I've talked about my vanity before. How I've struggled to accept the changes that cancer has brought to my appearance, my body, my self-image. I might have mentioned once or a hundred times that my hair grew back in gray, and what isn't grey is nearly black. And that I didn't care for it much at all.
I've enjoyed having thick hair. Thick hair with a pretty good curl to it. Yes - I finally got my chemo curls after all. I just have had a hard time having gray hair. I've gone back and forth for weeks about whether I was going to just get used to being gray-headed, or go ahead and dye my hair again. On one hand, there's a lot to be said for growing old gracefully. On the other hand - I'm only 48, and I'm not so sure I want to spend the rest of what life I have looking 10 years older than I really am.
Last week I made an appointment with my hair dresser. I wanted to get my wild locks under some kind of control - as my hair has grown back in, it has grown at different rates, leaving me with odd lengths around my head. I intended on getting her to even things out, and let me rock a cute sassy spiky do - like I never had the guts to do back in the Before. I still hadn't made up my mind whether or not I was going to get her to dye it for me. After all - I'm starting back on chemo soon, and at the very least my hair will thin, if not all fall out completely.
But then, at lunch last Friday, the cute little cashier at the local Rosa's Cantina gave me the senior citizen's discount. On the one day when not only was I meeting my best friend for lunch, but at the next table were a couple of old friends from high school.
Seriously? I'm FORTY-EIGHT. I know I had a head of grey hair, but really?
As I posted on Facebook, I was insulted that this kid (who obviously must think everyone over 40 is ancient) thought I qualified for a senior citizen discount, but not so insulted that I gave them their 79 cents back. It's the least they could do after making me feel old. In front of my friends! Hmph. (Not that my friends didn't enjoy it. I'm pretty sure my humiliation made their day, if their laughter were anything to judge by.)
Needless to say, when I made it to the hair dressers' later that day, I most certainly did have her dye my hair. Take that, 18 year old boy. Not to mention former classmates and alleged best friend.
Was it an extravagance? Absolutely. But you know what? I feel more like myself. I see myself in the mirror and I no longer ask "who is that old woman?" I don't know what grandma is doing in my house. At a time when my belly is filling up more and more with ascites every day, I have no problem splurging a little to feel better about myself as I start a new chemo journey.
So tonight as I sit here blogging while trying to drink my berry flavored contrast (which let's be honest here - tastes like liquid chalk with a couple of berries mixed in - blech), I'm happy with my dark brown hair with the blonde highlights and the spiky do. When I go in to get my latest CT scan, and labs, and see my oncologist to discuss what our new treatment plan will be, I go in with the false confidence of a woman who has colored her hair. A woman who is trying to fool herself into thinking that nothing has really changed.
Even though everything has. But I can live with that.
Sure beats the alternative.
(And for all those who have already found the grace to accept their gray hair, I am so impressed by you. One of these days I will join you. Just...not yet. Not quite yet. I choose to live in the land of denial a wee bit longer)