04/25/2014 11:49 am ET Updated Jun 25, 2014

It's Never Been About Vanity

I've been living with my "shadow", stage IV breast cancer for nine years now. I had almost forgotten, since I had a near miraculous 11-year reprieve following its initial bout.

When the disease surfaced again, it took its strongest revenge to my bones. All this time I had escaped what I considered the "guillotine" -- hair loss or worse, baldness. Since I had refused chemo five times, I thought for sure I was out of the woods.

Finally, it crept up behind my back, so to speak, in the form of a brain tumor that was swelling... grrr! I had no say in getting out of this unscathed... hair loss this time, not to mention that the radiation kills hair follicles. No pun intended however, this ordeal has uprooted my inner being.

My intention these past nine years has not been of vanity, but rather about validation. The loss of my beautiful mane validates that I am indeed ill. All these years friends and strangers alike would remark, "Wow, you can't be sick you look so good", and damn it, I did look good!

Now that the jig is up, people see my lack of hair and can't deny that I am ill. I can no longer hide it from neighbors and some acquaintances... to my dismay. You see, my advocacy for this horrible disease depends on the the contrast that I am active, looking good and giving hope to others. I have done that, and hope to continue with great determination.

There's no denying that I miss my long blonde locks and am NOT a wig person, especially in our 115-degree desert weather. Unfortunately I was mislead by the radiologist who said he would only take a small portion of my glorious hair... not so. Being hairless DOES validate illness!

My belief has always been that when you look good, you feel good. It's extremely difficult to look in the mirror and see the toll that abundant radiation has taken not just on my hair, but formerly smooth facial skin. I always asked for "quality NOT quantity". In reality, I am resilient -- I bounce back! This rude awakening has again made me stronger considering I'm dealing with this ubiquitous disease.

I keep grounded after visiting St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. Seeing these little innocent children struggle with this disease who may never get an 1/8 of the opportunities I have experienced in my lifetime. This gives me strength to carry on my plight for them too.

This tumultuous battle with my body I'm sure will continue just as I have. However I am now dealing with other obstacles in this nine-year ordeal, but in the end my hair was truly my friend.

Until next time,