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Drugs, Hugs, and Losing My Jugs: A Breast Cancer Journal - May 17, 2015 - Shawna's Scarf

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This is the second entry in a 31-day Breast Cancer Awareness Month exclusive series featuring the real journal entries of breast cancer survivor, Jessica Sliwerski. Read the first entry here.

Penelope is 6 months old and ready for solid foods. I have no fucking clue what I’m supposed to do and am a bit overwhelmed with cancer and not in the mood to truly figure this whole food thing out.

Fortunately, I have mom friends. One of them is Shawna. She lives in Park Slope and has a 20-month-old daughter. She also has breast cancer. And is currently going through the hell of chemo.

Shawna typically wears a blonde wig. It’s a fancy wig made of human hair, and she had it commissioned to look like her real hair before cancer took it. I met her at Buy Buy Baby yesterday because we both happened to have doctor appointments in the city and we both happened to not really want to go home quite yet.

Instead of her usual wig, though, she was wearing a black and white silk scarf on her head, tied in a knot at the base of her neck with the tails draped elegantly over her left shoulder. Over her eyes she wore her big Chloe sunglasses.

This was the first time I’ve seen Shawna without her wig. As we were texting on my way to Buy Buy Baby she said, “I’m wearing a scarf today. First time. Just a warning.”

Not understanding what she was talking about and thinking of the floral infinity scarf I was wearing, I wrote, “Me too. Not first time.” She replied, “On my head. The wig annoyed me.”

Duh. I don’t think sometimes.

While I have no doubt it was somewhat traumatic and rather uncomfortable for Shawna to dawn a scarf in public, I thought she looked so glamorous. And she radiated beauty and bravery. I couldn’t stop staring, mostly because I am macabrely fascinated with the fate that belies me.

Also, I really liked her scarf and was wondering where she bought it and how expensive it was. Then I started thinking about the fact that I do not have any silk scarves and this gave me a bit of anxiety because I do not like to be ill-prepared.

Jessica Sliwerski Nike shoes
Nike high tops: I don’t yet have a fancy scarf, but I do have my ninja boots.

Shawna helped me pick out all the good shit I needed to properly delegate to Jules, my nanny, the making of Penelope’s sustenance. We carried everything to the register and were openly discussing chemo together while the woman rang us up.

“You look beautiful,” Star interrupted, looking at Shawna. “My boyfriend had cancer and he was so worried about being bald, but I told him I loved him no matter what. What’s your name? I want to pray for you.”

“I need you to pray for me, too!” I fervently insisted, even though I am not even religious.

Star wrote down both of our names. Out of the corner of my eye, beneath her big sunglasses, I saw Shawna crying.

As we walked out of the store I said, “That’s the thing about not wearing a wig, I suppose. Everyone knows what you’re going through and they want to talk to you about it.”

“Yup,” she said.

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All photos courtesy of Jessica Sliwerski

Originally published: October 2, 2017
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