Weirdly enough…

THIS IS THE FIRST POSTING ON MY MOM BLOG TURNED INTO MOM (WITH CANCER) BLOG. Everything below this post is my single-parent Mom blog that ran on Canadian Living magazine’s website for some 18 months, and was, if I do say so myself, a little funny and somewhat useful. The new Mom (with cancer) blog will make no attempt to be funny (but likely will be) and will help to keep family, friends, followers and the surfing randoms abreast with triple negative breast cancer and its effect on me and my little family where animals outnumber humans.

On Saturday October 19th, my daughter, Tessa, and I went to visit Laura, an old friend of mine (as in friends since the ’80s, not a friend in her 80s) who is a superlative hair stylist. When we met she was cutting hair at the University of Waterloo, and I was working on campus at the bookstore and the library. She cut my hair then, and later at my house (highlights through the cap, too much wine, and some fabulous ocelot-like effects), then Jazz Hair Studio on Church Street, and now at Distinct Hair Design.

Tessa and I had been talking about getting our hair cut together for a while. We both had long, long hair, mine to my waist, hers just about as long. She had given our long hair much thought and introspection, deciding that we had been hiding behind it, using it as a shield, buying into the myth that men like long hair better than short hair (should we care?!?! NO!!), hanging on to old images of ourselves (she’s 22—how old can that image even be?), and came to the decision we would shed the old hair and images and emerge stronger, braver, freer women.

And we would donate our hair, hers at least, to Locks of Love, a not-for-profit that makes and supplies wigs to Canadian and American children with alopecia and cancer who lose their hair. Tessa has wanted to donate her hair since Graydon had leukaemia, and this was the first time everything lined up so she could. I assumed that since my hair had highlights in it, I would be excluded from donating, and was thrilled when the stylists looked at my hair and said, “That’s fine! these highlights are nothing,” and that the type of hair and density made me a perfect donor.

We were very happy to hear that. Laura cut through our ponytails, and just like that, we felt like our heads could lift off our shoulders. We were shown our horsetails of strong, shiny hair before they were popped into mailers. We felt very virtuous, to say the least. When Graydon had leukaemia, his hair thinned, and he lost his eyelashes and some eyebrows, but not enough hair on his head that people outside the family would notice. I got him up in the mornings, and I washed the pillowcases, so I saw it. And the condition of his hair went from strong and smooth to brittle and frizzled. We went to Continental Hair on Avenue Road and wig shopped for him, choosing a wig to match his real hair, but did not buy it, just got the style and specifics on record. We never needed it.

So Tessa and I waved goodbye to our 16-inch ponytails, destined to be made into wigs, and loved our new, short hair styles.

Two days later, on October 21, I found a lump, a huge one, under my right arm. It was the size of an egg yolk in a large egg. It hadn’t been there three days ago. And in the back of my mind, I started thinking about the weird coincidence of giving away my hair for cancer, when I had a lump  that shouldn’t be where it was…

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