With Or Without Hair, My Wife Is Always Beautiful
David's wife, a breast cancer survivor, kept her spirit through the ordeal of not only a double mastectomy but also losing her hair. Learn how she came to cope with losing her long hair and embracing "bald and beautiful.
At the time my wife Nina was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had very long, thick hair down to her shoulders. After we met with her surgeon and oncologist, we knew that she’d have a long road ahead of her: surgery, recuperation and then months of chemotherapy. Nina’s oncologist suggested an aggressive chemo plan that was certain make her lose her hair. So, just prior to her surgery for a double mastectomy, she braided her hair into multiple braids and had each of our children cut it. Our oldest daughter was apprehensive, our son laughed but was unsure and our youngest daughter had a blast. Nina donated her hair to Locks of Love and then got her new short hair styled at a salon.
Nina did this for a few reasons: first, her hair has always been thick and she cringed at the idea of having to maintain it post surgery; secondly, she wanted to turn her losing her hair into a positive for someone else… paying it forward. A few weeks into her chemo, Nina noticed her hair starting to get thinner. Rather than letting it fall out piecemeal, she opted to shave it off completely. It was Winter and mighty cold here in Massachusetts. During these Winter months, she wore a number of different hats but would take them off while at home.
I accompanied her to Images Boutique at Massachusetts General Hospital where she had a few fittings for wigs. She opted not to get one and instead wore various hats. As the weather got warmer, she switched her stylish Winter hats to either a Red Sox hat or a baseball hat with a pink Nike swoosh that our son had bought her.
A side effect of her chemo has been her body temperature fluctuating and she's become very sensitive to heat. I joke with her and tell her to go hatless and call it "going commando". "Do you think I should?" she asked? The kids and I all said "yes". Nina has a gregarious personality but was very self conscious at first about not wearing a hat out. Now, she often "goes commando", especially when we're among friends, family and when she's feeling comfortable.
As I write this, it's been exactly one month since her final chemo treatment. Her hair is fine peach fuzz and we're told that may fall out as well yet still. However, she's grown more comfortable and confident with her look. Her peach fuzz is what looks to be either blond or white even. I asked her if she was okay with that and she's excited at the possibility of it growing in all white so she can then add streaks of color to it (blue, pink, and so on).
Watching my wife go through cancer has been an insane rollercoaster ride of emotions. My wife has always been beautiful to me and that hasn't changed through this ordeal. Our kids and I have grown accustomed to her new look so much so that it'll be interesting to see her with hair again as it grows in. So many of our friends have told Nina that she has been an inspiration to them as she has kept her tremendous attitude throughout this ordeal. She's beating cancer and not letting it take away her vitality. I hope that for those of you who may be just beginning this journey can look to people like Nina as sources of inspiration.
As a good friend of ours who is battling appendiceal cancer said, "I look forward to when this is all done and we can look back and say, 'Remember that time I had cancer? Weird'."
(Image courtesy of IHadCancer and the author)