I was born into a neapolitan family, like the ice cream, not the folks from Naples. My father was a redhead; my mom was a brunette; I am a blonde. What can I say? Genetics can be a real crapshoot.
And yes, I have endured more than my share of dumb blonde jokes over the years. Usually, I roll my eyes and smile.
I was amazed when my hair began to grow back dark following my first bout with cancer. Why not? Everything else about my life had been altered by this disease. But eventually, a few blonde hairs began to emerge, and with the help of Lady Clairol, I had a few lighter highlights to break up the mousy brown.
My new hair was thick and curly, far different from the baby fine straight locks I had always had. And knowing that the odds for a reoccurrence were high, I tried not to become too attached to it. But I did. I loved having hair again, to be able to go out in public without a wig or the dreaded chemo cap. I fantasized about how it would look when it grew a little longer, when I could put it in a pony tail. The hair saga for me represented a return to a normal life, one without cancer, and I embraced it.
Of course, it takes a long time for hair to regrow from bald to long and luscious. Unfortunately, the disease returned before it ever got there. When my doctor and I discussed treatment options, I campaigned hard for an alternate drug, one that wouldn’t cause hair loss. I even printed out a medical abstract about why my preferred chemotherapy was the better choice. In the end, I deferred to his professional judgment, which was to go with what had proven to be effective for me in the past. But truth be told, my vanity tugged at my broken heart, and I left his office wrapped in a blanket of gloom.
Exactly twelve days after my first infusion, I began to lose my hair as it fell out in great clumps. My scalp prickled. The shower drain quickly became clogged, and I woke to a pillow covered in what had been attached only hours earlier. I felt like I was living with a big shedding shaggy dog as I constantly swept and vacuumed. In all honesty, I should have shaved my head when it began, but I had some kind of morbid curiosity about what the natural process would look like. I decided to wait to see what would happen.
I must admit that I look rather like one of those movie monsters with a few remaining patches of hair. The tiny tufts stick out in different directions and are so thin, that they appear transparent as my shiny scalp peeks through. I have refused to remove what is there. It is silly, but in a world where I have little to no control, I get to choose this one simple thing.
I was looking in the mirror this morning, as I attempted to comb the pitiful little tufts of hair first one way and then another. And I started laughing. I look a lot like Tweety Bird. Every strand of brown hair has fallen, leaving only the random blonde ones behind. Perhaps the stereotype about the dumb blonde remains the stuff of jokes, but there is no denying that it is those light hairs that survived the chemo assault. Maybe being a fair haired girl isn’t synonymous with being weak and ditsy after all. Samson might have been a blonde. You never know.
Of course, now I have a double excuse for the crazy things I say and do. A blonde with chemo brain is quite the combination. Lookout world.