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Hair falling out

Hair falling out

Last month I started to tell you a story and today I am going to tell you more:

It was the 4th of July 2013 and I had just arrived in England to be with my only daughter because she had stages three and four cancer and mets as well.  She’d been given the Red Devil – you might know it? – It’s very strong chemo, and now her hair was falling out. To make it easier her hairdresser friend kindly cut it very short. I’d hardly unpacked when she said she was going to shower and then all her hair would fall out so please would I shave her head?  Her oncologist said this was the best thing otherwise the hair would regrow  unevenly.

Her soul crushed, Shirley stresses out in her diary over things to come:

“Hair falling out – better to get it over with as it’s itchy. I feel very vulnerable … like I don’t want anyone to see me this way. Had a good cry. How can I possibly do this?  Oh, oh, oh God.”

I pull the razor across the pink flesh with as much care as I can, shaking some of the time. It’s such a ghastly, ghoulish thing to have to do, or so I think, in my traumatised state.  Soon she’s utterly bald.

Shirley takes in her new look using her hand mirror. Since her diagnosis so many thoughts have crowded her mind, not least of which is losing her hair.

For a start, after being discharged from the hospital and back at her friend Nick’s cottage, in her thoughts she’s relived the day – the painful insertion of a port into her chest, the horror of the poisonous chemo entering her body drip by drip, the many tears that continue to escape.

She also remembers messing around with Nick while still in hospital. He claimed his receding hair line meant he’d soon be a slap head but that she’d grow hers back, even more beautiful than before.

Now, much later it’s a different story:

“Oh Nick, I’m upset about my hair! I realize how much comfort and confidence I get from my looks. I feel upset that, with my chest tube and baldness, I’m becoming a freak. I’m so afraid people will see only my illness and not me.”

Even later Shirley picks up her diary:

“Realize – if I live and accept bald me, that’s a big/good start. Am also afraid that my hair won’t grow back well. Felt good to have a cry this morning, although I did wonder if I would be able to stop!”

“Leg is very sore: the hospital recommended more morphine! So I wasn’t shy with it – but now I have a woozy head. smile

Swings and roundabouts!

Two days follow when Shirley falls deeply quiet and becomes very withdrawn. Then it dawns on me – she goes back to hospital on Monday – this time without her hair. She confides:

“I feel ugly and weird. Tried looking for some biblical comfort:

“1 Peter 3:4: ‘Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.’”

She goes back to the oncology ward wearing her prettiest headscarf. There she makes one of the saddest entries in her diary

“I miss my hair.”

It reveals her devastation. And it’s deeply honest.


Thy Cameron

Thy Cameron

Felt good to have a cry this morning, although I did wonder if I would be able to stop!

Shirley Cameron

Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.

1 Peter 3:4

About the Book

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Thy grew up on a small farm in a church-going family.  She always wanted to teach and completed a BA (Bachelor of Arts) and teaching diploma in South Africa and a Masters and doctorate online with Regent University, a Christian university in Virginia Beach USA. She loved being a radio journalist for a Christian radio station and produced and presented various programmes for 17 years.

As a little girl, Thy loved her mother’s garden, especially at sunset. Her relationship with God began when she marveled at a rose called ‘Peace’ and decided whoever made it must be wonderful. Over the years the most difficult times were the most precious. That was when God molded and shaped her faith.

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