10. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

The day has finally arrived. After much inner deliberating and outer bravery we finally shaved my head today. But of course there is a story I have to share with you, one to really gladden the spirit.

My first thought after ‘Oh no, lymphoma means it is cancer’ was ‘Oh no, I’m going to lose my hair’. My younger son Matt has said in the past that my hair defines me – usually when I have been moaning about its total madness and inability to look good when I need it to. There was lots and lots of it and everyone loved it except me. I longed for straight, glossy, swishy hair like they have in the adverts, but I was in the curly queue when the hair quota was given out. Shortly after that I joined the very end of the patience queue, and they ran out before I got to the front, but that’s a whole other story.

Several people had suggested that I shave my head before the actual event as a mark of control in a situation where, for the most part, I have no control at all. I completely agreed but decided to wait until my hair showed signs of departing from my head of its own accord, simply because I had  heard of people who had this treatment and didn’t lose their hair. And I was convinced that I was going to be a medical miracle and not lose mine too. Everything in cancer treatment has a day number, as chemo treatment begins on Day 1. Obviously. It is a number that must be recited to whichever medical person asks. Failure to recite your day number elicits a look of total disbelief that you can be so out of touch with your treatment. One of the very first questions I asked was when I’d lose my hair, and I was told between days 10 and 14. Chemotherapy really is such a precise science – they know exactly when things are going to happen – it’s really quite amazing. So at Day 10 I gave my hair a good tug and it was really well attached. At Day 11 I actually had a compliment that my hair was looking really nice, so that was a result. Days 12 and 13 were similarly good and I was thinking, ‘YES! Beaten the system! One more day to go!’ Day 14 arrived. The tug on my hair was only half-hearted as I knew by now that I Would Be Different. At the half-hearted tug a whole clump of hair came away in my hands. How cruel is life? I was right up in front of the finishing post, so close to hairy victory, when at the last moment it was snatched from my grasp. Literally. So for a couple of days I kept checking it was still falling out, with the result that, well, it kept falling out. Shaving it should have been really easy. I knew it was the sensible thing to do for loads of reasons and mostly because it should have felt like I was in control. But it didn’t. I was really grieving for the old me and knew this would be the final step I had to take to move fully into the future.

I delayed for a couple of days, then this morning what was left looked so awful, and the scarves I had bought felt so uncomfortable that I said to Stephen, ‘Let’s just do it’. We dillied and dallied, fed the cats, washed up from last night, dithered around, then finally I sat down so he could apply the clippers. It felt really weird. Then, when he was halfway across my head, the doorbell rang. It was the postman with a big brown box. Our lovely friends Jack and Kris, from the American Federation of Astrologers in Arizona, had said they were preparing a mystery present for me and this was it. Trailing bits of hair across the floor, I was desperate to see what it might contain – only without opening it – it is so much more fun that way and prolongs the excitement. I saw the green customs label and saw that it contained……..hats. As an astrologer I know that timing is everything, but how stunningly appropriate was that? Sadness turned to excitement and I couldn’t wait for my hair to be finished so I could look in the box. I was stunned. The box was filled with beautiful, handknitted hats. And they were all pink. Unbeknown to me Jack’s sister Carol makes hats as a part time hobby and he had ordered loads to come to me. They are totally individual and real works of art. I shall model them and put them up for you to see one by one as she deserves to sell as many as she can possibly make. Today’s choice is as shown and I am loving it. Carol’s website is hatsbycarol.com. She transformed my day with her artistry as did Jack and Kris by their love and caring. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Happy Friday!

Margaret xxImage


About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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12 Responses to 10. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

  1. Lisa Gawtry says:

    you look so beautiful,can’t wait to see the rest of the hats lots of love Xxx


  2. Dolores. says:

    Dear Margaret, you look stunning in your new hat sand that smile lights up the room. You are so brave shaving your head like that. I have waist length hair and although it is now thinning , as it does with age, I would be devastated to lose it. God Bless you dear , your courage is an example to us all.



  3. Stephanie says:

    You look stunning darling! V. chic. A friend of mine who had chemo, her hair grew back thicker and softer and nicer than before. Who knows you may yet end up with the hair you’ve always wanted.

    Keep smiling!



  4. I think your blog is excellent, but I think your hat is even better! X


  5. Kris Brandt Riske says:

    Simply gorgeous!!!! Both the model with the brilliant smile and the hat!!! xo


  6. rose says:

    wow, love it, as i said yesterday your amazing, keep writing too. The hats good but you look great!xx


  7. Jane Cahill says:

    You look fab and sooo well !!!


  8. Sue J says:

    I’m so vain – , with limited cause – that this stabbed at me , most especially because I find myself sifting other people’s experiences and emotions through my own to best understand them. Of course you had finally to shave your hair. If you were not to look as if the moths had got at you what else could you do ? Would I do the same ? Probably, but I’d have a wig at the ready., No chance of me hairless and so hatted, looking this good. The radiant smile is essential but I’ve never owned such a smile . You look wonderful – not remotely ill. And when all this hassle (yes lets toss it away with that word) when this hassle is over, you’ll have a second chance for a good – and different – head of hair.
    I’d definitely feel sorry for myself – big noses need big hair – but, given your natural assets, it’s not so bad is it?
    I’m loving your latter collection of Headings; interestingly when telling someone how to reach your blog, I found myself telling them to google in Margaret Cahill Under the Mantle of Darkness…..
    Love Sue xxxxx


  9. Natalia Chuter says:



  10. Jeni Powell says:

    Well I totally agree with the comments about copious bottles of wine being opened at your book launch …… your writing is fabulous, heartwarming and ‘real’ …. just like you. I am ashamed to say that I have not logged on to your blog for a few days (to me it seems like a few days but in reality it must be longer as I have just read from blog 7). You are an inspiration to us all Margaret – a true shining star. I could feel your dilemma regarding the control/acceptance/surrender issues; sometimes the more we think about them the more we doubt our initial feeling ….do we have control? Are we to surrender control? What exactly IS control !?????Agggghhhh!!!!!

    Anyway, I love the hat – and pink as well! Yey!!!! Judy’s comments are, as always, spot on and she highlights what wonderful souls both you and Stephen are!

    Massive hugs to you both xxx


    • Hiya,
      Thanks so much for your lovely comments and also for your perfect summary of the acceptance/surrender/control dilemma. Any do we actually have any choice anyway? You could go crazy with this stuff :-) I’ll be exploring it more in the forthcoming blogs so your comments are really helpful.
      Big hugs


  11. Caron Rogers says:

    OK, I admit it, this entry made me cry. What insight from Jack and Kris, not to mention the remarkable timing. You look fab’ Cx


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