Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vanity vs Cancer

When I first was diagnosed I was introduced to the programme "look good feel great"....I was more excited about the makeup that I would get for free rather than the philosophy behind it.   Over the years that changed.   I have attended three of these presentations, and have felt a little guilty going to more than one.  Again, the free makeup is great, but there really is more to the time.   I got to meet other women who are going through the same thing, and it's good sometimes to have different people at different places on their journey.    No matter what you say, we all have a streak of vanity in us.    Even if it is the opposite and we refuse to worry, that's our way of dealing with vanity.   Over the years, I have come to realize that looking good when I actually feel like crap, is a way of reminding ourself that 'positive energy, breeds positive energy" even if it is only the external energy that is positive.   Also, its fun to watch people be surprised that someone with cancer can actually look really good too.   I think we all want people who are sick to look sick, then we can assure ourselves that if we look o.k. we must be healthy.  Unfortunately, if looking bad was a symptom of early on-set cancer, it would be that much easier to diagnose.    You can't always tell by the outside that something is rotten on the inside.....and that can also work in our favour!   So if you ever get a chance to go to one of these events, or know of someone who might benefit, GO!!!!!!   If you don't have cancer you don't get anything but you can always be support to someone else by taking them.

One of the biggest external hurdles that I had to overcome when I was diagnosed was the lose of my hair.   Initially, I thought it wouldn't be a big deal.....but do you know how many shampoo commercials are on t.v. on a daily basis!  Hair is a really important thing in our society......and bald women aren't seen nearly as sexy as bald men.  Still it really surprised me how much it bothered me when I began to lose my hair, and the reason it was so hard surprised me even more.   It took my anonymity away.   As I said before, you can't always tell who has cancer simply by looking at them.   We walk among you anonymously, living with this disease.    When our hair falls out though we become very obvious, and most people know that a women with a kerchief on her head, or a hair piece that doesn't blow in the wind, is probably undergoing chemo. All of a sudden I am not deciding who I tell and who I don't tell.  It's not that I don't want people to know, it's  I desperately  want to have some control over  who I allow to know, it a control issue.  It is another area in my life that the control has been taken away.    So, now everyone knows, and the puppy dog eyes begin.   I do understand that people are being normal, and sympathizing with me, but when people who would never give me a second look, turn and put on this 'poor you' face, its hard to stay sane.    I have learnt though to be very generous and just smile back.   So, the next time you see us, just smile and know that we know you know, but no 'poor you' sad eyes!!!!!!   I must share the best 'no hair' story that  happened to me.

I was at some event and I had dressed up and was wearing a very fashionable scarf (I never wore a wig...too hot and really they don't ever look real).  I think the times I have had no hair are probably the times I looked most put together.  I spent hours looking for nice scarfs to match my outfits!..anyways I digress...
So, I went into the washroom and when I am washing my hands a woman came out of a stall and stood next to me.   She looked at me, not directly, but through the reflection in the mirror, and smiled and then said "I used to have a hair cut like yours".    It took me totally by surprise, and I started to laugh.    Then she said, "and look at my hair today" as she stood there with a full head of hair.    I looked at her directly then and said "thank you".  That was the entire conversation, nothing else was said and we both left!  It  made my puppy dog eyes, no pity, simply a statement of fact that she knew what I was going through, but hope for better times.      Don't you just love it..........p.s.  just had my hair done and nails still going with the 'look good, feel great' philosophy even when I not taking treatment..vanity isn't all bad......a life's lesson.


Pat said...

Just because one has an "illness" does not mean that their self is devalued. You still deserve to treat yourself to whatever pampering you enjoy that gives you feel good thoughts.
Love the bathroom story!

l'optimiste said...

I LOVED this post - I was the same - hair loss just freaked me totally out. Made me feel like a cancer patient. What a lovely woman you met :)

Anonymous said...

When a friend of mine had a haircut like that, she put a temporary tattoo on her head.

Kathy said...

What a beautiful expression of love and support from a total stranger. Miss our conversations, we really need to get together for that tea!

Kathy Westelaken