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Bald Is Beautiful?

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I did not plan on going bald. It was the chemo. When my oncologist explained that I would have to have chemo following my cancer surgery, I told him that I was going to be the exception to this rule. Why? Let me explain.

For the past seventeen years, my husband and I have been dorm parents to over 150 college men in a small Christian college in central Florida. We live 24/7 in an apartment that the college supplies for us. We have a nightly curfew for all students that live on the campus, and that is when our nightly duties begin.
 
We are the parents for these boys who come from all over the country. During the day, the boys stay busy with classes and other activities, but once the night time comes, our door is open; we try to get to bed by one a.m. during the weekday, and by three a.m. on the weekends.

Also during this time, I had accepted a job as a teacher's aide at a nearby school from eight a.m. to three p.m. I would begin my first day when the new school year began in the fall, so the thought of losing my hair was not something that I planned; but then the cancer was not planned either.

I go for a woman's physical every year. When the doctor called and told me that a “mass” was discovered on my films in one of my breasts, I was not worried. I'll just get it checked out, and go on with my activities. I was glad it was summer, so there would be no school and no one around as I would learn the results. The doctor did not feel that I really needed a biopsy, but felt that we should do one to be safe. I went for the biopsy. That was an event in itself. I was placed on a table with my breast in a hole on a table. The table went up, and the nurse approached me from underneath. I have been told (by a doctor and nurses) that I have a high tolerance for pain, and if I can observe what is happening to my body, it really does not bother me. This, however, I could not see. Although I got a shot to deaden the area where the tissue would be removed, I still was somewhat uncomfortable. All of this only lasted a short time, and I was once again up and about my activities.

Several weeks later, I had not received any official word and believed that “No news is good news.” You can imagine my surprise when I did get a call from my doctor explaining that I did indeed have a mass that was stage two cancer, and I would have to have my breast removed.

In two weeks, I had the surgery, and I was feeling great. However, that was short-lived. While in the hospital, I came in contact with MARSA. This type of infection is very common with breast removal. It is a type of staff infection. I ran a high fever, and my whole side began to swell, and it was very red. I was told to come in, and that night I was re-admitted. I had another surgery to clean up the infection, and was also given blood. I really did not feel very well after that. I stayed in the hospital an additional five days. Slowly, I began to feel better, and when I left, I was my old self again.

It could not happen soon enough, as it was the beginning of school. Sadly, I was not able to begin my new job with the little ones due to my infection, and I missed the first week of school. However, getting the college boys into their rooms and beginning the first few days of adjusting to college life was something that I just could not put off. I felt that I was needed to help my husband.

Slowly, a routine began, and I was finally able to begin my job with the little ones during the day, while still being with the older college kids at night. Then chemo began.

So I would not miss a lot of work as an aide, we decided to take my chemo on Fridays. That way, if I would get sick, I would have the weekend to begin feeling better. So began the first round. I went to the oncologist office and was put into a room with a TV, a nice chair, and a warm blanket. The chemo round would last six hours. After that, I went home. My husband or my in-laws would usually take me for the treatment, but I did not want them to stay. I really didn't mind the peace and quiet, which was so different from what I was used to living in the dorm.

My husband had a meeting with all the boys, and he explained that I had cancer and was beginning chemo. He also told them that I would lose my hair eventually.

After the first chemo, I did get sick and felt bad, but I did not miss any work. When Monday rolled around, I was back doing my usual routine. The hair began to come out after about two weeks. First, in small little strands. I was prepared though, as I had purchased two wigs that looked very much like my own short style. I was now trying to get up the nerve to shave my head, but I was not quite ready. I just did not know how the little ones at the pre-k class would treat me or, better yet, the boys that saw me every day.

Although my hair was short, it was me—I felt my hairstyle defined me. I could deal with the chemo, but could I deal with a bald head? Then, I got a surprise.

While I was fixing some snacks for the boys in the apartment, the door opened with a chorus of “You Are My Sunshine.” As I looked up, every boy in the apartment, and those standing outside, were not only singing to me, but each one had a bald head! They told me that if Mamma Dee was going to go bald, they would go bald too. That night, my husband also shaved his head to honor me. What was I going to do? It was easy. I got out my husband's razor, and we shaved my head together. It was easy to go bald with eighty others joining you. Yes, I can honestly say “bald is beautiful.”

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