Wigging it

by Hilla Duka


I came into this chemo experience with very strong opinions about wearing a wig. Well, there’s a surprise for you, when did I not have strong opinions? Anyway, I felt quite strongly that I shouldn’t have to change to make others more at ease, I felt that wearing a wig was an uncomfortable way of trying to hide your illness, faking it, and I wanted no part in it. I would be bald and comfortable. In some ways I still feel that way, but I’ve also learnt to see the other side of it. Perhaps because comfortable just isn’t on the map anymore.


I will sometimes wear a scarf and sometimes go bald, depending on how I feel. If my scalp is really sore and itchy I’ll wear a scarf both to hide it and protect it, while if I have a bit of a stub at the moment and don’t have a headache I’ll go bald. People who’ve previously seen me bald and then see me in a scarf often question it, like “Oh, but I thought you were ok being bald now, why are you wearing a scarf today?” Because it’s not only about how comfortable I am about having no hair.


But wearing a scarf means combining it with clothes, choosing one you want for the day, and then choosing a way of tying that you like and that feels comfortable for the day. All of these choices that you never have to make if you have hair. And then the scarf sits uncomfortably and the headache you were trying to avoid by putting it on comes on in full force from the knot of the scarf… There’s just no way to come out on top here.


And to be honest - the longer I do this cancer journey, the more I long to be well. I just cannot put into words how I yearn to be well. I would give anything to just not have cancer. And these days, I can understand why one would put on a wig, just to get a chance to escape from being seen as a cancer patient all the time, pretend for a little that life is as it was. As it should be.


So, six months into chemo hell, I made an appointment to try out a wig. Today was the big day, and off I went, half dreading the experience half excited and hopeful. And even though it felt weird, the wigs were actually a lot more comfortable than my scarves, which I had never thought. It was strange to see myself with hair again, but comforting, in a way. We didn’t find the exact same shade that my hair used to be, but this one’s fairly close. I didn’t get one today, but I probably will. If you see me suddenly having hair again, feel free to laugh. I do too - I laugh at the absurdity of worrying about what’s on your head when you’re fighting for your life. I laugh at the duality of it all - my life and my thoughts have become some sort of hellenistic saga of opposing concepts, that oftentimes seem to negate each other…

Oh and that arm you see in the picture? That's one of the many side effects I'm having to chemo - It's swollen beyond belief as you can probably tell, aching, and my fingers seem impossible to maneuver with any kind of accuracy... Oh chemo, how I love and hate you!


comments powered by Disqus