I get why Britney did it. I mean, I never would have voluntarily shaved my head before being diagnosed with cancer – even though I never LOVED my hair, I cherished my long locks and rarely got more than a trim – but I totally get it now.
Today marks the second anniversary of my #pullingabritney moment. It was between my second and third chemos and I was holding on to every possible hope that maybe, just maybe I would be one of the very few cases that just didn’t lose their hair. But that wasn’t helping.
My hair was coming out in clumps. To avoid it I just tried not to touch it… at all. Which made it look super ragged by the end of every day. And, for some reason it hurt. It itched. I remember telling Reed it was like there were shards of glass on my head.
So one night, before dinner, I decided: this was the night. We would shave my head. We had dinner. Then we took a family picture on the couch. For some reason I felt it was totally necessary to memorialize this moment, as though I would never have hair again.
Then it got weird. Or at least some people might think so. I’d prefer to call it “cathartic.” I let Reed, the girls and my mom each pull out a chunk. The girls had been asking to touch my hair for weeks and I hadn’t let them for fear it would fall out. Then we went up to our master bathroom, turned on some tunes, and I let them each shave a strip before Reed finished the job.
Hayden went first and halfway up my head decided she didn’t like this anymore. Too late kid… Taylor was freaked out by the whole thing and hid behind the bathtub and Chelsea laughed hysterically (we may need to worry about her later in life). From what I remember, me, my mom and Reed just cried. Then… we laughed. Especially when, as Reed shaved the top of my head first, I got a taste of male-pattern baldness and Hayden quickly decided I looked exactly like my dad and brother. (I totally did. And if the hard drive with the evidence on it hadn’t crashed there would be a picture of that here, instead I offer this picture of my dad and brother for reference…)
It was over before I knew it. And it was strange. In the very short time that had passed, I was transformed. Not just because on the outside I suddenly looked like Britney circa 2007, but inside too. I felt so free. My head didn’t hurt any more. And much to my surprise, I actually liked the way I looked (even though it was super strange).
How did one of the moments on my journey that I dreaded most become one that I look back on most fondly? I think it’s because when you’re on this journey – in many ways – you have very little control. Or at least it feels like it, especially at first. But when I decided to shave my head, essentially letting my family fashion me into a cue-ball, I took control. It was my decision. I did it. And by doing so I took away cancer’s ability to make me self-conscious about my patchy ‘do, to let constant shedding to be an ongoing reminder of my journey. I was in control.
I think that’s probably what Britney was going for, too: control. And while I would chose the stress of being one of the most famous pop-stars of our time over cancer any day (who wouldn’t?!)… now I get it. And in a way, feel much closer to her. It’s like we’re long-distance BFFs that have pretty much nothing else in common and have never met.
To this day one of the questions I get most is: what about my hair? When should I shave it? What do I do? My advice to these inquiries is always: embrace it.
Own it. Pick your day. Pick your time. Make a moment of it. Involve a person or the people closest to you. Turn on some tunes you love, and jam out. Go to a spa or do it in the comfort of your home. Just make that moment yours.
On many cancer journeys this is a moment that causes much anxiety. And while it is definitely emotional, and certainly isn’t easy, I’d suggest it can also be one of the most empowering.
Wishing you all the peace that can come with #pullingabritney – and a life that gets #bettereveryday.
Have you shaved your head? We’d love to hear your story! Curious about shaving your head? Post your questions here and let your fellow #bettereveryday-ers share their wisdom to help you make the decisions that are best for you!