Cancer Treatment Comes With Hope My Hair Will Return

By Kelly Carson, Editor, The Link

I agree with Lauren Jackson of Renata Salons who so eloquently tells her story of hair loss and alopecia. “It’s only hair” is something only folks with hair would say.

In the winter issue of The Link Magazine, I detailed my cancer journey and hair loss. Y’all witnessed me have what remained of my natural mane removed at the skillful hands of my friend, Toni Doyle of Peroxide Hair Studio in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Tanner Madden, left, shaves her hair because she likes it that way.

I was taken aback by my own reaction to my bald head. It was shocking. I didn’t know I was that attached to the graying hair on my head. But I was, and I cried.

Since then, I have been hiding my bald head under one of those slinky millennial-favored knit beanies. I wasn’t ashamed that I was bald, I don’t think. I know I didn’t want to “shock” the public too severely with my shiny scalp. As the follicles started returning ever so slowly I looked like a baby eagle or something. I guess I keep it covered because I didn’t want to be laughed at. And, because it’s been a cold winter, I don’t think people noticed at all.  Of course, I’m giving myself way too much power over people’s reactions to my head. I would like to think no one gives a damn.

It’s just hair but for me, that statement has a different meaning. I’m not short-selling Jackson or her position. Her struggle is real. I may not have a full head of hair, but I will at some point in the future. That realization struck me as I was having lunch in downtown Hattiesburg and my waitress and new friend, 25-year-old Tanner Madden, had a head of hair that was cut super short and multicolored. She did the normal waitress stuff just like all the other waitresses I’ve seen in my life, only she did it with kaleidoscope hair.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to go hatless and be uncovered in public like my new friend. Madden said she shaved her hair a few years ago so she would stop hiding from the world. It seems to have worked. She’s personable, dynamic and energetic, all the things I want to be.

“I had put so much pride in my hair,” she said, “I would hide behind my hair. I cut it off and then I couldn’t hide anything.”

I’d like to think I could follow in her footsteps and stop hiding behind my hair, but the 40-year difference in our age may stop me. Maybe. I did go out in public uncovered by accident getting gas one day. Does that count? Madden shaved her head on purpose — a way to get out of her comfort zone.

A few days ago I drove with the windows down and I could feel the little hair follicles dancing in the breeze. It made me smile.

By the time this magazine is published, my hair should be of sufficient length to at least need a good combing every once in a while. But the cruelty that is cancer, I will lose it again as I begin a second round of radiation treatment. It’s all part of the original recovery plan created by a spectacular team of doctors, nurses, technicians, and others who guide me to recovery.

Yes, it’s just hair. Maybe I’ll have some by my birthday in August, though I’m not complaining.