Now that my 8 rounds of “CHOP (*) therapy” are behind me, I am close to the two-month milestone of a chemo-free life and being almost medication-free. I would like to think that I am also “cancer free” but that will be my oncologist’s call. I am not holding my breath yet.
(*) Note: CHOP is an acronym for a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs made up of Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin (or Adriamycin), Vincristine (Oncovin) and Prednisolone.
In the meantime, I am starting to see some new hair growth. I must say that, out of the starting block, I pre-empted the transition to the messy process of gradual hair loss by submitting my dome to a radical deforestation. Indeed, while it may seem pretentious, I kind of fancy the Yul Brynner, Patrick Stuart or Bruce Willis look. Don’t women find them sexy? A few good things about going bald are not having “bad hair days”, that “bed hair” look, “tuque hair” in the winter, and saving a bundle on the cost of haircuts, shampoo and conditioner, not to mention styling gel. Unfortunately, all this comes at the cost of my head being more sensitive to drafts, cooler temperatures and, of course, pesky mosquitoes in the summer.
Unfortunately, after 2 months of being chemo-free, I only have a few sparse patches of black and white baby peach fuzz to show. The funny thing though, is that my beard is coming back with a vengeance; the only difference is that now it is snow white. A wise guy I know suggested that I let it grow out to a full beard and take on a part time job as Santa Claus with an authentic beard. I do not intend to quit my day job yet.
Well to have fun with this life of chemo-induced baldness and to avoid any UV exposure to my scalp, I started a collection of assorted “cranium covers”. This year, collecting various styles of headdress has become one of my new passions. Because I was rather bored with the classic baseball cap, I sought out diverse forms of head gear. These ranged from a straw hat, a black spandex biker-style bandana, a white tennis-style bandana with the required Nike logo, a 60s style blue bandana, a newage head wrap with a batik paisley motif and an assortment of Middle-East Kufi skull caps. My fall and winter collection includes a classic Basque French beret directly from Paris and a Mountie style fur hat custom made from my aunt’s old muskrat coat. I can just imagine her rolling over in her grave. Of course for bedtime, a traditional Quebecois tuque does the job. I am not quite ready to don a turban of fez yet; that would be too eccentric no? While I recognize that being diagnosed with cancer is life-changing event, I am not quite ready to go that far!
Reactions to my diverse head adornments have ranged from indifference, mild amusement, curious looks, and compliments from the staff at the chemo infusion center. On one occasio, I was completely ignored when I , wearing a kufi skull cap, addressed someone, to pay them a compliment them on their pair of road bikes. (I love bikes).
I am now toying with the idea of adopting the “el duomo” look. Apart from the practical aspects, it is also a reminder for me of my journey to “Cancerland”; lest I forget my voyage to “the undiscover’d country, from who’s boune no traveller returns”. In the end, it is my way of having fun and coping with all this. “Qui rit se guérit” — He who laugh heals himself.