There is a Hindu tradition in India, called Mundan, the first shaving of the baby’s hair. It signifies removing undesirable traits of a past life, so the baby can begin a new life. It is also supposed to lead to better hair growth.
When I was a kid, I found out my parents had done the ceremony for my brother and sister, but not for me. I used to complain that my hair was extra curly, frizzy, dry, out of control (opposite of my brother’s and sister’s hair) because they did not do a Mundan for me! (The reality is- my hair is like my mom’s)
I did not like my curly hair for a long time and then started to straighten it (the straightening iron- a great invention!!). After a while though, I decided to just embrace the curls, let them have a life of its own- and straighten it once in a while.
Here is a picture from the day after my first chemo (December 22nd),before I started to lose hair. I wanted to straighten my hair to enjoy it for the holidays so Mona straightened it for me. There is a picture of me with Kiran and then Mona with Kiran and Nitya.
As I mentioned earlier, I started losing my hair after the first treatment. When I went for a wig appointment last Thursday, my sister Sarika braided my hair and I kept it like that, knowing that my hair will continue to fall out. I started to feel more and more clumps on my braid so I was anxious to get rid of it.
This past Sunday, my sister Sarika, my brother in law Ronak, my future sister-in-law Kimberly (did I mention that my brother is getting married in March!!) and I went to the Belmont Beauty Salon in order to get a buzz cut. Ronak had told me that he was going to shave his head also when he first heard of my diagnosis. I thought he was kidding, but he was not. So we both got 1/8 inch buzz cuts on Sunday.
I remembered a conversation I had with Ronak before he married my sister. He told me that I am now going to be his sister, and I have another brother (And of course he now teases me as brother’s do!). I am still extremely touched that he joined me in this. I really did not think about my hair at all, or losing it because he was doing this with me. And Sarika and Kimberly were rooting us throughout the process. It ended up being a lot of fun. And the ladies at the Belmont Beauty Salon were great- empathetic, supportive and they could not stop talking about how handsome Ronak was!
And with my sweet niece Nitya- who was enjoying my newly buzzed head:
Some observations/ questions
- I have been so used to having long hair covering my neck and ears, it is such a strange feeling having a bare neck and ears. How am I supposed to keep my neck and ears warm? It is weird walking around at home with a scarf.
- Look at how much gray hair is there!! I used to have gray hair on the roots but most of my black hair could cover it. After the shave- it looks mostly gray.
- When I check into hotels, the first thing I usually tell them is, please send me extra shampoo and conditioner as one small bottle is not enough. Well now, I only needed one drop of each!
- How do I take care of the scalp? Do I wash my hair/scalp as often as I did before or do I wash it every day?
- Without the hair, the face gets enhanced- so you can see every single blemish or mark on the face. Time for a facial =)
- How do I keep my ears and neck warm??? I really never thought about how much my hair kept me warm – and so far that has been the strangest thing about having no hair so it’s worth asking twice ;)
It was hard for my mom and maybe others who love me, to see me without my hair. Maybe it is an obvious reminder of what I am going through. The lack of hair has not bothered me yet- even when I have gone out a few times. And though I am way past the time to have a Mundan - the loss of hair means a loss of cancer cells- and when my hair grows back, I get to start a new cancer free life. And that is its own rebirth.