top of page

I am going to be bald.

I was surprisingly calm the morning of my first chemotherapy, scheduled for Friday at 11 am. The baby woke up at 6:45 am, and we started the day. Once we got the baby set up, I did my morning work, which partially consists of a report I send to one of our largest clients. This is a straightforward data entry report, a report someone else in the company could manage. However, since interest rates have risen and our staff had to be reduced, I took over the report. I enjoy it because it lets me keep tabs on this particular set of escrow agents' files. As a control freak when it comes to the company, this report scratches that itch. People say business isn't personal. But I love our clients, and each of their signings are important to me- to the degree that is probably not mentally healthy (I'm working on that ha-ha).

That day, there was a "nightmare" signing. The notary messed up printing docs, took no accountability, and made an already high-touch-nervous-signer cancel his entire loan. I called the signer, explained the notary's mistake, how this does not reflect on the escrow or lender, and apologized. He was so gracious and explained that he was already trepidatious about the loan and that although he understands that this is not a reflection on the lender, he will cancel regardless. I sent him a gift card for his time. My heart sinks. In this economy, every loan counts even more than ever, and money and commission for everyone is on the line. But the people affected most by this cancellation were upset, and so was I.

I'm about to start chemo, and this is my morning. This feels like the story of my life; work comes first at the detriment of my mental health. Why am I even working right now? Because I am a control freak with chronic feelings of worthlessness. Work is the only way I feel helpful to my family and society. I call Lisa, my Mom, and she takes over. I'm grateful she sweeps in and saves the morning, like Superman's daughter, as we always joke. That's an impossible role to fill and probably too much pressure on one person, but she always serves it at work.

Eli is scheduled to take me to my first chemo appointment. But let me give you a little insight into my husband by providing a quote:

"The water is calm, but the currents pull beneath the surface. Though they can't be seen, they have the power to drag cats to their deaths." Quote by Erin Hunter

Eli rarely appears nervous or overwhelmed; "calm" and "even-keel" are words often used to describe him, but inside, that current is killing cats left and right. The night before, Eli appears relaxed but then wakes up with his neck out and a migraine. His calm surface hides a rip current that takes him down. I tell him what I need for the day; positivity and high energy. The cold caps will require it. My mental state does too. Looking like a zombie, he says, "I can try." So I bring in reinforcements- Mom. She was also trained on the cold caps and can always be counted on for high energy. Below is a scene from The Simpsons that very accurately describes what she does when called on by her loved ones:

It's not even 11 am, and she has flown through my window twice this morning.

My mom and I head to the satellite City of Hope center, 5 minutes from my house. We have our cold cap cooler in tow. Before every chemo cycle (every 3 weeks), I meet with Dr. R or his Nurse, Practioner, Eddie. Eddie gives me an idea of the general side effects of what to expect with this round of chemo- bone aches, neuropathy, hair and nail loss, and brain fog. He is laid back and cheerful; just another day in his life. I feel more anxious than ever. He takes us to the infusion room with our huge ice chest. I am most nervous about the cold capping. When we did chemo teaching, we toured the infusion room. I saw no one doing the cold cap therapy, so I'm worried I'll stick out like a sore thumb. I'm also concerned about the timing, so we start the prep while we wait in the infusion room lobby. This begins with putting on the caps 45 minutes before your first chemo that causes hair loss (not all chemotherapy does). The prep makes me look ridiculous! Panty liners on my ears and forehead, hair- greasy and slicked back. I feel self-conscious and insecure. Am I doing the right thing? Everyone else here seems OK being bald. Am I vain? My head is racing as I am praying for calm and direction.

Anita, my oncology nurse for the day, calls my name, takes my vitals, and leads me to my chair. The infusion room is bright, with natural light filtering through the large windows lining the north side of the building. The windows overlook the main hospital just across the street and many full green trees. I like this room; I feel a little better. A nurse command station is in the middle of the room, buzzing with nurses tending to patients and each other. They work as a team. And the outer walls are lined with comfy recliners, chairs, and movable triage stations. Once set up in my own chair, I inform the nurse that I will use cold cap therapy. Although she accommodates us and our equipment, her lack of expression and eye contact give me the sense she does not support this decision. She doesn't explicitly say that, but I intuit her disapproval.

Mom and I continued getting the cap supplies ready, and the nurse began collecting the pre-med supplies for prepping my port for infusion. We started the cold capping, which must be done rapidly. Mom removed the first cap from the cooler, took the temperature to -35° Fahrenheit, and molded the cap onto my head. She fits the swimming cap snugly atop the cold cap, tightly matches the straps, then ties me all up with scarves. (See the previous post for a picture of how ridiculous this looks). Instantly, it feels like I am hit with a bat on my forehead. The cold is shockingly painful. The straps and caps muffle sound; the nurse is trying to talk to me; I cannot hear anything and my heart races. Panic sets in. I look at my mom, eyes welling with tears, and I mouth, "I cannot hear anything. I don't think I can do this." I feel like I'm being buried alive, the mask restricting my breathing. She leans close; "You want to keep trying?" She says, "It's up to you." I pray a silent prayer; what should I do? I am a wimp! And I feel all the humiliation and shame that comes with that. How can I endure this for 6 months? But others have- why is this so hard for me? Then this statement comes into my mind, "You will be bald." I vocalize what's in my mind out loud, "I will be bald." And I feel the weight of the decision lift immediately. I tell my mom, "I cannot do it," with tears streaming down my face; we both laugh as I cry. "I cannot believe I am going to be bald, and I cannot believe I have cancer!" I exclaim. I text Eli, "I am sorry I will be bald for a while." he responds with a picture of Smallville's' Lex Luthor to make me laugh and says, "You will look beautiful." I doubt I will look that beautiful, but I appreciate the gesture and reassurance. It was the right decision for me.

Lex Luthor from Smallville, played by Michel Rosenbaum

With all the crying and laughing, another nurse rushes to my station to ensure everything is OK. I tell her I won't be doing the caps, and she assures me of my decision and laughs with us. These nurses undoubtedly see their patients experience the full spectrum of emotion that cancer brings, and they handle us like champs.

The pre-med cocktail hits me, and I feel goofy and relaxed as Mom, and I dismantle the cold caps. First, the scarves are untied and balled into my chemo bag, then the straps are removed, the swimming cap, and the cold cap, which is a little less cold after my meltdown. Lastly, we pulled the moleskin off my forehead, and the panty liners ripped off my ears and face. I brush my greasy hair, I look decent. My mom and I take a picture to document this moment (See cover picture), and as I look at the photo, I begin accepting the unacceptable; I will be bald. I have cancer. I will endure 6 months of brutal treatment. I will be OK. We start the infusion process, a streamlined and painless treatment. As the chemo pulses through my veins, it's killing my cancer and pulling out all my pretty hair.

9 commentaires

26 sept. 2023



11 sept. 2023



Michele Vanzo
Michele Vanzo
23 août 2023



Your Face is beautiful, with our without hair. Put your Face on and wear your baldness with Pride. Living is the only thing that is important. POSITIVE ATTITUDE, Juicing Lots of Green Veggies, Prayer and Walk in Faith. You've Got this.


22 août 2023

Work is the best medicine, but still need to take care of your health. I pray for your quick healing and recovery. Sorry I forgot to put my name. D.K. Shah

bottom of page