The Wig


I haven’t been out and about as much as I’d like lately. Taxotere is taking its toll, and fatigue is reaching further and further into my life. What was originally a few days of being tired is now a week or more, leaving a week or so of time when I’m feeling good before the next cycle begins. I’ll take the days I have with gratitude, believe me, but it leaves little time for socializing. Most of my “good” week is spent running errands, catching up on my advocacy work, and getting some good writing time in.

But this was a good week – and I got out more than usual. I had a CBCRP meeting in Oakland and the bar mitzvah of a family friend.

For occasions like these, I spend more time than I should thinking about my head. It’s nearly bald – shaved close but not off – and I’ve been spared total baldness in favor of “fuzz.” The irony is that I gave up my long, curly fuzz for the short fuzz of a buzz cut.

IMG_3676.JPGThere are practical matters to consider. Walking around bald doesn’t bother me, but it can be awfully cold! Scarves help, and it’s what I wear most days. But TSA can make me remove a scarf, and that’s a hassle. Plus there’s the shocked stares of pity by those around me, which I really can’t stand. So I decided to wear my wig to the conference. It got me through TSA in both directions, though it itches quite a bit and I worry about it moving around. To me it looks so obviously like a wig, but only a few in the know agree. I’ve had a number of compliments about my new ‘do, so I guess I’m fooling most of the people some of the time.

Fast forward to the bar mitzvah. It was the first time I’ve been in synagogue in a number of months, and while many friends know that I’m back in chemo, it’s not – of course – part of their daily awareness. The experience is very different – close friends do a triple take before they realize it’s me. I know my curls were my signature feature. I could have gone with a curly wig, and that might have made things easier. But I wanted something a bit different. Nothing drastic – I’m not the type to go green or blue, let alone pink, but something that could make an otherwise miserable experience fun was in order.

So I’m never quite sure how to approach someone. Do I start with an introduction, which seems awkward, but not as strange as the “who the hell are you?” look I sometimes get. Or do I let them go from confusion to concern to shock to recognition? I try to stay with John, to provide a context and make things easier…but even that doesn’t work. I’ll never forget the time, back in 2002, when a very dear friend was upset with John for bringing another woman to synagogue while his wife was sick at home – until she figured out that it was a wigged me.

It’s been an interesting social experiment, and one that I hope isn’t making others too uncomfortable. I’m no less sure what to do than I was 14 years ago, but I’m still here asking the questions!

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Gemelli Frost
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 08:12:22

    Love the look! Nice change, so sorry you have to do this crap again 😦


  2. The Accidental Amazon
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 08:30:53

    Oh, Lori… Fatigue seems to be the subject of the moment. Isn’t it always though? I think I’ve written about it possibly more than any other side effect. Oy.

    RE hair and lack thereof, there is also the ‘snood’ option, much favored by certain friends (especially those who knit, or can still knit despite neuropathy, or have friends who knit). Our friend Rachel enjoyed a snood now and then. 😉 I must say I do like that wig. It’s sassy & I don’t think it looks wiggy either. I had to laugh about that friend thinking your husband was cheating on you. I don’t like that you have to figure out how to deal with how other people may or may not react to you. *sigh*

    I wish you could wrest more than the odd week now and then from the fatigue monster, but so glad you are able to get out and do what you want to at least some of the time. Social experiment indeed. xoxo, Kathi


  3. 3laine 3liane
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 08:33:24

    Thank you for posting! Your wig is adorable. And you look lovely in it. I’m sorry you’re tired too, but glad you are doing stuff. Social interactions under these circumstances are weird….what are they thinking? What do I look like? But they’re also gratifying. Wigs are itchy, sometimes unweildy things. it’s a bizarre thing (and i’m half Jewish), but i felt an affinity with orthodox Jewish women in my wig. Maybe because i also wore long sleeves to hide my picc. Orthodox Jewish women, country western singers and people having chemo….an interesting combo. Would TSA ever make you take off a wig? I have no idea. The thing i remember about being bald is how slimy my head felt, especially against sheets….it was weird, and I wore lots of little hats.

    Hope your treatment goes well and thinking of you. ((((<3))))


    • Lori
      Apr 11, 2016 @ 21:05:48

      It does look like a sheitel to me – but no doubt it’s contextual! And I DO have a collection of knit hats. I go shopping in the infusion suite…it helps pass the time!


  4. Sally Rubiner
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 09:03:25

    Tugging, a dead giveaway. We love you any which way.



  5. AnneMarie Ciccarella
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 19:41:00

    I can’t be the only one who sees a Dorothy Hamill resemblance??? I miss the curls, love the wig, hysterical about John being accused of having another woman at his side with a sick wife at home (as IF… ), and as for the scarf thing….. you better believe TSA will have you remove the damn thing unless you learn how to do a better job of tying it. And even then, yeah, it’s coming off. I can make jokes about the whole damn thing but still, I cry. I hate that you have to revisit this portion of the program. I love you, Lori. xoxox


    • Lori
      Apr 11, 2016 @ 21:08:05

      OMG – I sat through more ironing, straightenings and perms to get that look, and I can’t say any of them were a success. This would have been so much easier! XOX


  6. Anonymous
    Apr 12, 2016 @ 02:33:58

    Taxotere is taxing! Sending positive energy & thoughts your way.


  7. Kelly Lange
    Apr 12, 2016 @ 19:55:30

    That smile is unmistakable! You look great in any “do”! XOXO


  8. Anonymous
    Apr 13, 2016 @ 15:29:34

    Lori, I’m your Jewish-sister-in-curls, and we both know they grow back, thankfully — despite some subconscious wishes for the hair to grow in straight; just doesn’t seem to happen. I agree with everyone else: you look gorgeous in that wig, and it does NOT look like a wig! It’s only that it looks different from your beautiful curls but it looks wonderful, as do you. I’m so glad you have just one more round of Taxotere, and you’ll be able to reclaim your usual nonpareil level of activity and activism, like no one else. I hope you really feel all the love that so many people have for you, and your family, of course!!!!


  9. Amy Bernhard
    Apr 13, 2016 @ 20:53:30

    That Anonymous post today was from me, Amy. I don’t know why it didn’t show my name 🙂


  10. jbaird
    May 19, 2016 @ 22:30:47

    I wear my wig from time to time and get interesting comments. Some like my white hair better but others think I look so much younger with the wig. I wear whatever I feel like these days. I will wear a wig next Saturday to a wedding to hopefully feel more glamorous and youthful, although I am not sure if I will look any younger with all the chemo and brain junk I’ve been through over the years.

    I must say, though, with the recent loss of two wonderful metastatic blogger friends, I don’t care so much anymore if I have balding hair and have soon ditched the wig as a safety net. I just carry on for now . Hope I don’t sound too snarky.


    • Lori
      May 20, 2016 @ 08:27:55

      You sound just exactly right! I think how we project ourselves has everything to do with how we are feeling – or want to feel. But of course that is all secondary when we reflect on the reality of our disease, which is where the loss of friends usually takes us. Wishing you healing, my friend….


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