This was me, just two months ago, on my way home from having my new port placed. I could just eek out a wittle baby ponytail when I wanted to show off my healthy hair to my kiddos. After losing my hair once through chemotherapy, I had carefully planned each
inch centimeter millimeter of hair growth as my blonde locks came back. As traumatic as it may seem to have lost my hair, I can honestly say that we made the most of every lock. I was determined to make it a fashion challenge and embrace the challenge head on (Pun intended. Ha!). When my hair wanted to grow back like an old monk (thick and quickly growing on the back and sides… nothing on top), I said …
“We’ve been through enough already, ain’t no way I’m gonna have a mullet, too!”
So I continued to trim the nape of my neck, ensuring that it looked like even growth all around.
When it was first inching back, once I had a fully covered head… BAM!
I dyed it platinum blonde and tossed my beanies and scarves to the side.
(Yet something deep down told me to save my favorites. Now I know why.)
My kids appreciated every cut that I did on the way to baldness, as well as my outlandish wigs to keep life interesting (No normal wigs for me, I preferred the “go big or go home” approach. Usually “going big” meant platinum afro-tastic!).
We had our fun in every moment, whenever we could. In fact, sometimes, when I felt my worst, this whole mind-set made me get up early to seize the day before it could seize me. I’d push that much harder, find a wig that was that much bigger and more colorful, and wake the kids up for breakfast with pizzazz! It cheered us up and kept us going. My many looks were so much more than a “look”, it was a feeling and a way of life, really.
Boho Bald, Wildly Wiggin’ Out, Sassy in Scarves, Happy in a Hat… you name the look, and I came up, out, and over of my fears and self-conscious anxieties to live my life to the fullest each day and not waste time worrying about what I was missing on my head. It’s only hair, after all.
Yes. It’s only hair.
At times, that statement is far easier to say than to put into practice. After all, I’ve spent a fortune at my favorite salon on highlights or lowlights, or the perfect hair cut just to lift my spirits and make me feel good about myself. I’ve always been willing to spend more on my hair than my clothes because I could work with sprucing up an old outfit or finding an awesome sale on my threads, but my hair was a different story. My hair sat right on my head, plain as day. There are only so many pony tails that I could throw my bad hair days into before I’d get sick of them or have a headache from pulling it back all day. You can only hide a bad hair cut for so long. Therefore, I could always justify spending my bucks there.
And in the blink of an eye, I had to part with my blonde identity that I’d invested well in. I’d had thick blonde hair for all of my life. It’s part of how I matched my mom, and what I felt was the real connection to identify me as a twin with the only one out of my five kiddos who has my fair genes.
The truth is, as we found during the last go ’round, and we’re finding again now:
MY HAIR DOES NOT MAKE ME WHO I AM.
Once my hair was gone, my little twin and I still had matching blue eyes and big ol’ smile. The same goes for my mom. My kids still noticed my goofy laugh and the way I still hugged them the same. Losing my hair did not change my desire to find something funny in all situations, dance with my family each night in our living room (Or with anyone anywhere that there’s music, really!), wake up at the crack of dawn to squeeze my kids one more time before school or chat with them after school about their day, enjoy playing with my friends any chance I could get or stay up late at night (no matter how tired I am) to hang out with my husband. Hair did not dictate any part of my personality. Without it, I was still “me”. In fact, knowing that it was gone and there was little I could do about it gave me a sense of freedom! It no longer kept me from being self-conscious of bad hair days, spending cash on fixing it up, or fiddling with it while I talked with people. Heck! It drastically cut down my time to get ready. Now I just throw on my clothes and go! Game changer.
So with that lesson learned during our last bout with cancer and chemo, I knew I’d be ok once I lost it again.
As much as my kids have wanted me to grow my hair down to my toes (which I may attempt again once I finish my initial rounds of chemo), they also knew that (in the long run) we were all going to be ok. Because after all, it really is…
GOOD BYE HAIR (TAKE TWO)… IN PICTURES:
So with all that in mind, I’ll let my pictures tell the story of just how we went about the strategic planning and action of kissing my locks good-bye. Yes, there was a method to my madness. Why “waste my time”? Because I’ll be darned if I was going to let cancer take control of how and when I lost my hair. Nope. There’s more than enough things that I’ve had to let go of and give up my control. This was one thing that, although inevitable, I could choose how and when the
cards locks fell. This was one thing that we got to not only decide, but enjoy while it lasted! And yes, once again, I needed to check off more life accomplishments/bragging rights to having multi-colored hair and a mohawk.
Because…. WHY THE HECK NOT?
Here’s to hoping this inspires you or someone you know to make the most of any and every situation.
And finally… our head shaving “party”:
My pal at Paris Parker salon (who gave me my last two fabulous cuts) ame over to shave my head. The whole family took a turn cutting a lock, and the kids drew pics after of all the cool thing that they still see once I was bald. We hugged long and hard after. But in the end… I was and am now, still Mommy.
However other women in my shoes may choose to embrace this process, is up to them. For us, it felt good to take matters in our own hands and seize the day. And today, is a good day. Today, I’m living more and worrying less about my shedding hair.
God bless you and all the women out there struggling with losing their hair and/or their identity. I pray they all can come to know that they are so much more than their hair.
As always, I maintain that …
“Every little thing, is gonna be alright!”- Bob Marley
Beautiful girl, inside and out! Aint no hair gonna change that!! 😉
Thank you, Jodi💕
I love you Elise! You are such an inspiration!
Well I love you, too! Thanks for all the prayer🙏!
Elise, you are such an awesome lady, wife, mother, daughter and friend to so many. Your journey and your openness to share it with everyone inspires me to be a better person and to count my blessings. Everyday that we live is a gift and girl, you are living your life with more courage and class than 1000 people put together. It is a pleasure to have met you at your Dad’s office and to see how you interact with those precious children of yours. I am praying that you will beat this monster. I know you have the moxie to do so !!!
So great to have met you, too! And thank you for sharing this with me. If just one person can be inspired or helped by my babbling, then “Hooray!”
You are such a beautiful lady! I’m praying for you and your family. Kick some serious booty girlie!
I’m soo ready to kick some cancer booty!
You have won. You have a beautiful family. You have lived your life with grace, dignity and hope. You have been a teacher and an inspiration to more people than you will ever realize. You are a fighter. May God continue to bless you and your family.
I feel like a winner. God is so good!
You are amazing, awesome, and an inspiration!
I must say that if I had to endure what you have gone through I would be a big baby like most men and I would be scary bald!! With all of the bumps, hills , and valleys on my head I would look like a very old beat up bowling ball from a run down bowling alley from the fifties! LOL
You on the other hand continue to show nothing but more of your beauty!!
You’re pretty amazing yourself! Don’t be so hard on yourself. You inspire me, too!
Elise, I have to say the same thing to you that I said to my dad when he had his hair shaved due to cancer. “Not everyone can wear their hair that way.” You are so beautiful and could star in a Hollywood movie. Thank you for your witness of courage and joy.
(Blushing) Aw shucks. Thank you!
I am constantly amazed at the courage and positive attitude you keep and have kept all through this. Your kids have the best mom ever! You really are an inspiration to us all. (I liked the blue.) Prayers🙏🏼, Love💖, and positive energy✨ headed your way at all times
Oh thank you so much! Being a mommy is what’s most important to me, so that means a lot. And of course, I liked the blue, too! It really is my favorite color!
As always when I read your blog/FB entires, I am humbled by the way you choose to live your life. AWESOME!
Thank you, Peggy
You have inspired me to
You are one true Loving wife, mother, daughter, and friend.
I do not personally know you
but would pray to be more like
May Our Lord give you Strength you AND your family need to continue on your road in
Fighting this dreadful disease.
Love & Prayers,
Janine Strausser Mashburn 🙏🏻❤️
Thank you for every prayer.
Elise, I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about you, wondering how you are holding up. Opened my email this morning and there you were, with your gorgeous smile and contagious attitude of hope and faith and inspiration. Thank you for keeping us all posted on your progress. You and your beautiful family are in my prayers EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers🙏
What can I possibly say to add to the beautiful comments everyone has made. You are in my prayers every day along with your beautiful family. I wore my Buna t-shirt to exercise this week and was asked about it. I explained and one of the girls said, ” oh yes, I went to my Bible study last night and we prayed for her. “. Your story and your beautiful courage and strength are inspiring so many more people then you will ever imagine. Young and old are learning what faith, courage, and attitude can do. God bless you for spreading these messages and teaching so many of us have to deal with the curveballs that life throws. I admire you more than you will ever know and I have learned so much from you. Thank you for your inspiration. Judy Greene
Thank you, Judy. I am in all of the amount of prayers and support we have gotten. Thank you for being one of those people, and even wearing your shirt is part of the team! Means so much to me