There may be truth in Samson’s tale. More about that later.
I’ve always been grateful for a thick head of hair. Well, perhaps not during adolescence, when I
was critical of everything about myself. I’ve considered it a gift from my Venezuelan mother, the
Initially raven black and straight, it was happy in long braids, or in a ponytail, until tortures of
rollers came along and it became the pageboy with bangs I sported most of my life. Annoyed by
the reality of grey hair, I colored it, an albatross to maintain.
My first breast cancer was in 2001, very small, very scary. I didn’t require radiation or
chemotherapy, so imagine my surprise when my hair was suddenly curly. Of course, I usually
straightened it into its accustomed style.
My second bout with breast cancer was eight years later. both breasts, invasive, more serious.
Miraculously, my oncologist did not recommend chemo or radiation. I wore my hair curly then,
finally acknowledging its changed nature.
I had dodged a bullet twice, until last spring, eight years later, when I was diagnosed with round
three of cancer—a lymphoma under my right eye. The prognosis was good, but recovery would
require the trifecta of treatment: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. My hair’s days were
numbered. My oncologist predicted when loss would begin with uncanny accuracy, forcing me
to abandon my hope that I would be different when it began to appear in clumps on my
Miko, a delightful stylist, gave me my first buzz cut, as Donovan recorded the event. I was
delighted to learn I have a well-shaped head, a surprise, since I had never seen it without hair. An
even bigger surprise was the sense of freedom I felt. I had bought a wig in preparation for the
shearing, and to this day, six months later, I have not used it.
It’s growing back now, a silver pelt with a mind of its own. Strength is returning with the hair,
I’m grateful to find. Should I have heeded Samson’s warning? I didn’t really have a choice, but
I’m more fortunate than he, having survived.
I joke that I have free-range hair, that I’ve never been a silver fox before. I’m told I’m at the
height of fashion, probably for the first time. I’ll need to consider products to tame it soon,
possibly even a trim. Everything changes. The only constant.
lost his locks, source
of his Herculean strength
I did it willingly
as handfuls came off
shaving the rest
I should have heeded
strength and energy
departed with my hair
more fortunate than he
my hair grows once again
painstakingly slow to return
a pelt of sorts
with a mind of its own
as I, not
- Selma Mann