I was standing in the middle of Target when I heard a young girl’s voice shout, “PINK HAIRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of her lungs. I turned and was faced with a little girl around three years old yelling and pointing at me and tugging on her father’s shirt for him to “look look!! Pink hair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she shouted again. She had my attention. We were standing there, face to face, staring at each other approximately six feet apart. It was as if this tiny toddler and I were in our own little world for a brief moment. It got a little quiet and then she smiled at me and pulled on her own hair and said, a bit softer this time, “blond hair!” With that, our encounter was over and that little blond headed child had reminded me that I have hot pink hair now. How could I have forgotten??!
It all started earlier that day when I woke up and was feeling particularly awful. For some people, they look forward to the weekend. For me, I look forward to THE EIGHTH DAY. The eighth day for me is crucial. The eighth day for me is a turning point. The eighth day is when things finally start to turn around after I have gone in for a chemo treatment. Eight days after I have a chemo session, things feel just a little bit better. For some reason, after this particular chemo, the eighth day came and went with much less pizzazz than usual. I was perplexed and saddened by the fact that I wasn’t getting better. My nausea was continuing. My fatigue was holding steady. I was so frustrated by the fact that my normal glimpses of the light at the end of the chemo-round-tunnel were nowhere to be found.
I received an email a few weeks prior from a dear friend that I used to work with when I worked in Washington (D.C. not the state) for a year before I began law school. We shared an office and she was super cool in pretty much every way and I was envious of her great style and the fact that she lived above a Whole Foods. Both things I strive to attain at some point in my lifetime. In her email she asked what kind of wig I was looking for and I was delighted to tell her I would prefer a hot pink one. I figure if you are bald, and sick all the time, and the most exciting part of your day is seeing what is on your DVR list, that a girl has got to have herself a hot pink wig. It just makes sense. She felt as though she was up to the task as she was heading to New Orleans for New Years where there just so happens to be a fabulous wig shop. A few days ago I received a message from her: “Keep an eye out for Fedex.” It was coming! The hot pink wig was in transport and I was stoked!
A few days later, on day ten (after my third round of chemo), I woke up in my sister’s old room as usual. (I cannot even sleep in my old room in my parents’ house anymore due to the association I have made with the room and sickness. The entire room makes me feel like I am going to throw up because that is where I spent some of my darkest chemo hours. So, I literally cannot sleep in there currently. I have told my mom that perhaps we will have to just tear that room down and start again. She is unsurprisingly hesitant to start the ball rolling on that one.) Ok, back to me waking up. I get up and I walk my bald-headed self to the front door like I did every morning for a few days in search of a Fedex box. I first went to my front door. Nothing. I was bummed. I walked to the side door. Again nothing. Boo. Then, I walked to another side door (I do not know why we have so many doors but we do) and I saw something. I saw something that resembled a Fedex box. I FREAKED OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You don’t understand. I had nothing to do for those ten days but feel like crap and watch an absurd amount of reality television. I grabbed the box, ripped into it and (insert music you would hear descending from the heavens here) IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. And it is HOT, HOT pink. I was so excited at that point that I was fumbling around in circles trying to contain myself but I couldn’t. Ever since I was diagnosed I had been envisioning Katy Perry pink days. Roll back the tapes people—it was in my first blog post. Visions of me sportin’ around town with a pink “do” had been running through my mind. I have been bald for several weeks and have been trying to deal with that accordingly but nothing will help me deal like a beautiful pink wig. A beautiful PINK wig that says, “Hey, I have breast cancer, and I am bald and I lost all of about 20 pounds of my beautiful long brown hair, and it sucks, but I am going to get through this because I have a PINK freaking wig. In your face, cancer.” Old ladies are going to judge me, young girls are gonna love me, and I am going to sport it knowing that I am pink and I am proud and I am loud and that is just how it is.
When I got the wig I was overjoyed. This time, however, I didn’t cry. I was too happy to cry. Instead I did innovative things like took a shower, and brushed my teeth, and…wait for it…I-PUT-ON-JEANS. That is when you will know if I feel good or if I feel just ok. If I have jeans on we have reached a place where I feel good. And that is how I felt. With that pink wig on I could do anything. And that, my friends, brings me back full circle to that little girl screaming about my pink hair. That is the power of pink, dear readers. That pink wig was able to pull me out of my chemo conundrum and get me out into the real world again. Think what you want, but there is a message in there. There is some sort of method to the madness of all the pink merchandise bulging out of the stores during October—breast cancer awareness month. There is something to the hundreds of thousands of people sporting the pink ribbon in one way, shape, or form. There is a power there that is able to pull someone who is going through the most intense chemotherapy treatment possible (literally, ask my oncologist) out of her chemo stupor.
There have been mixed reactions around town. Men completely ignore my pink hair. As I have mentioned, young kids love it. Just like the little girl at Target, I have been getting a consistently positive response from our future generation. Also, a girl who was probably around twenty-one stopped me the other day and she just gushed over my hair and how much she loved it. Later on that day a woman who was about seventy-one passed me and she grumbled under her breath to her husband, “It looks synthetic.” So perhaps the younger generation is digging on the pink more than the older. But my favorite experience was when I was in a store, and a girl stopped me and told me how much she loved it, and then explained that she had been to a Katy Perry concert, and how everyone there sports different colored wigs, and mine would have been perfect yadda yadda yadda. So, it is official. I am successful in having my Katy Perry pink days.
That all happened last week after my third round of chemo. I had my fourth round of chemo a few days ago and for the most part I have been sleeping in bed, heavily medicated because that is mostly all I can do. I am up and awake and trying to finish this blog post so you people know I am still alive—that is my level of dedication to the cause. I feel awful, but I am more worried about you guys getting your uppertrunk fix. So this time will you just forgive grammatical errors and be lenient on the punctuation problems? K, thanks.
I had my fourth round of chemo three days ago. The beauty of that is that it was my last Red Devil round. EVER!!!!!! I move on to a new drug next time. Supposedly the last four rounds are much easier than the first four. I have made it half way. I HAVE MADE IT HALF WAY! I wish I felt better so I could appropriately celebrate it, but for now just know that I have made it halfway through my chemo treatment. I did wear my pink wig to chemo. When I walked into the lobby, most everyone in the Cancer Center turned to get a glimpse. It is hard not to look. When I walked through the doors to the chemo room little ladies with no hair gave me these huge heartbreaking smiles. I looked at them and they looked at me and there was just this moment where I knew that I was making their day a little brighter. Perhaps they were fighting breast cancer, perhaps another form of cancer, but regardless we were in this fight together to a certain degree and I was the crazy one walking around town in a hot pink wig fighting for my cause and for theirs. I walked into the chemo room and all the oncology nurses smiled and cheered for the pink hair. I announced upon arrival in a dramatic fashion, “This is my last round of the Red Devil and I am taking her out in style.” I helped the mood of the entire room shift and I am thankful that I could bring at least a little sunshine to others going through this.
As I was leaving after chemo, I saw a little old lady from the corner of my eye ask her husband to lead her towards me. She was bald and frail, and obviously going through cancer. By her appearance alone it was easy to tell she had been down a tough road with the chemotherapy. Her skin was pale and sunken in, and her breathing was heavy. She was having a very difficult time walking by herself and needed to rest on her husband for assistance. She walked slowly but deliberately over to me and when she finally reached me she looked up, her eyes were wide, her smile stretched across her fragile face, and she told me with an overwhelming sense of sincerity, “I just love your hair.” That is the power of pink.