When I Left My House Without Wearing a Wig for the First Time

I had that dream last night that people sometimes have where they go outside naked.

Except it wasn’t actually a dream.

To be fair, I wasn’t naked naked… but my head was. Going through chemo made me lose my hair — but put me in remission from cancer. Nearly seven months after chemo and losing my hair, I decided it was time. I have never imagined myself a particularly vain person (until this), but I admit it — I have been way too insecure to venture much further than my own garage without the safety of something on my head since I lost my hair.

But my dear friend from college was getting married. I had the date red-circled in my head because I had hoped that maybe, possibly, perchance this would finally be the day I did it. I have been toying with the idea for a few weeks, each morning asking myself if that day would be the one I gave up that wig for good. However, each time I asked, I had answered myself with a resounding n-o. I wasn’t ready.

But as I was getting ready for this big night out, I realized I was seriously considering it. I was contemplating going out to a wedding with college friends I hadn’t seen in ages without my security blanket. A few things put me over the edge once and for all. First of all, wearing a wig is not comfortable for me. It’s lined with mesh that scratches my head, and it’s hot. As soon I would turn out of the parking lot at work, I would rip that sucker right off. I had also gotten a little more lax around the house, too. If I knew my kid’s friends were going to be over, I would make the effort to put something on my head, but there were times they came over unannounced. I definitely didn’t want to confuse them — they are pretty young, after all — and they would likely have questions like “How does your mom keep growing… and cutting… and growing… and cutting her hair?” if I looked differently each time they saw me. But I was starting to dip my toe in the pool.

So, as I was getting ready, my husband was really encouraging me to finally do it. He has been supportive in a million different ways since I had been diagnosed. He has been my biggest cheerleader about this (last) hurdle over these last few weeks.

This very night, one year ago, my husband stood next to my hospital bed — where I laid after waking up after almost a week on a respirator — and gave me the worse news I have ever received in my life. It was a Sunday and there was no doctor around, so he had the unthinkable job of telling me I had cancer. Those words change your life forever. They change the life of your spouse, your children, your family and friends. Even if you are considered “cancer-free,” you might still sleep with one eye open, waiting for the other (cancer) shoe to drop.

There is no turning back from those words, this diagnosis, my fate. I decided immediately after he told me that we were going to face this beast head on. Nothing about this past year has been easy, that’s for sure. Fighting cancer has sucked. Having to tell our kids I had cancer really sucked. Losing my hair has really sucked.

I was terrified yesterday walking out of the house, fearing everyone was looking at me. I went out of the house again today and, as self-conscious as I felt, I put one foot in front of the other and just did it. There is no turning back now. And as scared as I was and continue to be, I also know I felt lighter today than I have in quite some time. Looking back, I may feel less self-conscious than I did before. I don’t feel like myself quite yet but, if I’m being honest, I didn’t really feel like myself before either. But I now feel one step closer.

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