My girlfriends and I made the people at Aqua Net rich and definitely contributed to the hole in the ozone layer with our hair in the 80s. It couldn’t be high enough or long enough.  A match anywhere in the vicinity was a very dangerous thing.

My hair was dark, long and wavy. If you had asked me back then I definitely would have said it was one of my best features. Hair for women is a very powerful thing.  Since ancient times, a woman’s hair has been a symbol of mystery, strength and power. In Corinthians it says “A woman’s hair is her glory.” Think about any fairy tale, any princess, any female character from Greek Mythology. You would be hard pressed to find one that was without long, flowing hair.

When I was first told I had to have chemotherapy, I went to my girlfriend, Angie’s, house and cried and screamed and railed against the world. I was not thinking about how nauseous I would be, how my joints would ache and how I would get sores in my mouth. I didn’t care that I had been told that I would have a metallic taste in my mouth for months or even that there could be damage done to my heart. What I was simply terrified about was losing my hair.

I couldn’t imagine it. I had already had my cancer surgeries so, you would think that I had lost the most important piece of my femininity but, you would be wrong. It was worse to lose my hair.

Knowing it was coming, I had my hair cut from my mid back to my shoulders. I thought, somehow, that this would make it easier once my hair started falling out. Let me assure you now, there is no preparation for a woman becoming bald.

About three days after my first treatment, my scalp was painful and sore. Another one of breast cancer’s little kicks. No one had warned me that it would actually hurt.

But, it did. I would brush my hair and actually hear a little sound, like a “pop” as the hair pulled out of my head at the root. I know some women choose to just have thin hair until it falls out completely. Not me. On the very day it began falling out, I had Al shave it off. It was another instance of me wanting some control over this thing. I would be bald but, it would be on my terms.

I didn’t even cry then. I had bought my wig in advance so, I just put it on and went about my business. I wouldn’t, however, look at myself, bald, in the mirror. I would put the wig on and then turn to the mirror to fix it. At night, I would pull the wig off and put a cap on in it’s place.

I was in denial. I tried to pretend that I wasn’t bald. I tried to ignore that it was happening. It was too much to lose. A devastating loss. I have to admit that I definitely felt like less of a woman. I was sad, vulnerable and pissed off.

That is until one day when I was on the phone with a girlfriend. My scalp was itchy.  Al was out with the kids. I pulled the wig off. We talked for another hour or so and, forgetting myself, I turned and faced the mirror behind me. I was shocked to see the image of me, bald as a cue ball. But, something inside me clicked. I had talked to my girlfriend for over an hour and the entire time, I had felt like myself. Like Nicole. Exactly the same as I had felt before my hair fell out.

It was a very powerful moment. It was the moment that I truly realized that it doesn’t matter what physical thing is taken away from me, I am still me.

My soul is the same. No matter how hard it tried, cancer couldn’t steal that from me.