Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Cooking, Dublin, Food, Hair loss, Hair regrowth, Health, Humor, Humour, Ireland, Radiotherapy, St Vincent's, UK, Women's Health

Radiotherapy: Week Six (in Which I Ditch the Wigs)

IMG_4596What an extraordinary week. In a good way.

After a very tough month (surely there should be some kind of referendum to abolish January?), things are finally starting to get better and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The main triumph of the week was giving up my wigs and unleashing my bald, slightly fluffy head to the entire world. Although the final result has been liberating, it certainly wasn’t an easy move. In fact, from Monday to Wednesday I ditched the wigs but instead wore a bright red woolly hat that I’ve had since I was about 16.

IMG_4482After three days of having an itchy and sweaty head, I finally felt semi-ready to ditch the Paddington Bear/ Little Red Riding Hood look and whap out my naked head to the entire office. And, believe me, ‘naked’ is the operative word.

You see, bearing your bald head all-of-a-sudden to an office of 400 people is very much like walking around the office in a bikini. Or your underwear. It feels disconcerting, uncomfortable and very, very scary. And ‘self-conscious’ is certainly an understatement.

But, fortunately, by Thursday, two males in the office (one gay, one straight and married) told me respectively that I look ‘sexy’ and ‘much better’ with my bald head than with my wigs or hats. And, I know it might not seem like it, but that meant an awful lot.

IMG_4548It also helped that some kind soul had posted a very uplifting message on the mirror of the ladies’ toilets on my floor, so I get told I look FABULOUS every time I go to the loo. I think I might make one of these posters for my bathroom mirror at home as well…

Saturday night, I was ready for a bit of a night out, despite feeling exhausted, and I would have probably gone back to wearing a wig for extra confidence, had I not been told about a live music night called “Shave or Dye” to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society. It’s part of the “Punks Vs Monks” fundraising event in Ireland and basically does what it says on the tin – you go along for the night out and either shave off or dye your hair to raise money for charity. Naturally I decided to attend the event with my naked scalp in tow, assuming I would fit right in.

IMG_4601Unfortunately, there weren’t actually any takers for the head shave, and I was still the only woman in the pub with a bald head. It was still completely worth it, though, because everyone assumed I had shaved my head for charity and I became the heroine of the evening. One woman said “Wow, your hair looks amazing!” as she passed me on the way to the loo, and another high-fived me and shouted “Did you get the full head?!”

IMG_4605On the eyebrow front, I burst out in tears of joy earlier in the week when I noticed there were some 30 or so tiny little eyebrows starting to sprout on both sides. In the picture to the left, you can see my original eyebrows circa May 2012, and my current eyebrows, circa three days ago (sans make-up). As you can see, I still have a few stragglers, but nothing like the caterpillars I had before. But what you can’t see is the tiny little shoots that are starting to grow, and bringing me infinite joy.

IMG_4534Also bringing me infinite joy this week was the massive package full of goodies I received all the way from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Through the online cancer support groups I’ve joined recently, I have met a number of women in their late 20s and early 30s who are also going through the horrible experience that is breast cancer. One of these girls is Heather, who is even younger than me, at 29, and was diagnosed around the same time as me. Not one to sit on her arse and moan, Heather set up “Fighting Fancy,” which sends out boxes full of amazing, useful goodies (mascara, hair-strengthening shampoo, etc) for women all around the world going through chemo. (Or those who have just finished it, like me). I was the lucky first ever Dublin recipient of a Fighting Fancy box and it very much brought a smile to my face, so thank you, Heather.

IMG_4550Finally, this week hailed my ‘Not Birthday’. On February 2nd, for some curious reason, I received not one, not two, but three birthday cards. And it was definitely not my birthday.

The date was 8/2, and my birthday is 2/8 (Aug 2nd) but by total coincidence two friends sent me cards that day that had the words “Happy Birthday” crossed out inside, and both of them wrote “I didn’t realise this was a birthday card when I bought it, soz”. And a restaurant sent me a discount voucher because it was my birthday.

IMG_4604So, with 28 rounds of radiotherapy down and only 5 remaining, I’d just like to wish myself a very Happy ‘Not Birthday’! I think this calls for some cake…

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15 thoughts on “Radiotherapy: Week Six (in Which I Ditch the Wigs)

  1. Adriana says:

    Sos muy valiente querida amiga. Cuando describìs què se siente andando con la cabeza calva me recordàs lo que yo decìa: “es como estar en bolas en el obelisco”!
    Ya va pasando el tiempo y muchos son los logros. Genial eso de tener un cumple y un no-cumple. Debe ser el precio de la fama!!!
    Beso enorme, Adri.

    • Yes, Catherine, I have about 7 bold beanies now!! I was wearing one underneath the woolly hat all week! I just think it’s important to try and go bald as well… Makes me feel like I’m not hiding myself. Hope you’re well xx

  2. Love the joy! Joy is a healer. I strutted my bald self all last summer, of couse, I didn’t do it in an office of 400. I just did it in “my world” and I can’t imagine if I still had my corporate gig, if I’d had had the balls to go G.I. Jane there also! I finished up chemo at the end of summer (aug 27 was my sixth & final treatment) and I had a nice lil fuzz head by Thanksgiving this year! So I’m rooting your lil follicles on girl! Also noteworthy, I too finished up round 28 of radiation. Tomorrow (#29) I begin “boost” which is really less radiation then I’ve received up till now and I finish up this Friday, the 15th. Cheers to finishing with our joy in tact!

    • Wow, I am already on my booster, I also have round 29 tomorrow and I finish on Friday 15th also, so here’s to us celebrating 5 days from now! I finished my chemo on nov 27 – how come there was such a long gap btw your chemo and radio? Do you have a blog? Oh and I’m sure you’d have had the courage to go GI Jane in an office! Mine is a very friendly office, anyway. Best wishes to you and sending you good vibes and infinite joy for the final five blasts!! Laura xx

  3. Liz Walker says:

    Happy non birthday chick, my mum used to give me an unbirthday present when my sister had her birthday and visa versa as very younger days as childen, this reminded me of this occasion 🙂

    Woow what a biiiig week this has been for you Laura, well done for taking the plunge and not wearing your wig for work and for going out, I’m very proud of you and I was very touched to hear so many positive comments from men at work and the lovely person that left the message in the ladies 🙂

    xxxxxxxxxxxx love Liz xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Happy non-birthday Laura! Your real birthday is just ahead of mine… in days (in years I’ve racked up a decade or so more but am starting to feel 30-something again now the chemo is working its way out of my system) So nice to see you looking happy, rocking your new hairdo – its new hair so it counts as a new hairdo in my book 🙂 and celebrating the return of your brows. I’m sad you’ve had to go through this experience but very glad to hear you sounding so positive and happy. You’re truly an inspiration to anyone else who has to go on this journey. That light at the end of the tunnel is shining very brightly now.

    • Thanks Tracy. I’m really pleased to hear the chemo is working its way out of your system too. I’m 2 1/2 months out now and I think you keep recovering as the months go on… I’m definitely feeling my fitness levels improving, despite the radiotherapy, so hopefully you’ll get better and better! Hope your hair is doing well too! I’m now experimenting with a Lush soap that’s supposed to make the hairs stronger. I’m willing to try anything! Xx

  5. Irene says:

    You are so incredibly strong. I am also going through treatments, was diagnosed on July 30th, started chemo one day after my 33rd birthday on Aug. 9th. Surgery on Jan 2nd (masectomy and axilla lymphnode dissection, with 3 positive lymph nodes), and started radiation on Feb 8th. Just finished my 6th radiation session. Still treading along. I love your blog, it has really helped me through and made me not feel as along.

    • Thanks Irene, I’m so glad to hear the blog is helping you! I started chemo on 7th August, so just ahead of you. I often think how weird it is that it was summer then and now it’s winter and it’s all just gone by in a blur where I haven’t been anywhere or done anything, all I’ve done is go to the hospital and back. But saying that, it has absolutely flown by and I’m certain we’ll make the most of our lives even more now after what we’ve had to go through. I hope the radiation is going well for you – I found it so much easier than chemo but the hard emotional part starts now the treatment has stopped. Keep in touch and take care! Laura xx

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