Waiting for each hair to go was like death by a thousand cuts. So on the fifth day of the exodus my husband Harlan got the buzzer and the razor, and I was G.I. Jen. Up to this point I hadn't felt like a sick person. Now I looked in the mirror and saw Cancer Girl.
I paid as much mind to my hair and face as I had to the wounds I had been dressing, performing rituals of grooming I had nearly forgotten. My heart swelled, and after a year of cellular and spiritual purging, I suddenly felt full.
While individual health care decisions in the wake of a cancer diagnosis belong to the patient, there are some questions that my mother asked -- or didn't know to ask until things went awry -- that may be helpful for others to keep in mind when chemotherapy is presented as an option.