This is a strange story for me to write. It will at times be a sad story, in many ways it will be happy and perhaps even funny. It will be an adventure that entails anxiety, flirting with danger, fortitude in the face of adversity and many attempts to look on the bright side. There will also no doubt be moments of anguish and despair, and a lot of uncertainty. It's a story that will hopefully be cathartic for me, but also interesting and perhaps informative or even entertaining for others.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I want my hair back.

With my wedding coming up in a few months, I am so ridiculously obsessed with my hair (or lack thereof). I desperately want it to grow faster, but in reality there is no way it can grow fast enough. I’m at the point where I’m obsessively checking the growth nearly everyday. I’m being totally irrational about it.

I’ve been investigating hair extensions, but the problem is that the front, top and sides aren’t long enough to cover the joins. I found a place in Sydney that fuses on the hair strand by strand, so there are no visible joins. However it costs $5000. I might be totally obsessed and quite irrational, but I’m still sane enough to know that is ridiculous!

During my treatment, I felt nausea, pain and extreme exhaustion. I now face a constant anxiety that the cancer will come back. Yet, I am stupidly so concerned about my hair. It feels like such a shallow thing to be worried about. While I was having treatment, hair loss was a tangible sign that I was sick. For me, it was a constant reminder that I was having chemo, that it all really was happening to me. Walking around bald in public wearing a headscarf was like wearing a flashing neon sign declaring, “I have cancer, please stare at me”.

Now that my treatment is over, I’m supposed to be getting back to ‘normal’. However, my hair is a constant reminder of what I’ve been through. To me, my short hair is symbolic of my cancer. I hate the thought of looking at wedding photos for the rest of my life knowing that the first thing I will see is cancer.

I know that I am not my hair. I know that I will still look great on my wedding day with short hair. I know that it is incredibly vain of me to care about such a superficial thing. Yet none of this knowledge stops me from wanting to cry every time I think about my hair.

Furthermore, I feel so incredibly guilty for feeling this way. I’m healthy, I beat cancer. Why do I care about my hair? When I first lost my hair I said that I’d chop my arms off if it meant I’d be rid of the cancer, and lots of people actually do lose organs or limbs due to their cancer. Many people lose their lives. I’m so angry at myself for caring so much about this.

I know I have to just deal with it. I know there is nothing I can do to change it, but really it’s just another reason why cancer is so shit.


Anonymous said...

So many times I have cried reading your blog Riaane. Today I smiled. I love the way you speak about how grateful you are and all the while you are hurting. Your strength is amazing!
You are a beautiful woman, long hair or short hair, cancer or no cancer, you are simply beautiful. Know that when WE look at your photos that's exactly what we'll see!

Anonymous said...

Well said Eloise. You are always such a striking looking girl Riaane and whether long or short, blonde or strawberry blonde straight or pretty little curls - you look so lovely. Dont be angry at yourself at all! When you look at your wedding photoes - we would want you to see strength, real beauty, courage and inspiration - a true survivor on a special day that will be just the beginning for you and Daniel. xx LR

Treasure Queen said...

I enjoyed reading your story Rianne - thanks for sharing... and I hve a feeling yr wedding will be the best day of yr life... with or without hair extensions!

Laura Virtue said...

Hi! I just found your page. It is nice/weird to find someone who had what I had. I found out I had large b cell mediastinal non hodgkins lymphoma on June 5, 2010. I beat it too!
It is so nice to find someone who had what I had. I have felt like I was the only one in the world that has this rare cancer.
I'm starting to feel like myself again:) I have my 6 month cat scan on March 21st. I'm a little nervous about it, but I try to think it's just one more step closer to being forever free of cancer.
I wish my hair would grow in faster too! Back in June I would have done anything just to know that I would survive. My hair is about 3 inches now. I am a 1st grade teacher so I still wear my long hair wig to school but I have been going out to the grocery store etc without "the wig."
It would be nice if you could write me back I think we would have a lot to talk about.
Laura Virtue

Jen said...

Hi, I just found your blog through the cancer forum... I was diagnosed with Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma in Nov. 2010, 4 months after having my 3rd child. I just finished my 6th round of R-CHOP on Feb. 22 2011 and will be starting radiation soon. My treatment sounds as if it is identical to yours- so nice to find someone who has been through this! Just wanted to say that your post about what not to say to a cancer patient brought tears to my eyes :)
Best of luck with your wedding!

Angela said...

Hi, back when I was diagnosed with Mediastinal Large B-Cell lymphoma in November 2010, I found your blog and read every entry. You were the same age, similar lifestyle, and similar treatment. 3 months later, I am checking your blog to know how you are doing. I hope your wedding was glorious. I know what you mean about the hair though. I have finished my treatment and am waiting to get back to "normal". As someone who always had beautiful long hair, I completely understand where you're coming from, and often feel vain for having those thoughts.

To others going through treatment for NHL, I wish you strength and love.