The Ottumwa Courier

October 22, 2012

When hair slides off

Browsing Around

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Just like pregnancy, there’s no such thing as a “little bit” of cancer. You’ve either got it or you don’t.

As for me, yeah, I got that “little bit,” and it’s called breast cancer. Once cancer gets its big foot in the door of your health, then you have to do at least some of the “Big C” program.

I’m involved with chemotherapy and have four more rounds of the “tall stick drip bag” regimen to do before I can rest. I’m back to work, but I was gone for about six weeks.

The therapy did cause hair loss, and a few showers ago I learned how that can happen. I was washing my hair and felt something odd on my hands.

That puzzled me, so I peeked through water and soap to look at my hands and saw a lot my gray hair all over my hands.

That added a lot of tears to my shower water. As I’ve told friends for years, if I had anything to be vain about it was my hair. Those days are gone now.

Now I’m a chemotherapy patient, and I was expecting hair loss. But I didn’t know the hair loss would happen that way. I didn’t lose all of my hair at once, so I tried to keep some.

That meant I was shedding my hair slowly but surely. Once the nurses at McCreery Cancer Center caught on to what I wasn’t doing, they told me, “Stop shedding everywhere. Buzz it off!”

So, folks, for the first time in my life, I’ve had all of my hair buzzed off. I never wanted to see my big head naked, but some things you can’t escape, I guess.

Even Cougar the Cat has been involved with my recovery. When Dr. Edward Ortell first saw me, he took a biopsy from my right breast. Cougar had never before snuggled up to me when I was “wounded,” but he did that time. And when the doctor took the second biopsy, Cougar snuggled up to that, too.

Now Cougar claims he’s the cat doctor, and I’m not going to argue with him.

I send my thanks to all the folks who have wished me well, and the list includes “the lovely ladies” at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton. Donna Kearney of Newton is my cousin, and she requested the church women make a prayer shawl for me.

How can you say no to that? The shawl is a beautiful powder blue, and every stitch has a prayer in it. It’s pretty, very comforting and just what I needed. Thank you, Lord.