Yesterday morning, I took a shower and rubbed my hands through my head. As I pulled my hands forward, my palms were covered in strands and globs of hair. I took a couple deep breaths and knew that the time has come to shave my head. Losing your hair is one of the strangest experiences; however, as I sat in the shower with loose hair strands all over my body, I escaped the entanglement by challenging myself to this question – Why am I a woman? Am I a woman because of my hair, my breasts, or any other part of my body?
Being a woman is much deeper than any physical manifestation. The strongest women I know don’t need to say or do anything to display who they are. They just are. As my hair lay stranded all around me in the shower, I smiled because cancer is giving me an opportunity to redefine what being a woman means. I am a woman because of my eyes, my smile, my education, my experience, my laughter, my heart, my soul … and no physical change of appearance could ever take these attributes away from me! The temporary changes that I am undergoing through chemotherapy are just that: temporary. Perhaps others who have gone through these changes grieve because they’ve associated so much of who they are with what they look like, and when the uncontrollable strikes, you have to face yourself. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and see everything you are and everything you are not. As I am stripped to the very core, I’ve never felt more whole and although this reflection takes a moment to get used to, I feel like I’m seeing myself for the first time, and I love her.