Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Boy Band to Mr. Clean

So I'm bald now.  There's that.  It's weird.  It's cold.  But it also makes for a quicker shower and I get to wear fun hats - that wasn't always an option with a giant mop of curls on my head.

December has flown right by.  I dropped the cancer bomb on everyone and then I got so caught up in the magic of Christmas that I didn't have time to update!  That's not a complaint.  Christmas was great.  Super great.  Watching my kids was like watching Ralphie and his brother Randy open their gifts on Christmas morning...."Wow" "Whoopie"....Toby didn't get a red ryder bb gun, but he got a Nerf gun which might have won Christmas.

Since we last chatted, I flew to NYC for a second opinion, I've started chemo at Roswell, I chopped all my hair off and donated it, what hair I had left then started to fall out, and then I had it shaved off.  Oh, and in there was work, shopping, wrapping, parties, welcoming a new member into the family (I'm an aunt again, yay!!)'s been a busy month.

I think I'll save the chemo talk for another time and skip straight to hair talk.  It's more fun and it's impacted my life in the past month way more than the chemo has.

I started the month with my usual full head of curls.  Knowing I was going to lose those locks soon, I upped my selfie game to get some last shots. Why not?  I thought about doing a tour of Buffalo with my hair in different locations around the city....but that's weird.  Who would do that?  I'm not normal.  Luckily, there's an incredibly talented photographer at Roswell by the name of Ben Richey who has challenged himself with documenting my cancer journey through the lens of his camera.  How cool is that? Not only can I update everyone here, but now you'll be able to see the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of this shitty adventure.  You can check out his work on Instragram: @benricheycreative.

I met Ben on my first day of chemo.  The Buffalo Sabres were in the building visiting patients for Christmas.  Super cool.  They came by my chair and took some pics and signed some autographs.  My first day of chemo didn't suck.  Later that day, Ben returned and we had our first photoshoot....while I was being pumped full of chemo drugs.  Me, my curls, my red chucks, and my chemo pump.  Living the dream.

My chemo nurse had warned me that because my "cocktail" was going to be so strong, I would most likely lose my hair before I made it to my second treatment.  So just a week after my first treatment, I beat the chemo and chopped my hair off before it was gone on its own. I've always wanted to donate my hair.  I was actually planning on participating in the Bald for Bucks program through Roswell in March.  Even though I didn't make it to March, I was still able to donate through Roswell and I donated over a foot of hair!  My friend Tamera, who cuts my hair regularly, was able to meet me that Wednesday morning and, in a studio in Roswell, she cut off my curls while Ben and his partner Tony filmed and took pictures.  It was a pretty special day.  Here I was losing my hair because I had cancer, but it was one of my happiest days.  Tamera and I grew up down the street from each other.  She and her sister and I used to play hide and seek in my front yard and I would swim in their pool in the summer.  And here she was playing this important role in my journey.  My husband, the captain of my support team was there to stand by me as I lost such a strong piece of my identity.  My friend Ashley was also there.  Ashley and I have been friends since before we even started kindergarten.  She had one of the most important roles - she made sure the Christmas music was playing, she danced in the background, and she kept a smile on my face the whole time.  What a day.

Since I still had a week or two before it started to fall out, I took advantage and had Tamera do a fun short haircut.  I have NEVER had hair that short.  This was an adventure in itself.  It took me a day or so to get used to it, but once I got over the fact that I could double for the Biebs, I actually really liked it.  I was told I looked like a brunette Pink.  I'll take that!

Fast forward to Christmas.  My hair was falling out pretty heavily but I thought it would make Christmas less awkward if I kept my rockstar hair versus being a Christmas baldy.  Then 2 days later it was time.  I couldn't take it anymore, I was making a mess.  There was hair everywhere...time to shave.  Again, Tamera to the rescue!  This time I met her at her at work - Corto's Salon in Hamburg. My friends Anne & Emily were by my side - and my new personal paparazzi.  Tamera buzzed all my hair off.  I didn't think I'd get emotional, since I didn't the first time she cut it but seeing her buzz it off got to me.  There were tears.  Once she was done, I still had some "fuzz" - but it was splotchy fuzz since some had fallen out.  We needed one more step - the razor.  Into the barber seat I went for a clean shave!  I was treated like a queen every step of the way.  It was a little emotional, but like before, I was surrounded by people who made it special.  And after we were done, we went hat shopping!

So in the matter of about 3 weeks, I went from long curly locks to Justin Bieber look alike to Mrs. Clean.  I think I can rock this.  I mean I have no choice, so I HAVE to rock this.  And if nothing else, there's hats!
Day 1 of chemo. December 8, 2016
Photo courtesy of Ben Richey, Roswell Park

Hair donation day. December 14, 2016
Photo courtesy of Ben Richey, Roswell Park

The day I became a rock star!

Bald Day. December 27, 2016
Photo courtesy of Anne McIntosh

Photo courtesy of Anne McIntosh


Valerie Miller said...

So impressed with your take charge attitude! Love the smile throughout!
I was with my sister during her successful battle when she cut her
hair super short. Full of emotion, but also full of power and control!
Keep up the good fight! Val

Unknown said...

You look so beautiful. You definitely rock that look. Can't wait to see it in person!

Unknown said...

You're beautiful, my friend! It took you long enough to match my haircut!!

Nick Mendola said...

You are a hero, buddy. Keep it up. Praying and pulling for you.

Lynn said...

Hair matters not. You are the most beautiful person I know.

cgarcia said...

You are awesome. Kick cancer ass.

Unknown said...

You are beautiful hair or no hair. 😍

Anonymous said...

Cancer sucks ,but you rock it! You will conquer !! Hugs and prayers

KGregg said...

I am right there with you! Cancer sucks. We have cancer but cancer doesn't have us! Love reading your blog! Winter is the perfect time to rock a hat or scarf! Prayers to you and your family!

Ken said...

Hello my friend. I just want you to know I'm following you every step of the way and praying always for your healing. You rock and your attitude is amazing! Keep fighting and sporting those shoes kiddo! ��������

Tamera said...

You made such an impact on everyone at Cortos! Everyone has been asking about you, and saying what a beautiful person you are inside and out. It was instant love, which does does surprise me, as your energy is pleasantly infectious! I adore you. Thank you for bringing me on this journey. You have truly touched my heart. I too look forward to all of the adventures in the comeback of your beautiful curly "mop" once it starts to grow back! Keep up that positive attitude because there aren't many women that could pull off a straight razor to the head but girl you look gorgeous! Xoxo

Christina Abt said...

You, your journey, this blog and Ben's photos serve as inspirational reminders of the true value of life.
Thank you for continuing to share, the good, the bad and the ugly, all of which are incredibly special.

Unknown said...

You look fantastic with or without hair.. but I really think your amazing grace through this time in life is so inspiring. Keep your chin up & know I'm rooting for you with all my heart! 💜

Unknown said...

Having been at Roswell with a friend during her chemo treatments, I am able to empathize with what you are going through. Your sharing of you journey through word, and pictures, will certainly help future patients. Thank you for your strength, humor and tenacity!

NickiP said...

Lesley, you are truly amazing. I am in aw of your strength and such willingness to share. You are a rock! Thinking of you and praying for your good health.