Waiting for My Hair to Fall Out

Today I woke up feeling very heavy, sad and emotional. This comes as a surprise, as my last week was very positive from a health standpoint. I have had very few side effects and my energy has been as good as its been in months. The cough that led me down this road in the first place is completely gone, indicating to me that my tumor has already shrunk significantly from my first round of chemotherapy.

Then why the melancholy? I’m not sure exactly. I’m writing here to explore this. I think it has something to do with a sort of false taste of freedom that I received this week. I went to a couple of social events, I managed to go skiing for a couple of hours, I didn’t have to visit the healing center and I didn’t have to ingest a single pill. On Monday, of course, this will all change as I begin my second cycle of chemotherapy.

I eased up on my strict dietary requirements a bit – my metabolism has gone through the roof and I’m eating 3000+ calories a day and seemingly always hungry. Its a bit hard to feel nourished on purely a macrobiotic diet. I didn’t go as far as eating ice cream, although I did stand at the freezer door at the supermarket in contemplation for a minute or two.

I think I have allowed myself to be in denial of what’s going on for me, embracing normalcy this week. And I know you will all say that is a good thing, enjoy it while you can!  And I agree – this was truly a bonus week for me, as all expectations that I would be weak and quarantined were misguided.

Another aspect I’m sitting with was that I was supposed to fly to Thailand last week. My plan was to co-teach a couple of workshops and enjoy a break on the island where many of my close friends still live. I’m still on the e-mail threads as these workshops go on without me. The momentum I have created towards facilitating authentic relating workshops was basically cut off at the knees. No more prison trips or workshop facilitation for a while. This touches on a bigger theme for me – not being able to do what I want, when I want. I know this is a false idea anyway, yet somehow in my life I’ve managed to stay in strong control of my destiny and choices. And this healing process is a gift and opportunity to look at the absurdity of individual freedom as a guiding principle in life, yet right now its loss just feels crappy!

And last night, my first big chunk of hair came out. It felt significant. I have been pondering this potential hair loss since my diagnosis. Initially I was surprised at how much emphasis the doctors and nurses put on this aspect (there are expensive means to attempt to keep your hair during chemo), because I have shaved my head in the past and becoming an actual monk in this lifetime is not that far-fetched of an idea for me. However, I now see and feel the significance of one’s hair falling out versus the choice to remove it. And even though I am writing openly and publicly about my situation, at this point when I’m in public, my appearance doesn’t give me away as someone different (this will depend a bit on whether my eyebrow hair also falls out which isn’t as certain as the hair on my head!).

Well dear reader, thank you for listening to my big blaaaaaaaah! this morning. Writing is very therapeutic for me, and knowing how many of you are reading this and cheering for me allows me to feel very connected just in act of publishing this.

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