This is the sixth or seventh time I’ve been on chemo, depending on how we’re counting. Ages two to four, nine-ten, and seventeen are pretty clear cut as instances one, two, and three. Then I recall another multi-year pause before enjoying a spot of chemo before my first Roman adventure in 2001. If memory serves, that was the birth of the “reverse mullet” joke with a few friends. The chemo thinned my hair, but it didn’t fall out entirely, so we posited that as it regrew I would have a reverse mullet. Upon my return stateside, I resumed chemo. Does that count as a separate instance? I think so, because it was a different cocktail.
Had I not gone to Rome, it would have been continuous, but I informed the doctors that I would be going to Rome for a semester, so they needed to figure out how to make that happen. I distinctly recall sitting around the big table in the conference room on Ward 52 at Walter’s, listening to them spout off the litany of reasons why it was a bad idea, and after a while, I started doodling. When they were had run out of excuses, I handed the chief of the clinic the paper. I had drawn ROMA in big, fancy block letters and all sorts of excitable representations surrounding it and said, “I’m going to Rome. I’d like for you to help me make that happen. I am keenly aware that it’s not ideal from a medical perspective. But I am going to Rome, because if I never did anything that was less than ideal from a medical perspective, I’d never leave my house. So let’s figure this out together.”
I needed to go to Rome, even more so after that discussion, for reasons I’ll share with you another time. So we figured it out, and it was everything I needed it to be. It healed me in ways chemo never could have. When I returned, I was pleased to find my ROMA artwork pinned up to the wall of my doctor’s office. We resumed chemo, bringing us to four or five instances, depending on how we’re counting. That was followed by another pause, with a chemo send-off in the months before I fled to the cannolis of Boston’s North End and the suspiciously cheap produce of the farmer’s market at Haymarket in late summer 2006 (instance five or six). And now again in 2016 (instance six or seven). We wouldn’t want my liver and kidneys to become complacent or anything.
I mentioned in the last post that I have no illusions that this time will be nearly as fun as it was when I was ten and part of the three amigas. However. Comma. Pregnant pause. Never has the prospect of losing my hair been anywhere near as fun as this go round. I threw it out there that I had something special planned with, Makida, my fabulous stylist at PR@Partners in Old Town, and four of you decided to make it a party last Wednesday evening. I’m not sure the salon staff has ever had so much fun. They all seemed to be finding excuses to come upstairs and wander by Makida’s station, or into the other two rooms we adjourned to at various times.
Perhaps it was because we invited Tina Turner. What can I say? Makida and I needed to know what love had to do with it. Thus began the singing and dancing portion of the evening, which never really ended. That’s also about when the wine arrived. Everyone partook, regardless of wineless Januaries and new year diets. After all, I have cancer! That’s right, I pulled the card. Totally worth it! Because then Whitney Houston showed up wanting to dance with somebody, thereby performing the official theme song of this post. And dance some more we did. As did others!
So. You have two, maybe three weeks if you want to see it in person. To bask in the glory of the magenta with a bright blue-green undergrowth. To marvel in the wonder of its amazingness.
After that, #PeaceOutHair!
If public reaction thus far is any guide, Makida’s handiwork will continue to make quite the splash. With the exception of the outpatient chemo infusion clinic Thursday morning, where I suppose commenting on hair, either good or bad, is poor form, it’s been a big hit everywhere else I’ve gone. The guys collecting money for charity outside the grocery store – “Love your hair!” Staff, fellow volunteers, and residents alike at the shelter – big and vocal fans. I must admit, I laughed out loud to myself with sheer joy as I blowdried my hair today.
However, in an abrupt plot twist at the end of today’s post, I shan’t be donning a wig when it all falls to the wayside. I was all wigged out after instances two and three in 1992/3 and 1998/9, respectively. Such a hassle, constantly worrying that it’s crooked or that your best friend might accidentally pull it off on the playground, not realizing it isn’t real. Much easier to embrace baldness with wild and reckless abandon like Phil Collins. To view the head as another canvas to accessorize. #ChemoSilverLining I’ve amassed quite the collection of scarves over the course of instances four through five/six, and in an effort to support the economy, I recently acquired a few new additions. It was my patriotic duty. #YoureWelcomeAmerica It’s also much faster to get ready in the morning. No need to lather, rinse, repeat, condition, rinse, dry, style… just face wash and lotion the whole head, et voila! Done and done. Another #ChemoSilverLining
Jealous yet? Give it time…