The day has come. The day I always knew was going to come has come. The day I never wanted has come. I have shaved off my hair.

I should probably be clear and say that my head shaved looks better than what I have been sporting for the last ten days, and that is in public. One can only imagine what Housemate was greeted with every morning (yes, if I got up before he left for work) after I had slept on the balding mess. The pragmatic side of me knows I had to take this step, if only to save my kitchen floor from becoming a carpet. I am thankful to the person who did it, finally. I will no longer wonder what I will look like with a shaved head, because I have seen it. I will no longer wonder, at least not for the foreseeable future, how long my hair has left because it is gone.

I have prepared and prepared for this moment, and I have tried to put it off for as long as possible, but the sad truth was, that today, it was too far gone. The cyclophosphamide, that I did not need, had done its job, well at least some of it, and the only way for me to regain control was to shave it.

The act of doing it was fine. I was with Big Sister. I was brave and I knew it had to be done. I do not feel brave now. I do not want to be brave. I will deal with my new look because I have to, my circumstances and my dogged determination to make the best of My Myeloma dictate that. I do not want to look like this. I have listened to and been appreciative of other cancer patients tell me that the experience is not that bad and they have felt liberated by it, but I do not want to feel liberated. Sure, I am going to save some time in the morning and save a bit of cash on hair products, but I do not want to look like this. My name is Emma Jane Jones and I have luscious long locks, that is what I recognise. When they went, I had a bob and that was fine. I don’t recognise myself today in the mirror. I have tried to not look in the mirror. My thoughts and my mind are the same, but the packaging is different and today, I cannot reconcile the two. I don’t want to look like this.

The evolution of my mane.

What is left

I don’t want people to tell me that I look good or that I can pull it off, because I know that I would look better if I did not have a shaved head. I would also be upset if people did’t say these things by the way. There is no escaping that fact. If I am perfectly honest with myself, at certain angles, let’s say 80%, I have a double chin. Said double chin cannot be hidden when one has no hair. The hair itself is quite thin, so for extra vanity points, there are clear areas of scalp. Hmmmm, scalp. If I was a blondie, this would not be an issue, but alas, I am far from blonde. I also have masculine features. It’s a true story and unfortunately, they cannot be hidden without locks either. I fear I look like Haemo Dad, but he has more hair. I am going to need to be on the ball with my makeup; runny mascara and lipstick crud at the end of the day will no longer be permitted. I am angry with myself for thinking it, but I know for sure now that I will have to win any boy over with my wit and my wit alone and that evidently does not go far. I don’t want people to feel relief that they do not have to be seen with me on their arm. In my life, I have been fortunate to have run my hand through some very soft short hair before, and I expected my hair to feel like that. It doesn’t. It feels like a mass of ingrowing hairs. Maybe it needs to be longer. The icing on the cake was the family dog’s reaction to my new ‘do. She just kept licking my ears and the area behind my ears. I think a Bischon Frishe my have a limited IQ.

With no make up, no filter, after a dose of thalidomide, I look like this:


I repeat that I know why I have a shaved head and I know that I had very little choice in the matter. I also know that it will get better. I know my reaction to it will get better. It’s just one of those cancer related things that sucks.

I am vain, and my feelings about my hair are influenced by how I want people to see me. Despite my double chin and my masculine features, I liked the way I looked. I will have to learn to like this and I dread to think just how obsessed I will be about finding my new comfort zone over the coming weeks. New clothes are bound to be involved. Jewellery too. Perhaps some make up. As with everything else, I will not let it defeat me and I will find a way. I will find a way because I have to, just like everything else. I am just giving myself a moment to dwell. Dwell on the things it has changed and the things about me I will miss. Everybody will know I have cancer now. Well, everybody outside the London Borough of Hackney. Maybe it will make it easier to get a seat on the bus.

Everything will make sense again, and it will get off to a good start this coming Wednesday when my good friend Iana, who likes his hair more than I liked mine will be shaving his hair off for Macmillan. We were supposed to do it together and this had been planned since October, but I was a wuss and kept putting it off until I could no longer put it off. So, in short, to support me, he has decided to Bic his head. I personally cannot wait. The link to his Just Giving page is below, please dig deep. He’s had long hair, cut by his Mum since he was 13. Do not think this is a token exercise just because he is a boy. It is his armour too. Neither of us are celebrities doing this for publicity. We found our own inspiration. I should add that all previous donations have already gone to Macmillan. I swear.

Oh, and if you are still in two minds about donating. He made a video about us. It will win you over. It won me over.

Apologies if I have previously posted this, I have tried and tried to remember whether I have, but I just cannot recall. Bloody drugs.

And finally, due to IT issues, I wrote this blog yesterday. I fear that the self loving through retail therapy will start today. I want to feel pampered.


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5 thoughts on “Liberated?

  1. […] through the big head shave. Hats off (or should I say ‘hair off’?) to you, Deborah and Emma Jane – not that you really had a choice in the matter. I hope you both find peace with your new look […]

  2. Jet Black says:

    I’m so sorry you are hating this aspect of your myeloma journey. I hope you find peace with it. I know it doesn’t help at all for me to tell you that I really enjoyed being bald. Admittedly, it was summer time, which helped.

    Anyway, in honour of your head shave, I mentioned you (and publicised your blog) in my blog today:

  3. Bollocks to anyone saying its liberating. It is just another visible sign we have to live with. In my case it has gone along with a lot of issues with my posture (cant stand straight), and with loss of height – all just unwanted advertisements for my myeloma.

    But at the same time, it’s not so bad either. Hair will grow back, and I will fight, with my physio, for my posture. And fortunately I was 6′ 4″ before, so I can afford to lose a few inches.

    Strength to you, Emma

  4. Nah, it’s not liberating… nothing about this disease is upbeat, but the changes one goes through because of it might eventually have something of redeemable notice. What is really important is that you can come to see yourself for the beautiful soul, lovely young woman with incredible wit and delivery of words that you are. The right young man will value you and appreciate all there is about you; there are stories of love emerging from more daunting situations and I am intending such profound love for you, dear dear Emma. It is when we truly love ourselves that we become magnets of love to others, and you are well on the way to captivating someone’s heart – no one deserves it more!

  5. dear emma,

    you write with such candid and raw emotion – i know it strikes a chord with others. and i hope with all my heart that writing what you are living helps ease your mourning. it is undeniable, the aspects of our physical selves that hold forth much of our identity, when taken away is very painful. but it is also true that your inner self, which you so eloquently decribe, which we are priveleged to read about and take into our hearts post after post is the emma we have grown so deeply fond of, the emma that we admire, the emma that makes us think, and laugh, and cry, and feel so grateful for such a cyber force to be reckoned with, that emma who has become (probably always has been!) wise beyond her years whom we are so captivated with. i want you to know that your honesty, your verve, your creativity, your propensity to make me in awe of what you share, has left it’s mark on me. you are one helluva wordsmith, emma. words matter. the words written by a 28 yr old woman with myeloma – better, more descriptive, more true, simply could not be written. hold on tight to that magnificent aspect of your identity, emma.

    xoxo, karen, TC

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