Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wiggin' Out - A True Story

I promised I'd tell you about my wig adventure. Hey, that sounds like an episode for my supercancerwoman superhero series. "Adventures in Wig Shopping with Supercancerwoman; Hero in Training." Unfortunately, I don't feel like my adventure lived up to it's title.

First of all, I was feeling HORRIBLE come Friday. Paris picked me and my barf bowl up Friday at 10am. Wig shopping was the last thing I wanted to do. And Friday was the worst day for me all week. I was moving slow, talking slow and well, just plain miserable. And not because of the company (who do you know that ever feels anything but good around dear, sweet Paris?) We had it pictured in our heads that it would be fun and we'd get some good laughs, go out to coffee/tea and lunch and have just a fun girlfriends day trying on wigs and hats (is that the picture you had in your head too P?). Well, chemo day 5 post carbo-taxol was not kind to our young supercancerhero and she did not feel like coffee, tea, laughing or lunch. In fact, she had to summon all of her superhero strength to not share her lunch from the day before! And there's just something not fun about traveling with a barf bowl riding shotgun. Kinda kills the mood if you know what I mean.

The little wig boutique was charming enough. Full of cute hats and wigs all lined up on shelves on the wall, floor to ceiling. Actually, it was kind of weird sitting there with all of those eyes from the fake heads staring at you. The shop was decorated so stylish for Christmas. The receptionist was so sugary sweet. Couldn't figure out if she was wearing a wig or not. Not even sure she was real. But her hair was cute.

And so many hats. Cute trendy stylish hats. But they were all stuffed with tissue paper. And what is hat trying on etiquette anyways? Does the tissue paper mean they don't want you to try it on? Am I supposed to take it out? And having young kids, we're taught to NEVER share hats because of the lice emails and notes that always get sent home from school warning you of another case they discovered in the 3rd grade. Do I dare try on any hats? Who knows who tried them on before me. And were they bald at the time? Do bald people get lice? And who thinks this stuff anyways? Can I blame those thoughts on Chemo Brain too?

And all the heads on the wall were slim, skinny, perfect heads. I have a big fat head. The wig lady even said so. Not exactly in th0se exact words though. So all of the wigs looked good on them. Everything looks good on skinny, healthy people. And they all had names. "Jasmine", "Allison", "Jennifer". And I'm not talking about the heads. I'm talking about the hair itself. It was sort of like being in some sort of alternate dimension.

Listening to the ladies in there talk to their fake hair, referring to them by name and talking to them like they were living and breathing. Which we came to find out that they are not. They are synthetic. They don't "move". And once on my head, looked completely and utterly fake and unflattering and well, scary. For those of you who know Paris, know she would never say anything that might hurt your feelings. She would sugar coat something to make you feel like a million bucks, even if you didn't. In her eyes, you would look like a million bucks because she doesn't see whats on the surface, but whats inside. And that's what counts. But even Paris, couldn't muster up anything to sugar coat these! The best she could come up with is "I don't think that's the right color for you".

These were high quality, expensive wigs. And this boutique specializes in hair loss due to medical reasons. And my surgeon reccommended them warning me that it was pricey, but it was worth it in quality etc. I'm afraid to see what the wigs that are not so expensive look like on my big fat chemo swollen red puffy head. Because every wig I tried on looked like a dead animal on top of my head. A patch of lifeless, stiff, fake hair. She kept saying I had a full head of hair on underneath (it was in some tight stretch cap thing though) and that was making a difference. But she was wearing one too and she had a full head of hair and hers didn't look like mine.

I don't know maybe I'm not a hat/wig person. I must have the wrong shaped head or something. It looked like a patch of fake hair plopped on top of my head. I didn't even know what to say or do. I just looked in the mirror at Paris with a look that said "this is really as bad as i think it is, isn't it?" when had I been feeling better we would have been rolling on the floor laughing in hysterics and i'd be bringing the barf bowl with me for the after effects of laughing too long and hard. It was so eerie and unreal that time stood still. At least I felt like it did. I felt like I was in a bad dream, waiting for someone to pinch me awake so we could laugh about the funny dream I had. But this is real. This is my life. And it's not so funny. It's really sad. I can't wake up from it.

I expected the wigs to be expensive, and they were, $375. And did you know for $375 you get a synthetic wig that will melt when you open the oven door to get dinner out? You should have seen how big Paris' eyes got at that remark! I wished we had brought a camera and caught that one on tape! THAT was worth the whole trip right there! For those of you who don't know Paris, she is Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Julia Childs all rolled into one. Throw in some June Cleaver and Carol Brady and Paris is all that and more. (This is turning into my ode to Paris to thank her for being such a great friend and standing by me this whole time. I could never thank her enough, so I hope my words can make a little dent in letting her know I think the world of her and couldn't do this without her). The kitchen and cooking and baking is Paris' life. A day without the oven is like a day without air for her!

I had a vision after the comment about your bangs melting if you opened the oven door with it on. I could just see me racing around the kitchen like I always do, cooking 3 different meals at once because no one likes or eats the same things or at the same time and trying to keep everything going at the same time, without burning anything in the process after having just walked in from picking kids up at soccer, dance, gymnastics, basketball and violin lessons and it's almost 9pm! The dog is underfoot, the bird is airborn, the phone is ringing, someone's at the door, i'm trying to help my son with homework while yelling at my daughter to stop running around like a madwoman and teasing the dog! The sweet potato fries are burning because I forgot to set the timer, I throw open the door and reach in to pull them out, without thinking about the "synthetic" hair on my head. As I'm reaching into the oven with one hand to pull out the burning fries, I'm throwing the wig off and across the room with my other hand. The dog thinks it's a game of fetch. He grabs the wig and runs off all over the house like a rabid animal in what my kids call "rage mode", my kids are running after him and he thinks it's a game of keepaway. Meanwhile, I'm stuck with burnt sweet potato fries and a bald fat head. And what's worse, melted bangs or dog drool and teeth marks?

I'm thinking that maybe a synthetic wig, even in Lisa Rinna fashion just isn't for me and my lifestyle. So then the wig lady decides to bring out the big guns. The "human" hair wigs. They "move". You can open the oven door with them. They are all "hand sewn" each and every strand of them. You can add colored highlights and they are comfortable and look real. I try one on. Oh yes, this looks much better and it doesn't look so much like fake hair. This is more what I pictured in my mind. I could do this. I look at Paris for approval and I see some color come back into her face. Of course they are a bit more expensive. They (or do I call it a she?) are human hair afterall. And they (she?) don't melt. How much more expensive? $975?

To me, you might as well have said $1,000. Because it's the same thing to me. It's a lot of money to me. I never have that much money. And as soon as I get that much money, I have to pay bills that have been waiting for it. Or I need to get a new roof that's long overdue. Or paint our house that has LP siding and probably hasn't been painted since it was built in 1984. I can think of a lot of things to spend $1000 on besides real but fake hair on my head. I could put it towards a new car. We could use a newer car. I could hire someone to finally strip that wall paper in my room that has been half stripped for 8 years. I could get new carpet. A new dryer. Some new clothes that are comfortable and fit. I could take my family on a trip. I could buy a laptop to have for my long chemo days. I could hire a housekeeper to keep up with my housework. Even a nice big sparkly pair of diamond earings to draw attention away from my bald head.

I mean, $1,000, that's a lot of money. How could I EVER justify spending it on a wig? That just doesn't sit right with me. It feels irresponsible. Selfish. Vain. I mean, it's just hair right? I'm not the first or only person to go through chemo and lose their hair. It's not who I am or what I am. It doesn't change me. Only how some people will "perceive" me.

I no longer will be able to walk around as my alter ego, Shauna, pretending everything is fine and normal. I will look like a chemo/cancer patient and with that comes a lot. It's like coming out of the closet, or in this supercancerhero's case, the phone booth.

I'm not sure I'm prepared for that. Or for what my 8 year old daughter's reaction will be.

p.s. the photo is of me from Halloween - I'm bubble gum on the bottom of a shoe (stole this idea from my best friend, Joni from college!) It just seemed like an appropriate photo since I don't have any of me from my wig adventure. It was either bring the camera or the barf bowl. The barf bowl won out.


Paris said...

Oh wow... you had me in tears and laughing at the same time. You are such an incredible story teller, and so flattering towards me. How could I ever live up to all that??!! ;) I'm glad that I can be along for the ride, my friend. Wouldn't have it any other way... Love, p

sackss said...

1st of all--I've never thought of you as a fat-head. Red or otherwise. Many other adjectives come to mind but definitely not that. Secondly, with your sense of humor in the face of such challenge and your fabulous stream of consciousness writing style, I'm sure you could publish a book of these 'letters' and make a ton of money for new carpet, etc. I'd buy it. We're all behind you! I'm still praying.

Elizabeth Steiner Hayward said...

Golly, if half the people who actually get paid to write wrote half as well as you, it would actually be worth it to read the newspaper! Maybe you should cross the picket lines and sub in for those striking TV writers. Develop a whole new dramedy (isn't that what they're calling funny drama shows on tv now?) about supercancerwoman superhero. Would beat the heck out of just about anything on TV these days, that's for sure.

You're awesome, Shauna. No ifs, ands, or fat heads (hey, you looked at my face recently - once affectionately dubbed 'the mushroom' by a former hairdresser?) abbout it. You rock. We're all praying for you. My whole congregation asks about you all the time.

Shanna said...

OKay, okay... I will go ahead and pimp myself for your real hair money! Geez, the things we are pushed to do for friends, eh? Do be aware, it may take me a little while to earn the funds. You might actually have better luck selling Paris's "Better than Sex" cake at a bake sale!!! (P, you have a recipe for that, right?)

Hang in there, girl and keep on fighting. I know you are doing everything you can and I love you.

Now, where did I put those stillettos???


Loni said...

Shauna bo-bauna, even in the face of cancer you put a beautiful, funny story together. Wow, I miss you, but I know you have lovely friends right there giving you the hugs I can't! Save the wallpaper stripping and new paint for me, ok?

Love you.

Tina said...


You made an outing that could have been a disaster into a wonderful story of strength! Your ability to laugh in the face of such a challenge shows just how strong you are. I think you will look just as beautiful without a synthetic head of hair...wouldn't want to see you with melted bangs! You have so many gorgeous hats to wear now, and from the pics, I can tell that you wear them well!


Tammy said...

I just sent you money through Paypal via your verizon email. You should get an email from Paypal on how to join and get the money. Paypal is an easy and quick way to send money. It is for your wig fund or for whatever you choose to use it for.
Have a Merry Christmas.