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How I Wish People Saw My Daughter's Bald Head

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There was a video going around about a little girl who wanted to cut her hair so someone could make it into a wig for a child who was bald from chemo. 

“Sometimes kids get sick and then their hair falls out. That’s really, really sad,” she said.

I disagree.

Of course, the girl in the video is only 3. But it’s sad that a child who is bald has a tumor or cancer. It’s not sad that child is fighting.

The day you walk past that kid with no hair at the grocery store is another day that kid is winning.

When they told us Reese had to do chemo, I knew hair loss was simply a factual side effect a means to an end. It had to be done. I put my brave face on and said, “Let’s go.”

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For those next weeks, a child who once was tormented by brushing her hair relished in it. It calmed her. I’d run my fingers through her loose curls. Hair loss is so symbolic of your child’s life changing, proof on the outside things are no longer the same. I started to feel so sad about what was to come. 

Only it wasn’t sad. 

We finally cut her hair in January 2013 because it was starting to itch as it fell out. We’d find hairs all over her clothes, in her food, on her pillow. It was time. It was the beginning of a new hope — hope that the medicine was working. 

Soon, her eyelashes fell out for the first time. One by one. Or, if Reese had itched her eye vigorously, several at a time.

Her eyebrows were gone. Finally, she was almost skin bald. 

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When some months have less chemo, a white poof surrounds her head like a halo. She gets some eyelashes in, different than before, but beautiful. Her eyebrows are patchy. Then all too soon they fall out again. 

Her head now shows the scars of surgery. Two brain surgeries.

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Reese thinks she has pink hair. Right now, I think it’s a mohawk. She asks for ponytails and I eagerly oblige, pretending to pull her hair from all sides of her head into a top whale spout.

She calls herself “Miller” in the photos of her from before. Her identity is now Bald Reese. She has no idea she once had hair. She recognizes herself in baby photos by her bald, round head. 

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I’m certain older children who have lost their hair to chemotherapy are self conscious. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish hair didn’t mean healthy and bald didn’t mean sick. I wish bald was a sign of an amazing fighter who’s winning the war — even if just for that moment. 

I hope when children ask questions to their parents, they respond with uplifting comments of hope and determination. I hope those bald kids radiate the confidence they deserve to show to the world.

My daughter Sawyer introduces Reese with, “…and this is Reese. She has no hair.”  Reese smiles and sometimes takes her off her hat in pride. She has no idea how that head makes other people feel. 

I’m beyond grateful companies make wigs for children. I’m thankful so many people choose to donate their hair for any sweet child who just wants to feel normal. 

But, oh, how I hope for the day those wigs won’t be needed. That any child can feel normal, no matter what type of hair they have. No matter what type of “normal” they’re living.

Because lack of hair isn’t sad. It’s the first casualty of war.

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Images via contributor

Follow this journey on This Year’s Love Will Last

Originally published: June 30, 2015
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