First, let me thank those who have responded to my last post and shared their concern about my mom. She is at home with my dad who cares for her. My sis and brothers are close and hospice visits twice a week at this point. Though my mom has not gained any weight or made any progress with cognition, she eats occasionally and seems generally content for which we are most grateful. And the family is at peace as we wait and watch and pray at this end-of-life vigil. Thanks to all who care and pray.
On a less somber note, I am happy to report that “the Blonde is back.” Yes, my hair has grown out enough for me to see my colorist a couple of weeks back and get rid of that nasty, nasty red color and bring back the blonde! Thankfully, she was able to bring in blonde highlights and to use a lighter brown color to help cover the rest of the red. When I looked in the mirror at her shop, I saw Cathie Young looking back at me for the first time in a long, long time. Praise the Lord and bang the tambourine!
I’ve blogged before that for a woman with cancer, the whole hair thing is such a big deal. Yes, it’s true – most of us would rather lose our breasts than our hair. Since February 2012, I’ve watched my head go from shaved to bald and to stay bald until about August of last year when a weird little crop of patchy dark grey “kitty fur” appeared. That “kitty fur” was just plain weird so Philip shaved it off in the garage one Saturday afternoon and a new growth of thin very dark brown hair began to sprout. By December my head was covered with this kind of sparse, very dark, very curly hair which was not at all like I’d had before.
By February’s surgery, even though my wig looked great, wearing it every day had become uncomfortable. With hair underneath, the wig shifted around and felt scratchy which it didn’t when I was bald. So my reconstruction surgery in February was the time to “come out” with my new, though albeit still unattractive hair. My attempt to have my hair colorist take my new crop of hair from dark, dark brown to a lighter, softer brown resulted in the disaster of my hair turning immediately and profoundly brilliant orange! My, that was lovely. (NOT!) Two dye jobs later, I had to live with auburn red hair for two-plus months until the blonde could be put back in. Not me — SO not me!
So here’s the deal: I’ve had several folks compliment me on my “courage” in the whole cancer storm. Friends, I have to be honest. There is only one time in the whole 18 month cancer journey when I’ve been courageous: and that was leaving my house with red hair! No kidding!
I am glad and grateful that the blonde is back. I’m still struggling with short, very curly hair. My “old hair” was straight, never curly. So, even though the blonde is back, I still don’t recognize my hair and am not quite sure what to do with it! But the good news is that at least I recognize myself when I look in the mirror and that is a very good thing.
Well, what’s the “gold in the road” in this hair saga?
- Well, first: cancer changes you — irrevocably changes you. I met with a brother-in-Christ last week who has gone through his own cancer journey. He’s on an anti-cancer drug now as am I and we laughed as we shared moments of opening the door for cool air and blotting our brow when having a hot flash and then closing the door quickly to prevent cold chills. Even though he’s a guy with one kind of cancer talking to a girl with another kind of cancer, it was kind of like holding up a mirror as we shared stories of how after cancer, you are never the same. It marks you both inside and out. It’s best to recognize and accept the changes, grieve the losses and move on as best you are able. My hair saga symbolizes that for me. Time to move on.
- Second, though cancer changes you, you are recognized and loved by God. Sometimes I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the new me. I see how cancer has aged me and I ache to go back to my younger pre-cancer self. But each day I remember that God sees me as I am and recognizes me — He knows Cathie and loves her through all the ages and stages of life. And I am especially blessed because I have a Prince Philip who echoes God love for me just as I am!
I realize that someday I will be old and have a face that looks as if it has never been young. My body will have aches and pains and limitations that aging brings. In some ways cancer has helped prepare me for those days yet to come. And I am glad I’ve learned that though changes will come, God’s love for me will never change. I may not recognize myself, but God always sees me, recognizes me, knows me, and loves me. And this “Blonde” is grateful for that fact!
If you want to take a peek at the Blonde teaching my latest Bible Study at St. James, log onto http://www.stjamesnb.org and click on “Online Resources”, then “Sermons/Media”. Launch Media Player and click on the video podcast of “30 Minutes with John.” My, my — we do have FUN at this class!
Love and blessings,
The Blonde (aka Rev. Cathie+)
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.