Other than my trips to see doctors, surgeons and therapists, I have not left my house in 5 weeks. That’s a long time to be “out of touch” with the real world. Today I made an appointment to get my hair cut. I was driven to my hairdresser, as I still can’t drive. The trip in the car felt like a holiday road trip. I was like a wide eyed kid taking in the scenery. Even though I’d done this drive a thousand times, things seemed somehow different. Roads felt busier, the buildings looked bigger, the noise registered louder and the colours seemed brighter. For the last five weeks I have become accustomed to a much slower pace. I’d forgotten what it was like battling morning rush hour to get anywhere. I’d lost the rhythm of city and was feeling out of step.
I was dropped off across the street from the salon at a busy corner. There were people crossing the road on each side and cars stopping at the four-way. I got to the corner to cross and all of a sudden I felt very exposed. This was the first time I had been in “public” since my surgery. I was carrying my trusty chest pillow so I already knew that I looked out of place but it was more than that. Could people tell by just looking at me what I had been through? How misshapen was my body? Could they see how awkward I felt? Do I pull the pillow up over my chest to hide the fact of have no breasts or would that only cause more stares and attention. I wanted the sidewalk to open up and swallow me.
I sped up my pace…which is not fast even when I try, so I could get into the salon and out of the public eye. I walked in and felt my anxiety dissipate immediately. I was the first appointment so there was no one in the salon but my hairdresser and her boss. They both knew about my surgery…of course, we girls tell our hairdressers EVERYTHING! It was great to see her. She had done my hair the day before my surgery and witnessed first hand how anxious I had been. I sat in her chair and felt myself settle into the familiar. We talked with ease. We shared stories and caught up with what had been happening since we saw each other last. It felt good to be doing something “normal”. Yes we talked about my “condition” but we talked about a lot of other things that had nothing to do with cancer or surgery or doctors or anything out of the ordinary. Other clients started to arrive but I was covered by the cape and therefore looked no different than anyone else. My secret was safe.
I have been able to wash my own hair for the last two weeks but it is a struggle. Lifting my arms up still hurts a lot. So today’s treatment was wonderful. To have someone wash your hair and massage your head feels soooooo good. You can’t achieve that feeling yourself even when you have full use of your arms. It was very relaxing and felt incredible. If I smoked I would have had a cigarette, it felt that good!
Feeling normal. Feeling confident. Feeling good about oneself, are things we all strive for. Before my surgery, these were things that for the most part I felt. Yes, everyone has a bad hair day, an off day where they feel less “put together” but on a whole I can say that I was comfortable in my own skin. Now…not so much. I feel very shy about my appearance and reluctant to expose myself to the outside world. I don’t know how long it will take me to get over this feeling or if I ever will; but today’s outing was my first foray into public life post surgery. I don’t have the same confidence. I don’t feel self assured but I do feel blessed that I am no longer confined to my house. I may not feel comfortable or confident in how I look at present but today I can say that this is the best I’ve looked in five weeks cause today … I’m having a really good hair day!
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.