It’s been fun sharing some creative hair inspiration, and considering I am only about 1/3 of the way through my 30 days of posting ideas, it will definitely continue.
What I am sharing today is the most important Hair Challenge that will be posted because it’s about so much more than hair.
My challenge for you today? Grab a cup of coffee and read about a life changing woman.
Two and a half years ago, I had the privilege of sitting around this table and hearing Heather share her heart. We were seated for lunch in a ball room packed with women who were laughing and giggling, yet I can close my eyes, and instantly be drawn back to that moment when only one person garnered my attention.
Heather had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and treated for her tumor. On top of that, her precious daughter battled an on-going congestive heart failure condition, which alone, was enough for me to cry out, “Lord, how can she handle all of this?”
I asked Heather to tell you about the process she went through in deciding to just go bald and not don a wig because if there’s one person where bald is truly beautiful, it’s Heather. I have been writing about the superficial aspect of having fun playing with our hair, when Heather doesn’t even have that choice, and it certainly puts it into perspective.
What Heather didn’t know when she sent me over this post was that I wanted to spend today honoring a women who is already amazing. Our special friend, Holley Gerth wrote a book entitled just that, “You’re already amazing,” She asked us to honor one woman, and of all weeks, I am privileged to introduce you to someone truly amazing.
This post is no longer about just her hair. Heather just passed the one year anniversary of her daughter’s death. Needless to say, it’s been a tough week, and as I sit here typing and bawling at my computer (and I am so not a crier), I wish to offer a collective cyber hug to my precious friend. I feel so inadequate in moments like these. I can’t even begin to understand or encourage through something like this. I am so unworthy of understanding, but I know HE does.
Heather is an inspiration. Her faith is authentic and raw. She doesn’t pretend that life is perfect. She shares from a deep abiding knowledge that sometimes there are no answers, yet in the midst of life’s greatest heart ache, He is there.
I ask you to hop over to Heather’s blog, Especially Heather – It’s not about the hair, it’s about the heart, and continue on with letting her know she is already amazing.
I stole these pictures from her site to just show off this amazing woman.
Now, I turn the following words over to Heather, as she shares the process she went through as she lost her hair.
First, I did not lose my hair from chemo. I took a pill form of chemo called Temodar. Temodar has all of the usual side effects of IV chemo (low platelets, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss etc) except for losing your hair. I lost my hair due to high levels of radiation on my scalp that killed my hair follicles. I have thinning in large areas that will never be full again from where the levels were lower. I have an “old man bald spot” on the top of my head where the radiation levels were high:
Losing my hair was honestly the hardest part of having cancer. I was suddenly faced with the all too real fact that my life as I knew it was changing. My semi normal existence was disrupting right before my eyes. Yet it was up to me on how to face that change.
I was walking by a wig store in the mall and decided to go in and just try one on. I fell head over heels because it made me feel normal on the outside. Honestly they “concealed” my bald head, but they didn’t conceal what was going on inside of my heart. I was battling God with my pride big time, and God was winning…Big time. For about a year I wore that wig, (many- truth be told.)
Then something inside of me changed and I realized that I wore it for everyone else, but deep inside I hated it. I hated that it made me feel “fake”. I hated that it made me feel like I was trying to “cover up” the fact that I had just gone through the worst time of my life and came out better despite it. People would tell me that I was a totally different person without my wig than with it on. That really hit home. Yet I still wore it because I had done so for so long, I was afraid of what people would think if I suddenly went without it.
There was that pride again.
Then came SheSpeaks. I can’t begin to tell you the transformation to my heart that happened there. My pride was torn down and I was left with the real realization of how much my hair (or lack thereof) was affecting my spirit. When I stepped off the plane, I fidgeted with my wig constantly and was very self conscious the entire time.
I wore my wig to the first dinner that we had with all of the bloggers. I was quiet and insecure. I was not myself and I knew that.
Lisa was my roommate and has become a dear friend to me. She noticed that when I was in the room after dinner and had my wig off, my demeanor completely changed. She told me to just go without it for the rest of the conference and see what happened. I reluctantly took it off for the evening seminar and I felt totally different. I felt as if some of the weight of being a cancer patient had been lifted off of my shoulders.
Photo Credit: Chatting At The Sky
I felt like part of the “old me” had returned. The better part. I felt more focused on the people around me, and less focused on my wig (and myself). I know it sounds crazy that a wig could be this pivotal in my life.. but it was.
I wrote this the day my hair started to fall out in my paper journal:
Lord, Please help me realize that this is not about my hair. It is about my heart. Do what you want with my heart and my hair. I give them back to you.
Yet I had fought Him the entire way.
The SheSpeaks conference was the turning point for me. It is not about my hair. It is about what the Lord is doing in my heart. It is about those lessons that I could not have learned unless He had taken my hair (and my sense of control) away from me. It is about His mercy in my moments of anger and despair; His grace when I felt all alone.
When I got home from SheSpeaks, I was concerned how my children felt about me going without my wig. My 9 year old son looked at me and said “Mom, we all know you had cancer, why are you trying to hide it?”
I love that kid.
Now, 5+ years later, I still sport my bald head. I may wear a hat here or there, when I don’t have time to shave it or when it is cold outside. My most favorite part about being bald Is the conversations it brings up, and the questions that arise. I love to tell my story about how the Lord healed my heart of pride.
Because, really… It’s not about the hair, it’s about the heart.
(This is Jen again. I told you, “She is amazing.” Now go check out her story at Especially Heather .)
Oh, Heather. I will never forget how I stupidly remarked about your bald head that weekend. I didn’t know. I just didn’t know. Now I do, though, and Jen is right. You. Are. Amazing. And beautiful. And loved. Sending you a big cyber hug right now…
This is an absolutely beautiful post. I’m feeling so privileged, just to be included in the life of such an amazing person–even in this small way. Thank you for posting this. We sometimes get so caught up in other things and end up missing the bigger picture.
As I read this one thing came to mind, Proverbs 31:29-30 – “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Heather is indeed a beautiful woman, with and without the wig, and she deserves to be praised for being such an amazing woman.
I have a friend with alopecia. Her path has been different, but she has arrived in a similar place as you. After wrestling with wigs and with God for decades, she now is at peace going out in public bald, which she calls “going topless” -ha. Her baldness is a wonderful conversation starter that has allowed her to share her faith journey with many. She constantly reminds those around her that while the world may tell us we have to live up to its ideal of beauty and perfection, God loves us exactly as we are! 🙂
Sigh. What an inspiration… I’m in awe of you Heather! I can’t even begin to imagine the journey you’ve been on.
It’s interesting that you wrote about this today. I’ve been considering hosting an event for St. Baldricks. (If you haven’t ever heard of them, check out their website. They’re amazing!) Anyway, they raise money for research of children’s cancers through shave-a-thons. People sign up to be a “shavee” and collect donations from sponsors. It’s a great event that people get really amped up about. I’ve wanted to shave my head in support of this group, but my husband doesn’t want me to do it. (Pride on his part, perhaps?) I have wondered how people would react to my head. If they would think that I have cancer. If I would feel uncomfortable, or liberated? (Of course, it’s very different when one chooses to be bald v. losing one’s hair to cancer treatments.)
Thank you for sharing this article. And Heather, thank you for sharing your vulnerability.
Jen, Thank you so much for sharing Heather’s post, for I would probably not have come across it otherwise. I then went to her site and read about her little girl in “Emma’s Story,” and the struggles with that situation. I found a paragraph that truly tugged at my heart and certainly brought forth some tears to fall down my cheeks:
“I cannot describe the roller coaster that our family has been thru, and continues to go thru. I can however describe the unfailing love of our Savior, and the unconditional support of our family. Despite our heartache and hardships, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. There are still days that I am angry, hurt and wave my fists at God. But I also have come to realize that none of us are promised a tomorrow, and today is way to precious to waste on frivolous emotions. I look at my daughters life, and I see the epidemy of Gods Love…..”
I know…me too. It’s just honest, raw emotions and I love her for it.
Heather, we love you and we love your Emma. We think of you both often and your stories inspire us and make us braver. You are beautiful through and through. It’s such a gift to know you!
Oh my gosh, Jen, I went over to her blog, and cried, and cried, and cried, through the whole thing. And took way too much time out of my afternoon, but I just HAD to get through the story. Now, my face is all puffy and red (thanks, lol!) Wow, it is making me feel SO very blessed for all that God has seen fit to give me. I coneived, after 9 years and 5 months of trying, and I had so many concerns of what could happen to my unborn child, since I was 40 yrs. old when I conceived. Our daughter has speech problems, which we are getting therapy for, but other than that, she is a very healthy child, although, she gets bored more quickly than the average child (not good if you are a 45 year old mother!) but I am feeling so, so, blessed with my life, after reading that woman’s story. A very big THANK YOU for sharing!!!
I’m so glad I was there and a part of that special weekend. I love you, Heather! (and you, too, Jen!)
Oh Heather… you are amazing. Amazing and inspiring and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Holding you close in prayer! (((Big cyber hugs)))
Thanks, Jen for this post. Wow. Heather is an amazing woman and she has an amazing God.
Sorry guys. I changed my blog name this morning to In The Cool Of The Day (inthecooloftheday.wordpress.com). The link in my first comment is no longer working.