Keep Your Dignity: a Thought about Wigs


My parents call me at least twice a week from their home 2500 miles away, on the other side of the continent (it might as well be the galaxy). They also send me frequent care packages. The last one contained a sample “knitty titty” and a green hat that my sister in law, Ruth, knitted for me. Packages filled with love. It’s hard to put into words how much that helps.

Yesterday, in our usual hour and a half conversation (I am saved by T-Mobile’s Five Faves program!), the conversation turned to the fact that yesterday my hair loss began in earnest. In the shower, there was a veritable pelican’s nest of hair left, and my hair kept falling in clumps for a few more hours after that.

Mom said she had another care package for me, and that she would be sending it out today (Monday). In it would be some more knitted things from Ruth, including another hat. Many of the breast cancer survivors I know who are now in chemo, or were recently — and are bald because of it — say they get tired of the wigs and just wear a scarf or a hat. I decided long ago that the “sick person” scarf look wasn’t for me. Ruth had knitted me two hats already, I was given a soft, delicious pink one by the local BCS group, and I had received a box of funky hats from Heavenly Hats (see my links box).

I already have two wigs, a long one and a short one (see my page on wigs for details);  I’m working on getting a third one (Update: I purchased it Monday, see the “wig” page for details).

Dad said to me, “you do plan to wear your wigs, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I said emphatically. “My students said they would love to see me wear a different  wig to every class meeting.”

I told him I plan to wear a wig every time I go out in public, and maybe just wear the hats at home, when I’m working on the computer or whatever. But in public, it’s a wig, and that’s that.

“Keep your dignity,” he said softly.

Damned straight I will, I said. Cancer and its treatment may have taken my left breast, my lymph nodes, my hair and the lining of my stomach (to name a few body parts), but it is not defeating me. I may be exhausted just from walking up the stairs from the basement. I may lose a day of teaching every two weeks. I may be beat up and scarred, sick, fatigued, and as pale as the walking dead, but I am not defeated. Wearing a “sick person” scarf or a hat in public, I said, is like saying, “I give up. The cancer wins.”

My Dad is a proud man, strong, obstinate and tenacious. You can see where I get it from. What I didn’t inherit from him genetically, I learned. He’s tough and smart. He’s been really sick with bronchitis and an unusual form of adult-onset epilepsy, and come through it. He survived the cutthroat apparel manufacturing business and managed to keep his soft heart. Yeah, he’s a tough old bird, but he’d give you the shirt off his back if yours was full of holes or you looked cold.

Of course I’ll wear the wigs, whether or not they itch, or are too hot in the summer, or whatever.

Disclaimer: Void where prohibited. Not valid in all situations. Your mileage may vary. Do whatever makes you feel good; I’m not discrediting or passing judgment on anyone for choosing to wear a turban, or go Sinead O’Connor, or wear your bath towel. Do what pleases you. ((((Hugs)))))


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