The first time I shaved my hair was about this same time last year. It was so different the first time. I was a 36-year-old Momma who was going to conquer this horrible disease I've come to know as Triple Negative Breast Cancer. The hair shave before my chemo began was an act of empowerment, my choice. My biggest fear was how I would look bald. Surrounded by friends and loved ones, we shaved my hair...
This time a year later, after being re-diagnosed to a Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer, we were faced once again with having to shave my hair. This time was entirely different. My biggest fear was no longer how will I look bald?, but will I die bald?
It wasn't a celebration of empowerment. It was something that my entire family dreaded. You see, we have five children. For the younger ones, "Mommy has no hair," represents "Mommy is sick." I think for all of us, it represents that I am sick. That I have cancer.
I kept asking my husband to shave my hair. He kept putting it off. Finally upset with him, I yelled at him. "I'm just asking you to SUPPORT ME!" I looked in his eyes and saw the look on his face. He said to me, "I don't want to have to shave your hair." I understood. The effects of having to shave my hair again was so difficult on all of us... It was so much more than "my hair."
This time we decided to do it with just our immediate family. Josiah, our 5-year-old, had a particularly hard time with it. He was so sad. He sat on my lap wanting to comfort me. Our oldest son, Andrew, had a difficult time with it as well. He escaped behind the lens of the camera and photographed his mommy losing her hair again.
I didn't know how difficult this would be on me. I've done it before and embraced it with a smile and strength. This time was nothing like before. This time, I was told that this disease would rip me from the arms of my children and husband.
As my husband began to shave my hair, I took a deep breath and tried to keep a strong face on for my children. My little guy came and climbed into my lap, not only to comfort me, but needing comfort himself. Then my husband leaned into my ear and whispered softly, "I can't believe we're here again." I couldn't hold back the tears. We were grieving so much more than hair. We were grieving the peace that this disease was robbing us all of. We were grieving what this horrible disease has done and continues doing to our children.
My husband decided to support me, this time, by shaving his hair as well. So we celebrated our 14-year anniversary by shaving our hair together with the five loves of our lives. Together, we fight this disease with LOVE!
After we comforted one another, we walked down to the beach. The entire beach was empty, as if they knew we needed the time alone. We all snuggled each other under a blanket and prayed. One of the children looked up after we prayed with tears streaming down his face. It was cleansing for each of us.
We got up with a renewed strength and bond. This disease does not get to DESTROY Us. Again, I walk around, bald, hand in hand with my husband, with a smile on my face and a sense of peace not in the outcome of tomorrow, but in the LOVE we get to have today.
Cancer does not define us, we are REDEFINING cancer!
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