On Sunday, a congregation member from a church that worships in our sanctuary greeted me with a warm smile. She said, “Your scarf is beautiful. But did you cut your hair? Why wear it?”
I paused for a moment and said, “Oh, thank you. Well, it’s because my hair started falling out because of my chemotherapy.”
About halfway through my sentence, I could tell that she had registered (on her own) why I was wearing a scarf. Her face said it all and then she became apologetic. She was embarrassed and sorry she had asked.
I’ve come to realize that there is no easy way to tell people that I’ve got cancer. It’s even more glaring now that I am regularly wearing hats and scarves to cover my head. But the thing is, I am not embarrassed that I had to shave my head a few weeks ago. In fact, it’s been quite freeing! My morning routine has been cut in half and I don’t have to worry about bad hair days anymore.
So a note to those to have or will cross paths with me: You don’t have to feel sorry for me. I know the look of pity as people register that I am young and battling cancer. It’s sad and hard sometimes, that’s for sure. Yet I have hope. I caught this early enough that the prognosis is very good. I pray each day not only for myself or my own family, but for everyone who is battling an illness alongside their friends, family, and loved ones. The greatest gift is knowing that I do not travel on this path alone.
That’s all the reassurance I need for now.
by Larissa Kwong Abazia