I mean it. I have always wanted to shave my head. My hair is thick, dark, and dense. There’s a lot of it, and on hot days, or when I’ve been wearing a bike helmet, or when I go running, my hair gets in the way. Plus, I love rubbing someone’s shaved head. It feels so nice.
The first thing I thought of when chemotherapy came up was that I would lose all my hair. Instead of getting worried or nervous or freaked out by it, I got excited. With as much hair as I had when I was diagnosed (it was well past my shoulders) I knew that the hair loss process was going to be a bad thing for our shower drains. I had to take action.
First, I decided to donate my long hair to a cancer wig place. I went to a salon where a friendly hairdresser named Safa gave me a very nice short haircut and sent the remains off for donation. But I knew that wouldn’t be enough.
Let’s shave Jenny’s head!
After my first week of chemotherapy, I knew it was getting time to get rid of the rest of my hair. On short notice, I booked the common room in my townhouse complex, invited a bunch of friends over for a pot luck party, and told them they could all help me shave my head.
It was a great party, full of good friends; the people I know are around, ready and willing to help me and my family get through chemotherapy, and cancer, and everything in between. It’s something we need, since most of our extended family (except Adam’s brother Jordy) is three timezones away. The affirmation of our community of friends meant a lot more to me than I could really express at the party. One friend talked about her take on the whole thing in her blog.
Lyra — the second person to help me shave my head, and the first of the children to give it a try — wanted me to have a skunk hairdo. The closest we could come up with was a mohawk… so that was what I went with.
The thing about hair…
Here’s the thing about my relationship with my hair. It’s completely temporary. Got a bad haircut? It’ll grow out. Haven’t had a haircut in a year and a half? Whatever, it’s fine, got get a haircut or something. Not happy with the colour? Try a different one. Don’t like the results of the new colour? Wait a bit and see what happens, or try again. I was a redhead for six years because I was tired of dark brown, and then one day I stopped dyeing my hair. I’ve had purple, blue, pink, and orange hair, usually on purpose.
But I’ve also never been someone who puts much daily effort into my hair. When it’s long, I get the most compliments on it if I haven’t washed it in four days. Most of the time I remember to brush it in the morning. I own a hair dryer, but it hasn’t been used in six years or more. I like my hair, but I don’t give it any extra attention. It’s just there. And it keeps my head nice and warm.
Now I have a mohawk, and I’ve been going to work like normal, and wandering around my usual haunts. From those who know me I’ve had nothing but compliments. Apparently I can rock a mohawk, and that is kind of awesome. I’ve seen a few confused glances from strangers, and I sincerely wonder if the ‘hawk changes people’s perception of me on levels I don’t know. It might be harder to, say, get a job after an in-person interview or something. Or maybe it wouldn’t, I don’t know.
What I know is this: my friends are willing to come to a party just to help me shave my head. I know a lot of great people whose opinions of me obviously will not be lessened by my ‘hawk — and even acquaintances have had a universally positive response, from the baristas at my usual coffee shop to the people who take care of Lyra before and after school. Some of those folks don’t even know about the cancer thing.
Soon enough my hair will start thinning and falling out. I will likely shave the awesome mohawk right down when that happens, and go with the bald look.
But I have a feeling that, after chemo is over and done with and my hair has returned in whatever form it so chooses, the mohawk may reappear… because I rather like it.
Lyra now tells me that she wants to shave her head into a mohawk too. What better indicator of its awesomeness could there be but mohawk solidarity from your five-year-old daughter?