“Is that your real hair, Mette?”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. It looks … different.”
“It’s because of the chemo. My curls are gone.”
“Will they come back, your curls?”
“Don’t know … ”
Imaging yourself being 16 again. How do you look? What does your voice sound like? Now, take that picture and add cancer and chemo to it. How does it feel to be 16, bald and so haunted by side effects that you’re not even able to recognize your own mirror image?
This was my life when I was 16.
The Big Shock
Only a few days after the first chemo, my hair was effected. It literary died. I woke up one morning and half of my long, blonde curls were like crumble. Or powder. From that day, my hair was like the elderly women in the other end of the chemo hall: Grey. And about to give up.
I was in shock. Could this be real? No! My hair was too important. It was my whole identity. Who was I without the blond curls – just another cancer patient, waiting for judgment day? No! I wouldn’t accept that. I refused to accept how bad things looked. And how bad I looked.
So, I began to lie.
You Look Like A Fish and Gollum
Every time someone asked me; “Is that your real hair?” I lied. I knew it was wrong. I knew that it is never okay to lie. But I also knew that the alternative was worse. I couldn’t show my friends my bald chemo head. What would they say? If I frightened myself in front of the mirror, how would they react? Eyelashes, eyebrows – everything were gone. My brother told me with his brotherly carrying honesty, that I looked like a mix between a fish and Gollum from Lord of The Rings! (And I don’t think anyone wants to show a face like that in public. Especially if you’re 16).
I kept telling myself, that the small lies were a way of sparring my friends the brutal truth. Today I know that it was myself I tried to spare. I lied to convince myself that things weren’t as bad as they looked like.
Today my hair has grown strong, blond and curly again. Every time I touch it and feel it’s strength, I feel blessed and grateful.
On this picture I am wearing a wig. As you can see, the curls are gone. My ‘hair’ is straight. And the guy on the picture is one of all those people I lied to. So sorry for that. It is never okay to lie. But thank you for letting me believe, that I convinced you. Because of you, I convinced myself and got enough willpower to make it through the trek called cancer.