A while ago I was waiting for a routine doctor’s appointment. The waiting room was filled with mostly older people and while it is usually a quiet place; on this day it was anything but. One woman had two small children running wild and making quite a mess out of everything they touched. There was a little Christmas tree in the corner which they almost knocked over several times. They threw magazines around, bumped into people with wheel chairs and were generally a pain in the neck for everyone but their oblivious Mother. At one point someone complained to the receptionist who stated that she couldn’t leave her station and wouldn’t do anything about the chaos.
I noticed a very quiet lady sitting in a corner of the room wearing a head scarf and a coat. Considering that it was quite warm in the room I wondered why she was so warmly dressed. She looked distraught and sad and I felt sorry for her. No one was there to sit with her and that made it seem worse. Suddenly, the two wild kids sensed that she would be an easy target and began to run over and bump into her chair. They began to pull on her coat and yell right near her face yet she said nothing. About that time I personally had had enough of the two holy terrors and got up to go tell them to leave the lady alone. As I approached the woman sitting alone and looking distraught one of the children yanked off her scarf and she began to cry.
Sounds dramatic but there was a reason for her tears. She was completely bald. She had so carefully covered herself up in a warm room to prevent people from seeing what she was hiding and it devastated her when her bald head was uncovered. I was appalled and I told the two kids to get away from her. I got a dirty look from their Mother but I didn’t care. At that point another woman came over to help comfort this poor lady and to retrieve her fallen scarf. She looked up at us through her tears and her gaunt face and thanked us. We asked if she was alright and she lowered her head and cried again.
After a few minutes, after we helped her cover her head she began to tell us why she was bald. She was going through her third course of Chemo Therapy for Breast Cancer which had returned for the second time in two years. She lived alone and had no one to help her and she proceeded to tell us her story. The first time she was diagnosed she was in total shock because she had been so healthy all of her life and it took her by surprise that she had such a devastating disease. She was a widow who had just begun to venture out in the world after grieving her late husband for over two years and her pride and joy had been her long, shiny, beautiful hair. Her words were, “I was never the pretty one in my family but I had the prettiest hair.” As she began to adjust to being a widow without a man in her life she noticed that the men who approached her at dances and other community activities always complimented her on her hair. It made her feel good and gave her hope.
Then, the cancer struck and she eventually lost all of her pride and joy…her beautiful head of hair. She was too weak and sick to go out and buy a wig and besides, she told us that she thought that people wearing wigs were always obvious and she didn’t want to look fake or odd. When her first bout with cancer and chemo were over and she was declared “in remission” she watched as her hair slowly regrew and she had hope for her future.
Sadly, that didn’t last long and she found herself once again riddled with cancer and bald from her treatments. She was a woman with no hope, no life and no hair which was so very important to her. In her words, “My best feature was gone and all I want to do is hide.”.
The other women who came to comfort and assist her put her arms around this sad, frail little lady and began to tell her that she had many options and didn’t have to settle for being bald or waiting for the hair to grow in again. She suggested several different options like low level laser light hair therapy, scalp treatments, all sorts of non-surgical methods for hair replacement and as she spoke I could see the woman’s face lighting up with hope. I was curious as to how this other woman knew so much about all of these hair replacement options and she said that she herself had recovered from cancer and hair loss and had found a place where there were experts in hair loss and hair regrowth and how it had changed her life.
In that crowded waiting room with it’s sad little Christmas Tree and the little lady with the bald head a wonderful holiday gift was given. I saw the signs of hope light up her face and the thought that she could once again feel proud of her hair and how she looked take shape in her mind. So many people consider hair restoration a need brought on by vanity or wanting to look younger…and although those are valid reasons, what could be more important or necessary than restoring someone’s pride and self esteem due to an illness that they had never expected?
Happy holidays to all!