Rites of passage

It was the hair falling out into my breakfast cereal that did it. I wasn’t sure at all about cutting off all of my hair, cutting it shorter than many boys, but then I was eating breakfast and all of a sudden there was hair in my food. And it was my hair. Aaargh. Super-annoying to say the least.

I know it’s hard to wrap your head around the image of me with hair that is so short – 1/2″ long, but try this: imagine my head as if I were becoming a Buddhist monk, disavowing vanity, embracing a simple aesthetic in order to focus on a sacred life. Or, alternately, imagine me as a soldier just starting out, my individuality stripped, the groundwork laid for the process of transformation that allows one to fight.

I think my favorite image is from a friend who as a young 20-yr old cut her hair super short as part of the process of coming out. She said the surprising effect was that it opened the top of her head, her crown shakra to the energy from the sky. I think maybe that’s the most positive image: imagine my crown chakra now more connected than ever before to the sky, imagine all that sky life-force energy pouring in. And pulling me up.

So sky-energy and a sacred fight, literally for my life. It’s this part of the treatment, much more than surgery, that feels like a real fight – this is where the term “survivor” comes from, because this part, this is all about surviving. Just having the right to breathe. There was a point last week when I felt like I was dying, like the cells inside me were dying, which was very, very scary. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that bad before. I wanted to stop chemo, but that felt like choosing not to survive, which felt just as bad as choosing to continue, except that we know that choosing not to finish chemo is in the worse choice. So I’ll continue, and maybe this next round of chemo won’t be so bad.*

But now I have the sky-energy on my side, so that’s got to help, right? Also, somehow it feels right to be physically transformed in such a visible way – like having a broken arm and having a cast on it. This says to the world: hey, there’s something going on here. Which is true.


* NB: So hey, don’t go getting all sad – just FYI, my prognosis is very, very good. I am NOT dying. Got it? Ok, so don’t go getting melodramatic on me. Just stop that thought track right now. I have such a good prognosis that I don’t talk about it much because in the universe of breast cancer there are so many who are so much worse off that it seems in bad form to talk about my prognosis. So I don’t. Just so you know. If anything is dying, it’s those damn cancer cells.

And my hair. And my gut lining. The latter two are however temporary and fixable. The long-term view here is the one that works. Imagine me being 80, with beautiful white hair.



Filed under breast cancer, chemo, hair loss

2 responses to “Rites of passage

  1. Beth

    I see the image of you opening and reaching for divine sky energy, as you say a right of passage in sooooooooooo many ways, with you feet firmly planted in the earth. Hey if your crown is opening how are you getting your feet planted (playing in dirt, going to the Rose garden, the ocean, the bath tub…or…)? Breathe in the beauty, ‘cuz it must just absolutly suck sometimes this ride, this cancer stuff, this journey you are on. Learn new tricks for life that you’ll use again when you are facing the challanges of gracefully aging.

    thinking of you today and everyday.
    in love and light.

  2. You are exactly 2 weeks ahead of me in treatment… May 30 is my head shaving. Can I borrow your imagery?

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that round 2 is easier on you.

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