Monday, September 5, 2011

On Being Bald

There's no faulting a person for feeling self-conscious because of missing hair caused by chemotherapy. It is, after all, an unasked for change to someone's appearance that will draw stares and raise questions by peers and strangers.

That being said, the real meaning of the baldness ought to be thought about.

The falling out hair and later smooth skin is not a sign of cancer. It's a sign of the cancer being slowly killed off, cell by cell. It's a sign of a body stronger than the nuisance growing inside of it. It's a sign of tens of thousands of hours of creative and hardworking minds who studied, learned, and devised ways to destroy the parasite while leaving the host only temporarily weakened.

Hair? Please. Go ahead, take it. It'll grow back while the abnormal cells that decided to take a run at the whole of the body are long deceased, forgotten about, and their parts recycled back into other living things that agree to play by the rules.

Of course, the confidence of the preceding words is helpful to maintain a positive attitude during the worst of the worst. The fact is that sometimes the good guys don't win. But even in a loss, progress is made. Not only has the fallen inspired family, friends, and strangers, but the entire situation has brought people into the full spectrum of the human experience, of which, loss of life plays into it heavily for everyone who has ever lived. And all players in the game of fighting cancer are winners because they all become an all-important data point. One blurb of information in a file might sound like an insult to be a life's legacy, but I'm completely free of cynicism when I say that. Those tens of thousands of hours of work that bring hope were brought about by tens of thousands of those stricken with cancer - those who underwent treatment and battled through to whatever end was theirs. Good or bad, their end result made the lives of those who suffered and fought after them a little bit easier.

And as the treatments move toward producing less nasty side effects while still destroying the ceaselessly growing cells, here's to looking at a lack of hair for what it truly is: a sign of the battle being fought.


Anonymous said...

wonderfully put. Love to all, Gr. Colleen

Anonymous said...

Torrey - this is your mom's cousin Turtle from California. When my husband Rich was battling liver cancer, he opted to try some experimental treatments in the hope that it would give the doctors some insight into possible future treatments for others. While he only lived 13 months after diagnosis, he went to the other side proud of the fact that he might have made a difference for people stricken with his cancer in the future. Julia can carry that legacy as well!!