Cancer – My Latest Accessory!

I imagine that everyone would say that their style has changed over the course of their life and perhaps even some of those styles return. I know that there has definitely been an upsurge of eighties style clothing on the racks as of late. Unfortunately.

I am a firm believer that style provides a certain insight into one’s personality. As children our parents select our style for us. It is often genderized, pink for girls and blue for boys. I look back at my childhood photos and take note of my matching dresses and hats. Somewhere around nine or ten, we develop our sense of style. Mine was definitely fluorescent. I loved bright colors and honestly still do, even if I don’t wear them all that frequently. My middle school years saw spurts of colored hair (hot pink or green), my favorite bright red Airwalks that I convinced my parents to drive all the way to Thorne’s Market in Northampton (an hour away) to buy, a lime green aviator jacket that went with absolutely nothing ,way too big corduroys and tie dyed tees, peasant shirts, and poorly put together outfits. My style evened out by sophomore year, but was somewhat boring. My closet mostly consisted of jeans and neutral tone sweaters. College was comprised of sweats and hoodies for the most part. I had on jeans a black turtle neck sweater and my leather jacket one fall day and my boyfriend at the time panicked thinking we must be going someplace fancy. It was that moment I realized my sweats needed to be taken out of the rotation. After college I obtained my first grown up job as a high school teacher and made it my mission to build a professional wardrobe on a limited budget. And I must admit I really do like to wear my money. Shopping for me is like channeling Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City minus the Jimmy Choos and Dolce due to a lack of funds. I pride myself on never duplicating outfits within a school year. I wear the pieces multiple times but never the same way. My students refer to me as somewhat of a fashionista. I’ll take that compliment any day.

My style drastically changed with my cancer, as did the rest of my life. But I had no intention of letting potential hair loss, pale skin and weight fluctuation take away my style. Instead I decided to embrace it and let it reflect my attitude about my recent diagnosis. My first step was to go with a short hair style, so that once my hair started falling out it would be far less drastic. I began my search for the perfect hair cut on Pintrest and found Jennifer Lawrence’s look to be daring but still feminine. So I went for it, certainly something I had never been brave enough to do before. I think it is funny now that I thought that was brave. Either way, I went to Ulta, sat in the chair, showed the stylist the picture, and said just go for it. She tried to talk me out of it at first but after I explained my situation she quickly decided it was a great idea. It took some getting used to and the people that had not yet been informed of my recent health problems just thought I was in need of a change and it looked great. I have to admit it might just have been my best hair cut ever.

I knew that my hair was slated to fall out after a few rounds of chemo so I promptly signed up for the Look Good Feel Better skin, hair, and make up workshop offered at MOMENTS HOUSE our local cancer support center. I actually received a private session because no one else showed up for the date I chose. So Steph (my BFF) and I got make up advice from a local stylist, I received a ton of amazing products donated by top Companies partnering with the American Cancer Society, tried on a few wigs (some of which were hilarious like an eighty hair band style), learned a few ways to tie head scarves, and overall had a fun evening. After that I felt pretty confident about how to apply make and when the time came if I needed to pencil in my eyebrows I would not be walking around with a permanently surprised set of brows or an angry scowl look.

True to form my hair started to shed shortly after my first cycle of ABVD (two treatments). It was worse then my Golden Retriever, between the two of us there was hair everywhere. I decided enough was enough and convinced Steph, the beauty school drop out (Just to clarify, Steph pursued cosmetology before finding her true calling and becoming an amazing High School History teacher.), to once again be my hair dresser. Only this time I didn’t need a trim, I wanted her to first shave it into a multi-colored mohawk just so I could say I once had a mohawk and then shave it entirely. She was far more nervous about it than I was. I thought of it as making the most of a difficult situation. Why not have fun with it? Steph was hesitant but was a trooper in the end. It was actually the first time she had ever done my hair that it was pain free for me at least. She of course ended up with hair and dye all over her hands, but I have to admit for thirty minutes I totally rocked my mohawk. Steph convinced me to post it to my facebook page to show people just how I was handling my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis without giving the nitty gritty details. It was actually really freeing for me and nice to see the support of so many.

Once the mohawk was shaved off came the wig and head scarfs. I was fortunate enough to have grandparents that purchased a top of the line wig for me. I went to Hair Studio, where Frank swept me to a private room in the studio and had me try on wigs that he could custom alter to best suit me. I found a great wig, darker than my natural color, with a little bit of an edge that I just fell in love with. It many ways it looked better than my actual hair ever did and I wore it a lot at first, despite that I constantly got food in it because well I must just be a messy eater and that it was a little uncomfortable around the ears. It looked so natural that strangers and even my colleagues and students (who should have known better) thought it was real. So I’ll take that as a win.

But overtime, I felt like the head scarf was more of my every day style and I had purchased tons of them to match and properly accessorize every outfit. One of my eighth grade students even bought one for me, she said that they suited me and she was pretty sure the one she selected was my favorite color. And she was right, It was a beautiful ombre turquoise scarf that I just love for both the sentiment and the style. I watched you tube videos made by the amazing Karina Moreira for beauty tips and scarf tying. So I wear my scarves all different ways, but rest assured they match my outfit and jewelry. My oncologist and team of nurses as well as friends and family comment on my matching, especially because I am far too well dressed for chemo (so they think). I personally think feeling put together makes me feel both beautiful and ready to face anything. I actually joked to my friend Tammy that I had somehow morphed into the Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl reference) of cancer patients and that my cancer was just my latest accessory!

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