I think it takes a very special woman to lose all her hair and not show distress. Louise knew she was going to lose her hair, that fact had been firmly conveyed to her before she even started her chemotherapy treatment. We all wondered how she was going to cope with that as she had experienced alopecia before, in fact she got married wearing a jewel encrusted bandana, but that wasn’t because of chemotherapy it was not long after her second child was born, so hormones no doubt.
Now though, Louise had beautiful long, silky shiny locks. She knew what awaited her. We didn’t have to wait long to find out. After her second bout of chemotherapy, Louise decided that she wasn’t going to sit around waiting until her hair started to fall out in clumps; this was, after all, one thing that she could control.
I was more than a bit surprised when Louise organised her family to participate in removing her crowning glory, I thought she might have tried to hang on to her hair for as long as possible, or perhaps cut it short first, I was so wrong. Her husband and daughters all helped to cut her hair and shave her head. It was almost as if she was treating it as some kind of ritual, a rite of passage from her old self to her new one, maybe even a purification process.
I can honestly say that when I saw Louise standing in front of me with not one hair on her head I thought I had never seen anyone so beautiful. She reminded me of Sinead O’Connor singing Nothing Compares to U, you know the video which focused on Sinead’s face and culminated with a tear rolling down her cheek, I remember thinking at the time that Sinead was beautiful.
It was a bit like that looking at Louise that day. Her ivory, blemish-free complexion, her perfectly shaped head and features, and her large clear greenish blue eyes shining back at me reflecting her own inner sadness at the world, her cancer, and her changing self. I remember thinking how she looked so young, and like an angel, radiating a kind of divine beauty that isn’t often seen these days where the norm seems to be fake tan, mountains of make up and sculptured hair held in place with a can of hairspray.
I was speechless, words were not enough to convey how I felt, and eventually I muttered “You look amazing” and I really meant it, but I don’t think she believed me. In the following days, weeks and months, Louise astounded us all with the way she took everything in her stride.
I do remember a particularly poignant moment when she said “I can cope with losing my hair, I can cope with losing my breast. I can cope because I don’t want to lose my life”.Learn how I beat Depression