March 9, 2015
My veins are filled, once a week with a Neapolitan carpet cleaner distilled from the Adriatic and I am as bald as an egg. However I still get around and am mean to cats.
~John Cheever, letter to Philip Roth, 10 May 1982, published in The Letters of John Cheever, 1989, concerning his cancer and its treatment
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, I have to say out of all of us, she took the news the best. While we sat and cried, she and my sister (who is also an amazing nurse) asked the necessary questions one would about what to expect in the next few months and of course what can my mother do to beat this miserable burden on her health. She was told that her cancer was inoperable, so the best solution was heavy doses of radiation and chemotherapy.
My mom handled chemotherapy and radiation like the champ she is! The chemo began to settle into her body and slowly poison her cells and the radiation cooked her from within. She was sick a lot, lost a lot of weight but what seemed to be the most challenging for her to deal with was losing her hair. At first, it was just little pieces at a time but then masses of blondish clumps began to fall out and she would cry. She thought she looked repulsive. She didn’t see herself in the mirror. Instead of seeing her reflection, she saw a sick person and someone who was suffering from cancer. I understand now why she felt that way even though I couldn’t see this hideously frail creature she saw. To me, my mom was always gorgeous. She has sparkling blue eyes, a beautiful smile, small body-frame from conscience eating habits, and is probably the classiest and most fashionable woman I have ever met… Which is hilarious that she produced me! I have her smile and I have her eyes, but it is a long running joke in my family that I am like school in the summer time-NO CLASS!
After my mom had her head shaved, she decided that although she may have to live with this disease, she does not have to let it affect her fashion sense! I seriously am not exaggerating when I say that the woman went out and bought 25 do-rags (bandanas) to match every one of her outfits. I don’t know where she found all of the colors she did. I mean I’m sure you can go to some sort of website like: dorags.com, or everycolordoragyoucanpossibleimagine.org, but my mom is a Baby Boomer. She did not come from a time where you shop online. She referred to the internet as the “Webernet,” until a few years ago. She went to every TJ Max, Marshalls, outlet store, and beauty supply store in the Chicagoland area scouring for bright, colorful do-rags to match with every dress, jacket, blazer, shirt, skirt, slacks, leggings, sandal, and shoe. She would lay out her outfits on her bed (much like an excited teenage girl), and ask my dad, sisters, or I which do rag looked the best with what she was wearing. Sometimes, it would be the outfit that was changed in order to go with the do-rag she wanted to wear. It was nice to see my mom make one hell of a batch of lemonade with the lemons she was given. She always knew how to make a terrible situation seem not so terrible. Eventually, her hair began to grow back and she donned probably one of the cutest pixie haircuts I have ever seen. People who didn’t even know her would come up to her and ask where she got her haircut because that was the cutest style they have ever seen. She finally began to realize that she was still in fact just as beautiful and she always was. My mom, the trendsetter!