I’m going to be honest, losing my hair was one of the most upsetting things during this process. It wasn’t because I thought I would be ugly, it was more about the cancer stigma around being bald.
Being on the floor/in the hospital for so long I didn’t really see it. It wasn’t until I was released back into the general population that I started to notice the strange looks from people when I would go out. I would notice people in grocery aisles watch me carefully, or just stare at me for extended periods of time – what have you never seen a bald person before?
It hurt. I know that I’m different, and right now the scars from my port and bruises covering my stomach tell me that more than ever. I don’t need some stranger adding to this new sick stigma.
My favorite part though is when people who don’t know me see that I’m bald and ask me why – because I don’t look sick so why am I bald. First off, that isn’t any of their business, secondly, if I wasn’t sick then maybe I just like that hair style, and third you don’t need to look sick to feel sick. There are many days when I look outwardly healthy but can barely stand because I feel so weak.
The ongoing battle outside is almost worse than the one raging inside. I feel like I don’t know where I fit in anymore, after going through so much now I just don’t know how I can find comfort in the outside world. I feel like it’s me against them, and I don’t know how to explain what I’ve gone through anymore. And I also don’t have the energy. I just want someone to take over the explanation process for me, like a constant defense team to fight off the sympathetic looks, and overheard questions.
It’s hard to be normal when you feel the constant cancer stigma. I wish there was some way I could shake it.