Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Hair Out of Place

When Rick got home from work yesterday I pointed out that Ducks linebacker Michael Clay used to be a deep snapper, but is no longer. Rick had to wonder what had gotten into me, reading the sports page like that. Well – I didn't read it on purpose.

Everybody knows you lose your hair when you get chemotherapy, but the precise trajectory of hair loss isn't one we usually dwell on. Hair doesn't fall out all at once like leaves from a cartoon tree. You start to shed a few hairs at a time, like a cat. Pretty soon there are individual strands everywhere, but still, you can see that if you let it go on like this the process is going to take months. So you comb your fingers through your hair, and you get it to come out by the fingersful. It sounds horrifying – okay, it is sort of horrifying – but I've made a little project of it, combing over my scalp a few times a day with my fingers and taking out as much at a time as I can. It doesn't hurt. But you wouldn't want all that hair going down the sink. So I've been setting the sports page in the basin to catch my sheddings. And, well, in the process I couldn't help reading what was printed there, the way you can't help reading street signs and cereal boxes. I'm sorry, Michael Clay. Maybe I should start eliminating my chemo-stunned tresses into a copy of War and Peace.


  1. The beauty of your writing, the pathos in your experience, made me cry.

  2. Darling Jan, you and only you can possess the generosity, grace and humor to actually buoy up your friends and keep us smiling with love for you in this heart-warming, heart-wrenching way through a cancer blog, of all means. Thank you for letting us know how you are. The fact that you can still find humor in your situation makes me feel better. I love you. How's the water-pik going? Suzo

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