Crunch time

Yes, they told me it would happen, and now it has.  Some people said I was being premature, having my hair shaved off.  I thought not, but in the last few days I did begin to wonder.  This morning over breakfast I wondered if the few short hairs that fell out when I scratched my head were just the normal amount that I got growled at for leaving in drifts on our polished floors.

After a walk and a shower and a bit of mucking around, I realised that it is not so much a drift of short hair but a wave.  I find I can pull hair out (doesn’t hurt) in clumps.  I am partly intrigued and partly mortified.  I find myself close to tears.  I am crossing over into cancer treatment territory.

I cannot really complain.  Yesterday was check-up day, firstly with the oncologist.  I showed him my chart of side effects, and he mulled it over and said “so, not too bad then.” No, not too bad.  I think I have worked hard to make it that way;  it is not a random event.  He didn’t recognise me in the waiting room.  I had taken off my shocking pink sunhat because it was hot, and my shaved hair has grown to an almost chic length.  Chic if I was many years younger with no wrinkles.  “It suits you” has been said many times, but I am not convinced.  Nowhere to hide.  Quick in the shower.  Quick to dry.  All that is good.

Last week I got dismissed by the counsellor “you are coping so well, I don’t think there is any point in you coming to see me again,” she said.  I concur actually;  there are others who probably need her more than me.  That day had started quite badly in the scheme of things.  My car would not start.  I was so early that I had time to walk 20 minutes to the train station and still be on time.  Undefeated.  The train ride home was much more interesting, and enough to make you travel on public transport all the time.  A woman and her daughter were the only others waiting for the train.  Eventually she spoke to me.  “Have you just had treatment?” she asked.  I explained that I had just been to see the counsellor but that I was having chemo, yes.  I laughed and said I had hoped my head attire was fashionable rather than a public symbol that I am having cancer prevention treatment (a distinction I am determined to make, even if only to myself.  “You remind me of me,” she said.  Much younger than me, diagnosed at 31, travelled from Aitutaki to Auckland and has stayed for 3 years, will stay for another 2.  Horror story of radiation treatment burning her.  Chemo for a year – showed me the scar on her chest from the port.  She said her daughter was embarrassed that she would talk to a stranger.  I laughed and said anything you do when they are 17 is embarrassing, but that it was nice to talk to her.  I said that I had been to Aitutaki, and that if I go again I will track her down.  We waved goodbye at my train stop.  She ascribed her recovery to God.

I am reading a book called the Schonberg-Cotta Family.  An elegant dark green volume with embossed gold patterning, awarded as 1st prize, class attendance,  to Cyril Hamilton, in 1911.  It is, I hope, the true story of Martin Luther.  I haven’t checked yet on google because it is nicely written and I am enjoying it, even if it turns out to be part novel.  It does quote Martin Luther as saying “If we will only consider him in his works, we shall learn that God is nothing else but pure unutterable love, greater and more than any one can think.”  This is said 1513.  The monks were busy selling ‘indulgences’ – cash for forgiveness of sins.  Lots of cash.  No hope for the poor.  Along comes Martin Luther and turns all that on it’s ear.  God loves and forgives everyone, for free.  I suspect it does not end well for him.

I am not a practicing Christian, but my idea of God is fairly close to the idea of ‘pure unutterable love’ only I see it as the collective love of mankind / mother nature / the universe or something like that.  I don’t really believe in a God that lets bad things happen  or that we can ask to do stuff that we want.  I don’t go for the extensive ceremony we have built around the Christian message, but I do strongly believe we ought to treat people as we would like to be treated.  I have received lots of love and support during what can only be described as ‘my time of trial’ and I am grateful and pleased that I know so many nice people; I don’t think it is an accident.  I am surprised that some of the people I thought would be closer to me are not, but it is of no consequence to me.  Is this how God works?  Maybe.

Anyway now I am definitely going bald, and I guess I will get over it once it has happened.  The process is a slow kind of torture.  Let time I had hair this short I was 9 months old.

Not looking quite so chipper immediately after having my head shaved.  Then it grew, now it is falling out.

Not looking quite so chipper immediately after having my head shaved. Then it grew, now it is falling out.

"She looks just like the others" my grandmother famously said.

“She looks just like the others” my grandmother famously said.


About Ngaire Wallen

Landscape designer, thinker, partner, mother, reader, wanna-be writer keen to inflict my thoughts on the world.
This entry was posted in The human condition and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Crunch time

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Hi Ngaire,
    Brother Rick sent me your blog site.
    It is truly inspirational and I will pass it on the the Fiji Cancer Society and a couple of friends who are facing similar issues.
    It was a pleasure meeting you a few years ago at Raintree Lodge and the help you provided me.
    I think you can rightfully call yourself a Writer, rather than a wanna-be writer.
    Kind regards
    Tom Davis

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