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Betty Reed

The year 2000 was one of the worse years of my life and one of the best. It began in January with a suspicious mammogram, followed by an ultrasound and immediately into surgery, then chemo and radiation. During that time, I learned much about myself: I learned that there were many who loved and supported me…some friends I hadn’t heard from in years and others total strangers; I learned to trust and take one day at a time as faith became my bedrock. I learned that I was stronger than I thought and that I was a fighter; I learned acceptance and determination; and I learned that losing my hair was as funny as it was traumatic, humbling and transformative.

I awoke the morning of my birthday with my pillow covered with hair. First I cried, then I forced myself to look in the mirror and then I had to laugh…all I could think of is “I look like Ed Wynn!” (an old comedian with signature sprouts of hair sticking out of his head). I hurriedly wrapped my head in a scarf and drove to the first hair salon I could find. When I told the hairdresser that I needed my head shaved, she and the other staff finished their clients and closed off the salon from view of those in the waiting area. They surrounded me and began shaving off what was left…all the while encouraging me and telling me that I was beautiful. At that moment, those women were my angels sent from heaven.

As the weeks went by, I soon had no hair remaining on my body…which brought a newfound freedom of no longer having to shampoo my hair or shave my legs or pluck my eyebrows. Oh I hated how I looked, but was struck by the realization that my body was like that of a newborn baby. This began my ultimate transformation into a new and better me. I would never be the same person after the year 2000.

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