Goodbye, Janis Joplin.
Sarah had her first chemotherapy today (yesterday, technically).
So Far So Good
Her doctors at Primary Children’s staged her definitively with Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (with an “A” rating – she can have outpatient chemo, etc.) after the final CT and gallium scan. This means no cancer in the pelvic region, no cancer in the bone marrow and none in the liver and/or spleen. She has significant fast-growing growth in the “mantle” region (chest, neck, etc.), so she couldn’t be staged at Stage I.
On Friday her hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Afify (very cool name, I must say), said that she needed to cut off her very long hair now, so that it wouldn’t become an infection risk as it fell out. I understand why she made this request (even though Sarah had wanted to hang on to her tresses as long as possible); Sarah has TONS of thick, long hair. Since she has a Central Broviac® Catheter, she cannot shower. She has to bathe piecemeal, you might say, and Shirleen (her Mother) and I have been washing her hair in the sink. Shirleen took to calling the extensive mass of sopping hair “the sweater.” I’d have to concur with that designation. Shorter hair is much easier to care for in this situation (and, not to put too fine a point on it, probably less traumatic to lose in chunks).
I had promised Sarah that when she had to cut her hair that I would cut the required ten inches off of mine to donate to Locks of Love. Sarah wanted to hold on to her big braid of hair (cutting out the “middle man,” you might say), and as she is her Mother’s daughter (Shirleen can make ANYTHING), she figures they can somehow integrate it into a hat or hairpiece of some variety.
Therefore, Saturday was salon day. Shirleen and my Mother and Sarah had pedicures (which I like to call “pedigrees,” for some reason – I did work in Genetic Research family studies for five years…). Sarah, Salon Queen du Jour, got to dictate the vivid purple nail polish.
Then we went for the dramatic SEVERING OF THE LOCKS. Lest you think I’m being ESPECIALLY over-dramatic, I should point out that Sarah has had long, long hair for years (and considered it her crowning glory). Add to that the trauma of the cancer and the treatment and you name it – this haircut was going to be a big deal. As for me, I haven’t had short hair since I was in grade school. (Okay – I know this process is NOT about me – but it is my blog, so I feel obliged to include some personal explanatory information.) This was a time in my life when Shirleen, with her long, blond mane was “pretty” and I, with my “rat’s nest” of short hair – that’s what a barber called it (and this was during my ultra shy period) – was “cute.” I, as children are wont to do, thought this meant that Shirleen was pretty and I was ugly. This upsets my Mother to this day, because she certainly didn’t MEAN it that way. But she does take SOME credit for the somewhat horrific incarnations that my hair went through when I was a child, since she cut it most of the time. She also tried to even out the wave/curl with perms (this never worked) and in most of my school pictures there are two plastic barrettes (bows, dogs, flowers – you name it) framing my face. As a matter of fact, she and I were talking about my scary hair and she pointed to a little framed trio of pictures – my sisters and I circa 1978 – and said, “And that was a GOOD hair day for you!”
I must also point out that my family found this very picture
of Ramona Quimby in one of those Scholastic book fliers and tormented me with the rather startling resemblance between the two of us. It’s rather astonishing that the original image still exists, tack holes, rips, tape and all. This is owing to my parents’ GIANT BULLETIN BOARD OF DOOM (but that’s definitely a story for another time). Oh, stupid childhood trauma. I won’t talk just now about the other equally tragic incarnations that my hair went through after I, admittedly a tad late in my life, achieved coiffure autonomy. Perhaps THAT’S a story for another time. Then again, it’s just hair (though MINE has tried, on more than one occasion, to KILL ME – this is the gods’ honest truth – the hair gods, I guess).
Here is the sweater – still damp, the twenty-five pound anaconda that they severed from Sarah’s head, and an “after” picture:
She, of course, instantly looked absolutely DARLING, though she suffered from frustrating light-headedness as a result of losing the “sweater.” Shirleen looks great, too.
She now has a mod “do” that is disconcertingly reminiscent of my Mom’s good sixties hair (believe me, there is a distinction to be made there). Then me – here’s before and the aftermath:
The stylist cut four ponytails off to get the optimum donation. Then she just went for it. She texturized, she made some of the ends “piecy,” she even used that instrument that has all the tiny razors in it. These are processes I have only experienced vicariously when watching Nick Arrojo. The result seemed to get high marks from others, but it is a little shocking to look in the mirror and see just a little bit of the “rat’s nest” child. Really, in the scheme of things, it IS JUST HAIR. And I looked in the mirror that night and sometimes thought, “That’s fun hair.” Then I would catch a glimpse at another moment and think, “OH MY HELL – IT’S HALEY MILLS IN THE PARENT TRAP!” Another glance, it would be fine. Then, “Blessed Saints of Tresses and All That is Holy, It’s THE OTHER HALEY MILLS FROM THE PARENT TRAP!” Truthfully, I’ve nothing about which to complain. It’s not as though I got my hair done in a cabin at summer camp by my newly-found twin using craft scissors; I received a very nice haircut. It’s the shock, perhaps, of having the little ringlets shorn from my neck with CLIPPERS (BAAAAAAAAAAAAH!).
ENOUGH! I’ll say it again – it’s just hair. HOWEVER, there will be a sequel to this entry that has to do with interesting experiments in hair colour (Sarah dictated purple highlights for ALL, for one thing). Mostly, I have to confess what happens when one decides that, though they have NEVER had their hair dyed and they have CERTAINLY never dyed it by THEMSELVES, that they should go solo with permanent hair colour in the middle of the night.
But seriously, I could and should just say over and over again, “Sarah, you ARE SuperGirl! I’m so proud of you!!!”