Marissa is a forty-something Flattie in sunny SoCal living with metastatic breast cancer, her boyfriend (and high school sweetheart) and her not so mini schnauzer, Heidi. She enjoys reading, stress baking and roller skating. She hopes to inspire others with her dry humor and zest for life.
Looking back at my journey with wigs, or "the girls", during my early treatment for cancer.
I call them “the girls.” I have at least a dozen of them in a variety of shades and styles. I have never been a hat person and I would much rather wear a scarf around my neck than on my head. So, it became an obvious choice to wear wigs when I lost my hair. At first, I wanted something that was similar to my natural hair, so I chose a brunette in a bobbed style, but it was a buy one get one-off deal, so I ended up with a medium length brunette too. And then I just happened to have an old blonde girl taking up space in my closet, so my hairdresser trimmed her up and gave her a new style.
Then someone gifted me a redheaded girl. She was a sassy one. And then one day “Janet” (this wig came with a name) was winking at me from one of those kiosks in the mall. She had to join the girls too. And then there was this estate sale. There was an entire room in this house full of wigs. I’m not kidding. Hundreds of them. I have no idea what the story behind the estate sale was, but I happened to go on the last day of the sale when they were practically paying the shoppers to take things home. I ended up walking out with several more girls to add to my ever-growing collection. At this rate I was going to need a room for my wigs too.
As hot, itchy and uncomfortable as wigs are to wear, I always felt more “normal” wearing them. Bald just didn’t do it for me. Some women look amazing bald wearing a pair of big earrings or head wraps, but it was not me. I’ve been a quiet person my entire life, not liking extra attention drawn to me. There were some instances when the wigs would draw unwanted attention.
For example, the time when a woman I knew, but obviously didn’t know well, kept coming closer and closer, almost inspecting my “hair” until I finally blurted out, “Yes, it’s a wig. I have cancer.” I couldn’t help it. It just came out of my mouth at that moment. She backed off without having any response at all. I think it startled her as much as it did me.
For the most part, wigs allowed me to go about my life without anyone taking another look or without me having to explain my situation over and over. Yes, I have cancer. No, there is no cure. Yes, I’m metastatic... Although I did have a few people ask me who my hairstylist was, now that’s a compliment in and of itself.
I also got to the point of wearing wigs to match my look for the day. I became a mood wig wearer if there is such a thing. I realize some people don’t understand. They’ll tell you, “It’s just hair, it’ll grow back.” Have you ever had that horrible haircut? The one that makes you just want to hide. That’s how I felt bald. I just wanted to hide. The girls gave me the option to hide under whatever persona I chose and to try to forget about cancer for a bit.
My treatments over the last few years have thankfully not caused hair loss and I’m finally happy again with my hair, because it does grow back, but there is comfort in knowing the girls stand ready in my closet to serve and support if and when they are needed again.