THE BLOG

547 Days

03/24/2015 01:37 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2015

I looked at myself in the mirror and watched as my dark hair fell to the floor. It floated like autumn leaves gathering in a rogue pile around my chair. My stylist was named Jason. He had tattoos trailing his olive-toned arms and cut my hair with such brute confidence that I wondered if he knew me better than I knew myself.

In that moment, I was 547 days out of stem cell transplant; 547 days from the moment that the heavy hospital doors closed behind me; 547 days from the moment I started to look forward and not back. The journey had been filled with so much uncertainty, but through it all, the one thing that remained consistent was my hope that I would be "normal" again.

For all the 32 years I had lived before cancer, my hair had been effortlessly long and beautiful. I did not realize how much it meant to me until the moment I lost it, and I passionately devoted all 547 days to re-growing it. I did this as if recapturing my hair would somehow make me the same woman I was before. As if it would make me "normal."

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The good news was that the hair was growing. The bad news was that it grew wild and patchy in the chaotic spirit of my 4-year-old's hero, Dr. Seuss' Lorax. I had no choice but to cut it.

Cancer seems so unlucky. It spreads like a terror and devours every part of you. In my escape from cancer, I wanted to divorce it completely and to reclaim myself as though cancer and I had never met. Stay away from me, cancer. I want nothing to do with you. Short hair felt like conceding to the reality that cancer had, in fact, marked me. It was a physical scar of how the journey had changed me when I all I wanted was to be the same.

In that moment, with Jason clipping the hair from behind me, I accepted for the first time that "normal" would not be a return to my pre-cancer self. I had a new identity now, marked by this journey that I had traveled, and I could not be ashamed of it. This was the new me: short hair, a little confused, trying to love myself. In that moment, as my hair dropped to the floor, I accepted this new identity. I accepted the new "normal."

It's been a couple weeks since my haircut and the new me hasn't been so bad, really. My husband still kisses my hand and tells me I'm beautiful. My 4-year-old has confessed he wants to live with me until he's 34. I really like the new me, actually. And if you're lucky, you'll catch me driving down PCH, wind sweeping my face, belting out a little #badgalriri. And just looking forward, not turning back.

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