A hat

Before you read my post about the hat you see below in the picture of me, I wanted to introduce myself as one of the new Mom writers here at Mothers With Cancer. I have a history of breast cancer in my family, including my own mother who was a thirteen year survivor of the disease, so I wasn’t all that surprised when I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in September of this year. I’ve had two surgeries and have a stage 2 breast cancer with 1 lymph node involved. I will be beginning chemo (AC/T) after Thanksgiving. I’ve been blogging for years, most recently writing book reviews at my blog Stephanie’s Written Word. I have two daughter’s (a biological 6 year old and a 2 year old adopted from China). Thanks for having me!  – Stephanie

 

hat 004OK, I’m not what you would call a “hat” person. Unlike those svelte models sporting cute winter hats on the pages of an L.L. Bean catalog, hats tend to make me look strange. I just can’t seem to pull off the look. And yet, I spent the bulk of my weekend knitting up myself a couple of hats.

When I first found out that I had breast cancer, I told my husband that if I lost my hair I would NOT be wearing a wig. It kind of flew out of my mouth without much thought behind it. Over the last few weeks I’ve had the time, mostly while knitting, to think about why I felt so adamant about not wearing a wig. When faced with a disease that can change the way we physically look, I understand why many people opt to wear a wig. My Mom, when she was diagnosed thirteen years ago with breast cancer, purchased a wig even before losing her hair. I remember that she wore her wig most of the time and I think it gave her a sense of normalcy that she needed. But there was another reason she wore that wig. My Mom was very secretive about her disease and didn’t let many people know about her cancer. I suppose breast cancer wasn’t as prevalent in the news as it is in 2008 and maybe she was afraid of the social stigma of having cancer. This always makes me a little sad, since I really didn’t understand at the time why it was such a big secret.

Even though I don’t usually like to be the center of attention, I am also not embarrased by the fact that I have breast cancer. I don’t want it to be a secret. I want other women to know that a routine mammogram has saved my life. I am not afraid of my disease and even though I probably won’t really like the way I look when I put on my home-made knitted hat in the morning, at least I’ll be being true to myself. This is why I won’t be wearing a wig if I have chemothereapy. If you’ve been through this before, what made you decide whether or not to wear a wig?

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8 Responses to A hat

  1. lisa says:

    Stephanie

    I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I was diagnosed in June and have just (as of 11/21) finished my chemo (AC/T and then Abraxane). I chose to wear a wig. Like your mom, I have told almost no one about my diagnosis. Really the only folks who know are my running partners as I do not wear my wig to run. I chose to keep it secretive because I wanted to be the person I always was. I did not want to appear needy or not be the person people could count on. I have been extremely lucky and have had almost no side effects from chemo. I have managed to keep our regular routines and schedules. I am a stay at home mom of two boys ages 9 and 6. I think I also wanted my boys to never worry about my being”sick”. I felt that if I looked the same they would not be so focused on the cancer. I am fortunate that my tumor was very small, 1 cm and that my cancer is very treatable. Also I look horrible in hats!

    I wish you the very best in your journey.

    Happy holidays

    Lisa

  2. Laurie says:

    Welcome Stephanie!

    The people in my circle who’d had cancer before me had bought wigs and really never worn them – they were just too hot and itchy. I decided not to bother. I googled “chemo” and “scarves” and ordered some lovely headwear. I bought two gorgeous hats for dressing up but my very favourite topper was The Buff (http://www.buff.es/en/catalog_headwear.php?t=1). It’s the very same article of clothing that the girls where as tops on survivor, although mine was exactly the right size for my noggin. Stayed in place and looked alright.
    And, after one particular warm evening out with friends (thank you chemo-pause), I tore my scarf off my head. After that, I spent a lot of time with my bald head exposed (unless I was cold or in the bright sun).

    Good luck to you – and I think you look great in that hat!

  3. justenjoyhim says:

    I actually bought a wig. It was cute. Most people liked it. I even liked it, but I only wore it a handful of times.

    The thing is, I felt like it was me staring out from the mirror with someone else’s hair, which I guess was the truth. It’s a personal decision; I truly believe that, and I respect whatever each woman decides, but for me, I felt false. So I wore hats and these incredibly expensive scarves that I bought online at a site called The BeauBeau:
    http://www.4women.com/

    I loved the hats and scarves and they really suited me. My co-workers joked that I had a different one for each color outfit that I had — not quite, but I did get into buying hats and scarves and found out which ones looked good on me. I wear (some) hats very well and the scarves are great. I got a few of those as presents which was wonderful.

    Soooo, that was my reason for not wearing a wig.

    It’s all so individual, like I said. One of my co-workers has breast cancer now, unfortunately, and she’s wearing a wig, and looks great in it. It’s what she’s comfortable doing.

    ~ Judy

  4. francesbarrie says:

    I did buy a wig because insurance supposedly was going to pay for it (turned out they didn’t). Anyway I bought a long Hanna-Montanna wig that I literally wore twice. The last time I wore it I was so self-conscious that I asked my 14 year old son how my hair looked. He proceeded to put his hands on my head and move my hair! We were in a crowd in downtown Boston at the circus of about 200 people! I was mortified and never wore the stupid thing again.

    I am a stay-at-home mom so I mostly wore doo-rags and baseball hats, but maybe if I had a full time job I would have worn a wig. You are smart not to waste your money. My kids loved my bald head and got a great kick out of rubbing my head…and then watching my hair grow back.

    Wear your baldness proudly! It really does go by very quickly.

  5. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    I had free wigs from the American Cancer Society and some fun ones from my aunt and cousins. I actually wore the blue one the most. I very rarely wore a wig and when I did I always had a bandana in my purse because they were just too darn uncomfortable. It was fun to try on different personas with them, but I was mostly a pirate mommy for the duration of my baldness.

    That said, I sometimes felt like my baldness was also a wordless explanation. When I had the chemo “badge” on, I didn’t have to explain to people why I was tired, why I couldn’t remember what I was going to get at the grocery store, why my child was rearranging all the fruit…

  6. I guess I did a little of everything. I was working at the time – I bought 2 wigs and my insurance did reimburse for $500.00. I had a brown one and a blonde bob. ( I have to say that most men told me to get a red one). I also wore do rags with a hat to swim meets and the beach. My son was very freaked out by my baldness – he was 6 at the time. Sometimes I would find people staring at me when I had the blonde wig on and I would feel self – conscious, they would then come up to me and tell me that I had the most beautiful hair!!! I would always have to decide if I just wanted to say thank you or let them in on my secret. It was also fun to wear the brown one to my son’s school one day and the blonde the next. Some of the more alert kids would stare at me and one said “you must spend alot of money always dying your hair!!!”

    I am so happy that my hair is back – but there is something to be said for just throwing on the wig or do rag or hat and going. I am back to the blowdrying thing again. again!!!

  7. I keep meaning to post about this subject.

    In my circles, many women wear wigs normally, for religious reasons (most religious Jewish women cover their hair in one way or another).

    So, for me, putting on a wig means putting on a new personal in more ways than one.

    I also cover my hair in public, but usually with scarves, and sometimes with hats. You can see my hair underneath, but if I lost it, many people would not necessarily notice.

    So, now that I am facing the possibility of losing my hair, this issue has raised its head again, and I do not know what to do…..

    I don’t like the idea of wearing a wig, both because it seems “fake” and because I not the “type” of person who wears wigs (as opposed to hats/scarves). It’s hard to explain, but hair covering in my circles says a lot about who you are and what you believe.

  8. Linsey says:

    Welcome Stephanie!

    I wore a wig only to go to work. At the time of my treatment, I was working in the office only 1 day. I worked in San Francisco – downtown. I was 28 years old. I was supposed to be having the time of my life. I wanted that one day a week to feel normal. I guess my “wig day” was a way for me to dive into work, my social life and to just forget about cancer for a day. Well, try to forget – not really possible, but it did help. A few people in my office had no idea I was in treatment, probably due to the wig. I was not secretive about it, but I also didn’t broadcast it to people I didn’t know well in the office. I remember one day one of these people who didn’t know I was a cancer patient told me she liked my haircut. I told her it was a wig and that I was in chemo treatment. She was shocked and really embarrassed. I felt bad, actually. Maybe I was too brutally honest and blatant about it.

    The rest of the time, I wore hats or nothing at all. I had a good bald head. It got cold. I hated it sometimes.

    Oh! I remember one more instance in which I wore a wig – I had a great purple bob one that I wore in the bedroom! So you might want to pick up a fun one!

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