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Gone, Gone, Gone

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08/20/2013

Editor's note: Jamie was brave enough to share her story of learning she had breast cancer with Oy! last month. You can read that story here and follow all of Jamie's posts on her blog, J-Strong.

Gone, Gone, Gone photo 1

It happened. As much as I knew it was coming, it still seemed unexpected and definitely unwelcome. Sunday brought LOTS of shedding, enough to the point of buying a lint brush. I still thought I’d have a few days, but when I woke up Monday morning to a pillow full of hair and a tingling scalp, I guess I knew it was time. Luckily, my wig fitting appointment was scheduled for that afternoon.

The thing is, I thought we would just be picking it up to be proactive. I got in the shower with my phone playing music on shuffle per usual. I washed everywhere else there was to wash until I could no longer avoid getting my head wet. The second the water hit, my hair started falling into the tub in clumps. As fast as the clumps were gathering, so were the tears streaming. I’m not just talking a calm cry; I’m talking a full-blown, uncontrollable meltdown.

What made the sobbing pick up pace was when I stopped to breathe and realized what song was playing in the background. It was the same song that came on the radio the night I received my diagnosis. It is the song that has had the ability to make me crumble every time I’ve heard it since that day. But the thing is, I love the song! I haven’t removed it from my phone; I don’t skip to the next song when it comes on.

I am a firm believer that everyone needs a good cry once in a while and that it solves nothing to bottle everything up. The fact that I barely cried in the early weeks of learning I have breast cancer was so unlike me. I am an incredibly emotional person. I cry watching commercials, I cry in job interviews … you name it – appropriate or not – I’ve cried. The fact that I wasn’t letting it all out was beyond me. I’m not sure if I was trying to be strong; it’s one thing to put on a brave face in front of others, but I wasn’t even letting myself cry when I was alone. It was strange.

That is why, subconsciously, I think I let “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips stay on my playlist. I think I wanted it there to force the tears out. The day after my diagnosis, my husband and I went to see Phillip Phillips perform as part of my birthday present. Lucky for me, a concert is a great environment to let it all out with nobody noticing – not even Joe. But you better believe that when that song came on I bawled my eyes out.

Don’t take me the wrong way. It isn’t even about the lyrics. I know I am going to be around for a long time to come. Nobody needs to worry about loving me long after I’m gone, gone, gone. But that night driving home from teaching dance (and answering the doctor’s phone call in the bathroom before proceeding to teach the rest of the class), when you get in the car and such a song comes on and you know you’re headed home to tell your fiancé at the time and parents that you have cancer … well, it’s certainly a song that will move you to tears.

So anyway, standing in the shower exactly four months to the day I was diagnosed, the same frickin’ song playing, I let go. I can’t even keep count of how many people have told me it will grow back. I know that it will, but that doesn’t make it suck any less. When you stand there with the water beating down on you and watch it all fall out and physically feel it doing so, it sucks. Nobody wants to be bald. I couldn’t even look in the mirror.

Now I am definitely exaggerating. For what was falling out, I told my mom it was 75 percent of my hair. I still had plenty, but it was starting to come out from the roots on top and it was devastating. I lied around watching TV for a little bit (my new guilty pleasure Devious Maids distracted me for a while). I finally had enough of feeling sorry for myself and decided since we had time to kill before my wig appointment, I would get dressed, throw on my Cubs hat and head to the mall for a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the energy to get much shopping done. We went to McDonald’s and even a large Diet Coke didn’t taste good to me. That never happens.

The appointment wasn’t so bad. Before we even got started, the women insisted on seeing pictures and hearing about the wedding. Without hesitation, we kept talking as she cut what was left of my hair and shaved the rest. I had a G.I. Jane moment and didn’t even mind how I looked. It was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. I felt like a bad ass and I still even felt pretty. Not enough to the point to walk around proudly with a bald head, but still.

Prepping the wig was a different story. It was such a process. They put it on your head wet so it starts to mold and they start cutting and shaping. I couldn’t remember where my hair had parted or where my bangs started and how long they were. I was not at all helpful in making the wig look like me. I was getting anxious because once it was ready and I would take it off and try putting it on, it wasn’t in the right place. I was frustrated from trying too hard. I know I will begin to get used to it, but for now, I just feel like I am wearing a wig and therefore when I look in the mirror, that is what I see. At least I have found a new accessory to shop for. Bring on the hats.

Gone, Gone, Gone photo 2

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