Bald Chicks Rule
… but having hair is nice, too.
by Mary Beth Hall
My new counseling job at the high school started in late July, just a few months after my breast cancer diagnosis. I could hardly keep my head up because of the radiation treatments, and I hadn’t even started working yet. I didn’t know how I was going to start a new job in this shape.
I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t say to my new employer and co-workers, “Hey, thanks for hiring me. Some day in the future I will do a really good job here, and oh, did I mention I’m not at my best right now so I need to start later and let everyone do my portion of the work until I get back on my feet, whenever that might happen to be?”
The first day of school for the students was going to start very soon. I was left with a dilemma – to wear or not to wear a hat. These 1,140 students didn’t know me. They had never seen me before. How would they react to a completely bald new counselor? Would they make fun of me? I didn’t think my carefully constructed armor could withstand teenagers making fun of me. My husband said to go to work and just be myself (as if that has ever worked for me). I decided Curtis is much wiser than me, so I prayed, took many deep breaths, and went to school … without a hat.
The kids were perfect. I stood in the hallways during class changes and joked with them. I clowned around and got to know them. They got to know me. Not one negative word was said about my baldness. They loved my “Bald Chicks Rule” button. They were the most polite students I had ever worked with. Many students confided to me later that they thought I had shaved my head on purpose. They thought it was cool and matched my personality (or lack of personality).
Each morning, I put my bald on. This was an attitude I made sure was in place before walking out my door. I believed if I exuded confidence others would fall for it.
I was right where I belonged. I immediately fell in love with everyone there.
I loved this new job. I constantly need new challenges, and the fast-paced days met my need for learning new things and being pushed. I went everywhere bald, armed with my “Bald Chicks Rule” button. Each morning, I put my bald on. This was an attitude I made sure was in place before walking out my door. I believed if I exuded confidence others would fall for it. It worked. I acted like I didn’t care I was bald. I acted like I was as cute as Curtis was telling me each day. It wasn’t my fault I was bald, so I just went with it. I would not have chosen baldness, but since nobody asked me my preference and my hair fell out, I was going to make the best of it.
I am glad I did. I showed my boys what inner strength is. I showed them how to laugh when life gets hard. I showed them how to rely on God always. My new mantra for the boys changed from It doesn’t matter how you play the game, but how your hair looks while you’re playing to what matters is how your hair is going to look during the game when it grows back in.
My hair started growing back in November. It started out as soft and fuzzy as a newborn baby, which by the way, looks great on babies but not so much on an adult. I had lost every hair on my body. I had not shaved my legs or shampooed my scalp in four months. Suddenly there was hair on my legs. I lost the peach fuzz on my head and real hair started coming in. My eyelashes started growing. My eyebrows, which I had been assured by my oncologist would not fall out but did except for maybe three hairs on each brow, began to thicken.
The only problem was it wasn’t my hair growing back on my head. It was someone else’s. It was in tight curls. Me, the owner of the hair that a professional declared “lacked the ability to bend” was growing tight ringlets! I get lots of compliments on my short, curly hair, but I cannot figure out if they are sincere compliments or if everyone is just so glad I have any kind of hair they think anything looks good.
It doesn’t matter. I have hair, and it does not even need product!
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Mary Beth Hall is a breast cancer survivor, wife, mother of two, educator, and author who lives in northern Kentucky.
Excerpted with permission from Lessons from a Bald Chick by Mary Beth Hall, copyright © 2009, published by BookLocker.
This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2010.