• Carmen Marie Fabio

The long and the short of it


I blinked when my lunch date, a dear friend, walked into the restaurant last week as I hadn’t seen her for a month or so. Her previously short cropped hair had been replaced with shoulder length auburn tresses with blonde highlights.

“Cool,” I said.

“I feel like a fraud,” she replied.

It’s not that she’s not grateful for the wig that was given to her free of charge, but rather that the abrupt transition from having a full head of hair to chemotherapy-induced baldness covered with acrylic locks felt completely foreign. But having the wig also boosts her confidence so that she’s not seen as ‘sick’ by those she encounters.

“People battling cancer are fighters and I think the wig helps them to feel like they are doing just that; by giving the ability to go and get a feel of normal again.”

Like most things in life that we take for granted until they’re gone, most of us don’t give our hair much thought other than wash and wear and the odd colour change. But to suddenly be without what, for many of us constitutes a large portion of our identity, is an indignity in a difficult battle.

I don’t think it’s sexist to say hair plays a more substantial role in women’s lives than men’s so it’s with deep admiration that I tip my hat to the gals who’ll be shearing short – in some cases bald – for the upcoming Shave2Save event this April 30 at the Hudson Fire Department, the third in an annual fundraising initiative to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society (see story on page15).

Two of my boys who’ll be taking part (the third opting to wait until his hair is long enough to be used for an actual wig) are daring, challenging, and goading me into joining them.

Having just been surpassed in height by everyone in the house by the growing boys that I foolishly keep feeding, the poofy hairstyle is the only thing that keeps me taller than them and I’ve threatened my youngest I’d adopt a Marge Simpson hairstyle to preserve my hierarchy. He responded by patting me on the head.

At this writing, I’m still sitting on the chicken fence and while I’ve sported virtually every hair colour under the rainbow and had styles ranging from frizzy curls to punk spikes, the thought of cutting it all off just ain’t sitting well. Being bald means my face will have to do all the work.

A participant in the Shave2Save event, who last year chopped off her 17-inch long dark hair, told me she realized after it was gone that she used to hide behind her hair and its loss forced her out of a comfort zone. And I guess for most of us, that’s the scary part but not nearly as scary as battling cancer.

My buddy told me she doesn’t wear the wig at home and as a nod of respect to her perfectly shaped bald head, her husband bought her a pair of Doc Martens, just like the pair she wore when they first met.

I like the symbolism of the boots as rebellion in the fight against cancer and the bald heads you’re bound to be seeing over the next few weeks are a kickass gesture of solidarity for those going through a fight that, in one way or another, touches us all.

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