Hair. It’s the one thing that we all have experience with: Too much of it, not enough of it, not doing what we want it to do. Great hair day, bad hair day, bed head, “throw it in a ponytail”, wear a hat, and coloring it. I have always been attached to the hair on my head.
I spent most of my life (beginning even in my teens years) growing my hair out saying that I would never cut it. Being from Texas, I wanted to make it is as big as possible. You know what they say: The bigger the hair the closer to God! Well, that’s not true but I certainly acted like that with my attachment to having big, blonde hair!
If a picture says a thousand words, this one shares a novel:
So chemo comes. And it’s time to get rid of it. I have spent so much time in prayer. Ready to let it go but not sure what it was going to look like, feel like. When I felt like I wasn’t at the weight I wanted to be, I would hide behind my hair. It was easy to do. It has always been a kind of “security blanket” like Linus carries with him in Charlie Brown.
I had a choice to make: shave my head or allow the chemo take it. Each person has a personal preference of letting it fall out or taking it themselves, but I chose to do it myself. Wes took me to have my hair styled at a salon one more time before I would do it.
Why I Chose to Shave My Head Before Treatment
The short answer for choosing this is because I believed it would be less traumatizing than watching it fall out in clumps on the pillow at night, or seeing hair chunks falling to the floor while it was being brushed. Men and women both have stated that psychologically, it feels less like chemo/cancer is mastering you if you take the head-shaving step into your own hands! I also respect those who choose to let it fall out. It really is personal preference.
Chemo is something that I went through to help save my life and it did not define me. I would not allow it to own me. It would not control my joy. I wanted to live my life where my identity was not in my hair, my diagnosis, or my appearance. My identity is in Jesus Christ alone. I wanted the world to see his majesty and love and how he sustained me through this.
The Moments Leading Up to Shaving My Head
My sweet Wes booked an appointment and God sent the right girl to shave it. Her name was Kendall and she was a Disney loving, ball of life! She and Wes made me as comfortable as this situation could possibly be.
Right before we began, I went in the bathroom and prayed. I said,
“God, I don’t know what this is going to look like and how others will react. I know that chemo is trying to save me and that is why I am doing this. Help me to find my identity in you. Help me to find my security in you. It’s a long journey to be on and will take time to grow it back. Please help me to love others and love myself the way that you love me. I love you. Thank you for ultimately saving me through Jesus’ death on the cross. Please hold me close. Amen.”
I snapped this selfie in the bathroom, and off I went back to the spot that I would become bald.
Shaving My Head
I didn’t cry one tear. As Kendall put my hair in a ponytail and cut it out, I smiled. I felt a security blanket holding me close as it was happening. But not a blanket like Linus carries. A warmth and comfort that came from above; a divine hug from God. I wish I could explain it more clearly but it was the one most beautiful moments I had ever experienced.
My incredible husband smiled at me and told me I was beautiful. I smiled and laughed the whole way through as we created fun hairstyles as my hair became shorter and shorter. Once my hair was short enough to shave, I held the electric clippers and did the first swipe to shave it. It was a moment that I will never forget.
God is so good. It’s hard to believe that I was able to experience Him in such a way especially with something that I had hung onto so tightly my entire life. (I mean, did you see the first photo?) The whole “Let go and let God” saying applied that day more than it ever had in my life.
What I thought would be traumatizing was life changing. Seeing chunks of my bleached blonde hair on the floor reminded me of what really mattered in my life:
- Fighting to stay alive for the ones I love
- Taking fear and saying “No, not today” by shaving it myself
- Letting God pick up the pieces of my insecurities and put my security in Him
For the first time in a long time, I looked at myself in the face. It had been a while since I had done that. Guilt, shame, and feeling overweight and unattractive had overtaken me and I shifted my focus on my clothing, make up, and hair. Then everything changed.
I saw myself differently, stripped of that which I hid behind.
I felt seen.
I felt beautiful.
You may have heard of David from the Bible who became a great king. He was a shepherd boy that was shorter and didn’t have the look of a king. He was the last in his family to be looked at as a king because of his appearance. Samuel, whom God had sent to anoint the next king, was spoken to by the Lord to choose David as the next king and the Lord said this:
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him (Saul). For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7.
The Lord looks at the heart. And I saw myself the way He saw me that day. And I am learning to look at myself and others with His eyes every day.
If you are facing hair loss due to chemo, I just want to tell you that you are beautiful. Stunning and captivating. Your hair doesn’t define you, like it did for me all those years.
I hope that you see your eyes and the shape of your face, the creases when you smile, the noise of your laughter, the unique perspective and presence you bring to the world, the infinite roles you serve, the prince/princess that you are since you are a daughter/son of the King. The cries or soft whispers of your heart in prayer are heard and every tear drop is held. God is in the business of restoring, and if your heart is breaking today, I hope you feel known, loved, and that there is much hope. I am with you and you can do this.
God bless you!
Have you lost your hair during chemo or are you entering that season? How can I encourage you today?