I Don't Want Solidarity

There is a buzz about a celebrity who just cut her very long hair. Clare Bowen who stars in the ABC drama Nashville recently just cut her hair very short because she wanted others to know that hair doesn't make the person. 

"I was inspired when I heard a story about a little girls who said she couldn't be a princess because she didn't have long hair," Bowen wrote on Facebook. "I wanted her and others like her, to know that's not what makes a princess, or a warrior, or a superhero. It's not what makes you beautiful either. It's your insides that count...even if you happen to be missing half of them." 

While I agree with her I don't want her solidarity. She goes on:

"Every scar tells a story every bald head, every dark circle, every prosthetic limb, and every reflection in a mirror that you might not recognize anymore. Look deeper than skin, hair, nails and lips. You are who you are in your bones. That is where you have the potential to shine the brightest from. It is where your true beautiful self lives." 

While I agree with her, I don't need her solidarity. She concludes:

"If it makes even one person think twice about judging another, then in some small way, the world is better."

While I agree with her, I don't want her solidarity. 

Yes, I know she had cancer when a child and was bald, scarred, etc. I know all that. But it is totally different when you are an adult. I don't want her solidarity and here is why:

I was 40 and bald because cancer took my hair. One day I felt good enough to go to Costco. I knew what usually took an hour or so to shop was going to take not only two or three hours but multiple trips to the car because I was still physically wiped out. I have to shop at Costco because, cancer or no cancer, I was still the mom to six kids and all were teenagers. Not only that Costco has a bunch of great frozen dinners and sometimes, that was all I could do for dinner.  I had ended treatment and I actually saw a few hairs where my eyebrows once were. I had peach fuzz. The very kind all my kids had when they were born (well, except my second child who was born with a head of hair). I was actually feeling GREAT compared to the last 11 months. I thought I could even handle all the food smells in Costco without throwing up.

Just as I was about to load my stuff on the belt, one person called me "sir" and I about lost it. Any self-esteem I felt coming back that morning as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and examined my cancer riddled body was gone. I did everything I could not to cry right there on the spot. It would look ridiculous for a 40 year old grown woman to cry. I didn't make the second trip through the store. I just got in my van, called my husband and sobbed my way home. 

I don't want solidarity.

What does cutting your hair completely off or even a pixie cut have to do with cancer? People who do this aren't sick. They don't understand. It's not just hair on the top of our head. It is our eyebrows, our eyelashes, our legs, our everywhere! Those people will see a little stubble in a few days. I went six months with no hair! Completely from tip to toes: NO HAIR!

I don't want solidarity.

Those people don't have dark circles under their eyes that no amount of make up will change. And just for the record, your skin cells are sluffing off so fast that your face is kind of raw from  washing it. Make up is only for the days when you HAVE to look good. But no mascarra because when you go to take it off you will lose any eyelashes that you have left. Washing your face just plain hurts. 

I don'w want solidarity.

They don't have scars from surgeries that are raw and sore. 
They don't have tattooed dots on their body telling the radiation technician exactly where to aim that laser. 
They don't spend hour after hour in the bathroom puking their guts out just because they thought they smelt something. 
Their hairless arms aren't covered in bruises because some nurse can't find a vein. The vein can't be found because it is either so scarred from being poked so many times or you are so dehydrated that you could drink a river and you would still have flat veins (remember that puking?). 

I don't want solidarity. 

These people don't live every day with the threat of relapses. There is no fear that they will lose their hair again. They do not take a deep breath when call ID says, Dr. Kraemer's office. They don't fear the next lab report or scan report. They don't know the taste of "Banana Smoothie Barium Sulfate Suspension" nor do they know what a nuclear chaser is. 

I don't want solidarity.

They don't hear the clicking sound of MRI or CT scan machines in their sleep. 

I don't want solidarity.

They don't see a scar on their body every morning while dressing to remind them they have cancer.

I don't want solidarity.

I have reminders all over my body that I have cancer and that it will never be cured (although I do hold out hope). I have a port, a scar on my sternum, I think I counted ten tattoo dots on my tummy and a few more scars on my back that thankfully I usually don't see. 

I don't want solidarity.

But let's get back to the bald part. Hair is a HUGE identifier of who we are as women. I have struggled with my hair my entire life. I've never liked it. It's always been the wrong color, cut, texture, too straight, thin, etc. Then I lost it all and when it came back it was going to get new hair. NOPE! I got the same mousy brown thin straight as a stick hair I had before. But I had hair and for that I was thankful. But more importantly it said I was HEALTHY! Chemotherapy drugs were no longer coursing through my veins. 

In fact the day before this gal's hair cut went public I got a note from a male friend via Facebook,

"I saw you in the choir at Stake conference and thought, "Wow, her hair is getting long. That is soooo cool!" Not just for fashion, but what it means for your health. So glad you are still with us."

Hair means health! It doesn't mean solidarity.

Hair means I won this battle!

Those who shave their heads in "solidarity," I get you want to show support. I understand that and it might seem like a great idea and be the only thing you think you can do. But please do not pretend to know what it feels like. 

Bald means cancer is winning but I'm putting up a fight. Bald means the fight is still on. Bald mean sick. I see this every time I walk into the clinic for a check up. There is always someone who is standing on the doorstep of death. Plugged into a "dance partner" that is silently killing them. I just pray that they fight back and say, "Not today, Cancer! Not today." But if they give up, I totally understand the desire to go through those doors. I've been there. 

Cancer sucks!
Cancer kills!
Chemotherapy sucks!
Chemotherapy kills!
Baldness sucks!

Please don't show me your solidarity by cutting off your hair. But if you do donate. But I'd rather you keep your hair and donate your money so a researcher can find a cure.  Donate so a patient can afford to take a cab to the clinic. Donate! I really don't want to see your bald head and you don't want to see mine (although I do have a darn good looking head). I really want a cure for cancer.

I don't want solidarity. 

I want a cure for cancer! That's what I really want! 

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