As you know, while this was a big week with my ending radiation, I haven’t been in the mood for celebrating. Nick and I had a nice small dinner out Tuesday with mom and Mark, and are now starting to think about doing more celebrating in February and March (more on this to come…), after I say good-bye to 38. The absolute highlight of my week, though, was exactly what got me through these last 10 months: the amazing outpouring of affection, support and genuine happiness for me from all the people in my life. The hugs, toasts, phone calls, texts, e-mails, blog, Facebook and linked-in messages. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for each and every person in my life, regardless of how long it’s been since I actually saw them. One message from an old friend from high school really struck a chord, and she told me I could share it with you:
Congrats on your last day of radiation!! So I have a story that I thought you might like to hear. I was on FB and a picture of you came up in my news feed. My oldest daughter was sitting next to me and saw your picture. She said “Momma, she is pretty and look she has baby bird hair like Tori (my niece) use to. Is she getting better like Tori did, mom?” I told her all about you, how we went to school together, how you have a son named Nick, how you traveled all over the United States and how INCREDIBLY STRONG you are! So back story on “baby bird” hair… when my niece was 15 she was diagnosed with cancer, and went through a year of aggressive chemo treatment. She was a 15 yr. old girl for who losing her hair was a bigger deal than the three tumors that they found in her body. Maddie (my daughter) was young when we found out about the cancer and in the beginning Tori would wear her wig when Maddie was around. She said she didn’t want to scare Maddie and upset her. After about two weeks I asked if Tori would please not wear her wig while Maddie was around. I wanted her to see what Tori looked like and not be afraid of people who look different. We got to my brother’s house one afternoon and Tori was not wearing her wig… Maddie was a little taken back (she was 3 ½) so of course she was a little confused. I had Maddie feel her head and touch her hair, she loved the feeling and said she had “baby bird” hair. We all thought it was funny but we also all got tears in our eyes that this beautiful little girl could make my niece feel like a princess with just one comment like that. Baby bird hair stuck with Maddie and now at 10 years old when we are out or she happens to see someone on TV she makes a comment about how beautiful women/girls look with their baby bird hair. She understands that it is what is inside, not on the outside that matters. She saw your picture, her first thought was how beautiful you are, then after I told her all about you she said… “Momma she is beautiful inside and out!” On your last day of radiation… please know that there is a little girl who may not know you but thinks that you are beautiful and hopes that you beat this disease just like her cousin did. I thought I would share our conversation with you, I know the last year has been a tough one (to say the least). Our conversation made me even more proud of her than I already am. I hope this finds you well and with your spirits high! Always thinking of you and sending prayers your way!
I read this to my mom when we went to dinner and we both cried our eyes out. Thank you so much, Kim and Maddie! Messages like these have been my lifeline! And I am excited to let anyone who hasn’t seen me lately know that slowly but surely I am progressing past ‘baby bird hair.’ I now have real eye lashes and eye brows, too. I don’t cry when I look in the mirror any more – in fact, I actually smile. When watching a movie with my friend Kevin, he looked over at me and said “You’re not used to your hair yet, are you? You keep playing with it!” And he’s right – I love just feeling that it’s there. It’s also become clear, now that it’s starting to fill in around my forehead, that I will have the same crazy cowlick hairline as before, although I swear I’ll never complain about it again. A bad hair day will beat a no hair day, any day!