Off the Top of My Head…Literally

There’s a life lesson growing out of my head.

I don’t care about fashion and I don’t keep up with the latest trends, but I do like to be well groomed and presentable. So, when the hair on my head became an unfamiliar and somewhat embarrassing mop, I admit to being a bit discombobulated.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had naturally straight, thick hair. Then came cancer and chemotherapy and the bald head that goes along with that. I didn’t mind my bald head because I had more important things to think about.

Then a new crop of hair made its debut. Multi-colored and multi-textured, it was unfamiliar, yet welcome. It didn’t bother me because, without eyebrows and eyelashes, it was obvious what I’d been through.

Things are different now. Other telltale signs of cancer are long gone, so I just look like a person with BIG, weird hair. It’s thicker than ever, but bears little resemblance to my hair. It’s curly in the back, straight around the front, and ridiculously frizzy all over. Now I get that whole humidity/frizzy hair thing.

So engrained is my self-image that I’m still startled when look in the mirror. Alas, none of the fussing or torture I’ve tried could beat the beast into submission. During a quiet moment of reflection, it finally dawned on me. There are life lessons in my hair.

Life is all about change.
Life is a journey that waits for no one. Without change, we would stagnate. Ready or not, want it or not, change does come, and sometimes it’s for the better. If not, we must learn to adjust.

Being a little different is a blessing, not a curse.
When we’re young, we strive to fit in…we try to dress, act, and speak like our peers. As we mature, we embrace those things that set us apart. “Unique” is a compliment, not an insult, at least in my book.

To swim against the tide is courageous. To attempt to reverse the tide is futile.
You have to pick your battles. Pick those that truly matter.

My hair. It tells my story…and I think I like it.

On a related note:

What cancer survivors know about hair…and you don’t need to tell them
Trust me on this. Cancer survivors who have lost hair through chemotherapy understand how completely insignificant hair is in the great scheme of things. We know, with every fiber of our being, that it is better to be alive with goofy hair or no hair than not to have survived.

If we talk about our hair, please don’t think you have to remind us how fortunate we are to be alive. We don’t need reminding, thank you. We are NOT comparing hair to life. In fact, if we happen to mention that we’re having a bad hair day, take that as a healthy sign. It means we’re not consumed with thoughts of cancer or treatment or death. That’s a good thing. We can have a bad hair day just like everybody else, so let us have this admittedly trivial, but very human, everyday moment.


Related Reading:
Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Series
10 Odd Things to Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Photo copyright: iStockphoto/Thinkstock


Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn2 years ago

Many thanks to you !

B E.
Angela G3 years ago

Impossible to stop people from saying whatever they will say whether good or bad.

Sarah M.
Sarah M6 years ago

thank you.

Luisa Barr
Luisa Bar6 years ago


Aino Viita
Aino Viita6 years ago


Judy P.
Judy P6 years ago

How wonderful to hear this from a sister "winner" (because we're so much more than survivors!). I finished chemo for breast cancer on November 8 of last year. On March 8, 2012, my little book IT'S JUST HAIR: 20 ESSENTIAL LIFE LESSONS ( debuted. And one of the lessons is the title namesake - "It's Just Hair." The message parallels yours - we spend way too much time sweating the small stuff. My hair went from straight to very curly, and at 2" long, it's a great summer do! Be well and be courageous!

Carole R.
Carole R6 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Deborah D.
Deborah D6 years ago

Now you can say "Thats me!" when someone declares (about someone's bad mood) "Someones got a wild hare up their...."

And watch the various expressions as they flash across their faces!
Congrats on putting cancer in its place - may you have continued wellness.

Angela N.
Angela N6 years ago

thank you

irene fernandez
irene Fernandez6 years ago

Could hair be fore telling our tales?
When I was in high school I´d chopp it or leave it long but always straightened it, didn´t like the way it went naturaly. Then insecurity took over and I let it go long but always straight, now I am 42 and last year by accident I discovered how amazing my hair looks when I do nothing to it, it´s curly and bouncy and I am in love with it and yeah mucho more secure too