Hanging on to Fitness and a Few Strands of Hair Through Breast Cancer Treatment

I am a Medical Oncologist, a wife, a mother of 4, runner of 12 marathons training to run my 13th with a goal to qualify for Boston when the diagnosis of breast cancer caused a significant detour in my well-planned life. When I asked for guidance on how to continue to stay fit while receiving treatment, I received blank stares and found little data. While I never intended to be in this experiment, I find myself now generating my own data about fitness through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. I am writing this in hopes to help others who find themselves in this same situation.


The Big Haircut

Yesterday was a big day. The big haircut day. It was the thing that I have been dreading since probably as long ago as the time when I suspected that I might have breast cancer. Funny that of all the things that are a consequence of having breast cancer, hair loss is really the most superficial and in reality should not deserve the mind space that it has occupied for me for this long. This does not impact on how my heart functions. This will not change my ability to move my legs. But the reality is that our hair is a huge part of how others perceive us and I realized that this was really the thing that was bothering me. Yea, I was worried that bald might not be a good look for me, but the reality was that I was worried about the thoughts that others would have about me when they saw he me without hair. And let's face it, the reason I worried about what others might think about me when they see me without hair is because of the thoughts I have had when I have seen women without hair. It is such a loud announcement without words that you are going through something big. It could be a major mid-life crisis, but most likely it is a major health crisis. As much as I wanted to hang onto this hair for dear life as long as possible, the thought of waiting for this long hair to fall out in big clumps seemed like a horrible alternative. I also found out about an organization that takes hair donations of any kind, even my hair that has some artificial color and natural grey as long as it is at least 8 inches, and they make wigs which they donate to kids in need, so I wanted to maximize my contribution by getting it cut before it fell out (childrenwithhairloss.us) Fortunately, my dear hairdresser, Lynn was able to come in on her day off to get this job done. And my sweet daughters came along and helped. The three of them turned this whole process into something kind of fun instead of the sad, dreadful experience I had visualized in my head before this happened. I had anticipated that Lynn would shave it all completely off, but she insisted that it would be fun to have an actual very short sassy style instead. Although I will only get to enjoy this new sassy style for about a week before will fall out, I am grateful to have this for now. I also got a great wig that Lynn cut to match the style that I have been more accustomed to for the majority of my life and I am incredibly grateful to have that option as well.

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