In today’s piece, we share a story of a lovely young lady who went bald due to her cancer treatment.
Have you ever heard the phrase “own your truth”? Leila struggled with her truth as she prepared for treatment for a breast cancer recurrence.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is unnerving, to say the least. It puts your realities to the front, compels you to consider what matters most, and involves a great deal of decision-making. Leila’s sole surgical option was a mastectomy because this was her second breast cancer diagnosis. She was given the option of a single or double mastectomy. She was trying to avoid hearing, for the third time, “you have breast cancer.”
Leila did opt for a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction since she was not emotionally prepared to go flat. Because this was a return of more aggressive breast cancer, chemotherapy was suggested at her meeting with her oncologist.
When Leila heard the words “aggressive breast cancer” and “chemotherapy” in the same sentence, she knew she was in for a discussion about her hair loss.
Hearing that she’d be bald by her second treatment was yet another hard pill to swallow. Her hair was a part of her identity, not because she loved it more than life. Yes, Leila was the kind of girl who would spend hours at a salon having her long locs cleaned, conditioned, retwisted, and styled, with the occasional color and trim.
The thought of going bald made her anxious, especially since one of the treatment regimens would last a year. How would I mentally prepare to move from long locs to a smooth scalp? She was concerned about her self-esteem.
Would I see myself as beautiful? How would people address me? A feminine or masculine? Would people know I have cancer and feel sorry for me?
Her thoughts were common among cancer patients as most people are visual. I’m sure you’d agree that people make assumptions based on what they see and want things to appear nice, although definitions can vary from one person to another.
Leila was proactive about going bald. She cut her locs rather than witness them falling out. She has detested wigs since she was a child, so that wasn’t an option. However, she had no intention of displaying her baldness. Her solution was to wear hats, which she adored and would gladly spend more money on them.
One sunny day, she decided to be daring and go out without a hat. She passed a disheveled woman on the street and overheard her say, “Miss, Miss.” She thought of ignoring her because she was in a rush and assumed she would ask for money, but she stopped.
The woman said as Leila turned around, “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I noticed you and wanted to tell you that you are rockin’ that bald head. You are beautiful.” Leila expressed her gratitude. And was moved deeply! Her mentality was changed as a result of the encounter, and she was able to “own her truth.”
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