Haircuts and Anniversaries

I have a haircut coming up with Bledi-with-Scizzors. Bledi has been my hairstylist for at least fourteen years now, which is ridiculous. By now he owns the salon, and I’ve had three jobs since we met at Starbucks. Also by now we’re comfortable enough with each other that sometimes he will tell me what he thinks I should have done to my hair, and I will tell him I don’t care what he thinks or if it’s stylish, I just want long hair. But sometimes I get bored with the long hair (recently, I just haven’t had the patience to dry it–or the time, because we moved and my commute in the morning is 15 minutes longer). And so, when contemplating my upcoming haircut, I thought, “I think it’s time to get my occasional bob.”

Also because it’s October. If I ever get a bob haircut, it’s in October. There are two reasons for this: 1) By October it’s cold enough here I don’t feel the need to pull my hair off my neck in a ponytail; while I like to braid my hair in the summer. 2) October (appropriately, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had my hair cut in a bob to take an incremental psychological step toward readiness for shaving my head for chemo. Then I didn’t end up needing chemo, but sometimes I still get my hair lopped off in October.

2008 cancer haircut

I was thinking about this the other week, which is why I suddenly remembered that today is the tenth–tenth–anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I don’t often talk about my cancer because honestly, most of the time I feel like a “fake” cancer survivor, since, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really that bad for me. I had surgery and radiation, but no chemo. I had to take a hormone suppressant which gave me migraines with which I still struggle. I went back and read the relevant blogposts from my Original Blog and discovered that at the time, I really was pretty freaked out and it was a tough process emotionally–but it also was a pretty quick one, relatively speaking, and I had some amazing support around me.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who’s still trying to recover after a year of harrowing treatment, and another friend who has had cancers of various types at least 11 times. (I’ve probably lost count, I’m ashamed to say. It may have been more, at this point–but I hope not.) Also another friend was diagnosed within the last year; her diagnosis sounded really similar to mine, but she does need chemo, and she has a husband and two little boys and the chemo is doing a number on her. Stories like these brave women’s make me sad, and also make me uncomfortable about publicly celebrating the fact that I have basically been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and officially so for five years now.

On the other hand–I’ve been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and that’s ten years. And while I don’t understand why the above, and other, friends of mine haven’t gotten through their diagnoses as easily as I was able to get through mine, and while it would be ungracious of me (particularly since I had nothing to do with it) to brag about it, it would also be ungrateful of me not to note and celebrate it. I don’t take my cancer-freedom for granted. I know I could get it again. But I haven’t yet, and I’m deeply thankful. And so, in honor of my diagnosis and celebration of my current freedom from it, I’ll be pampering myself next Friday–and getting a haircut.


10 thoughts on “Haircuts and Anniversaries

  1. As I count one year tomorrow since my ‘cutting it out’, I give a shout of praise for your ten years. May the count increase year by year, and Jesus be proclaimed in your life day by day. 💜

  2. It’s wonderful that your process was relatively quick, Jenn, and I don’t think that makes you any less of a real cancer survivor. Chemo or no chemo, it must have been absolutely terrifying. Ten years is a great milestone, and sounds like a good reason to give yourself that haircut!

      • That’s good to know, Jenn! I still have you in my RSS feed too, although I also don’t check it as often as I used to. Life feels busy, and the amount of things I am subscribed to on the internet feels overwhelming. I read more than I comment, though, so do know that I am out there somewhere, reading sporadically but appreciating it when I do 🙂

  3. Bless you. Ten years is a milestone. My mom is cancer-free for a few decades and lost her hair during treatment after her second surgery. Praying for you and congratulations on your anniversary.

    • Thank you! So nice to have you here. I’m happy to meet you. Also, my hair now looks a little like your avatar’s, so I feel super hip. 🙂

      I’m so glad your mom is cancer free now. Blessings to you and her, too.

      • Thanks, Jenn. I went looking on WordPress for a blog where I can post about a too-short haircut that’s starting to look decent after seven weeks . . . and I found your blog and read several posts last night. Glad you’re happy with your hair. 🙂 I’m humbled. Janie

        • Haha–we purchased my parents’ house this summer and I discovered some photos of myself (prior to the cancer diagnosis) with definitely a too-short haircut! It’s a thing, cancer or not. Thanks for reading the stories!

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