The classic “cancer head shaving scenes” in films are a cliché. The hero finally decides he will fight back and not allow the chemo to take his hair (cue the inspirational music). Everyone hugs, everyone cries, and everyone knows it will be a happy ending.
Please note: I don’t say this to diminish anyone else’s journey, and it would be lame of me not to mention that hair is a bigger deal for most women fighting cancer than men in today’s society.
My point of this post is actually quite different. Cancer is war. Cancer is a back-alley brawl until one side taps out. Rainbows, unicorns and group sing-alongs need not apply.
The war with cancer isn’t just a traditional, evenly matched, open-field struggle. Instead, we are are talking about an insurrection. What is happening inside my body is a coup, a biological uprising, a mutiny of the flesh.
The enemy cells move among my other cells silently, traveling between organs, establishing new fire bases as I write this. Cancer sleeps, it hides, and spreads as fast as it can.
The weapons at my own disposal are equally barbaric. Courses of radiation that tend to kill the good cells and cancer cells with equal vigor. Or the administration of finely-tuned cocktails of chemotherapy poisons that can be like carpet bombing a farmhouse to destroy an anthill inside it.
From what I’m told, winning a war is all about seizing initiative. So when I found myself passing my barber shop and thought about what the months ahead had in store for me, I decided to act. I got my head shaved.
I feel like a lean, mean, cancer-fighting weapon tonight. While I know that the doctors are saying the odds are against me, I am also acutely aware of the fact that sometimes, like the lyrics of one of my daughter’s first plays, The Secret Garden, “life will find a way.”