I thought I was getting prepared for it. Oncologist Dr Romeo Diaz had told me in the most certain terms that hair loss will begin after the third chemotherapy session. Other patients who have gone through the ordeal tossed me ideas about shaving to "restore self-confidence" and "preserve self-image."
But when the usually thick lustre of hair started breaking and falling off my head,
I got a little scared. Here was an actual part of me that was going away.
I force a smile, thinking of how I used to complain over my frequent trips to the salon each month on account of a healthy fast-growing raven mass of hair. I couldn't have imagined that my visit to the salon early last month was going to be my last ---- until I grow it back after months of treatment.
Now I collect loose strands on the pillow, the back of the sofa, the computer table, and off my neck, shoulders and arms. I look closely at the thinned-out strands and realised how they had lost all lustre and luminosity.
I comb my fingers gently through my head, and at the end of each stroke, there's quite a handful of the 'crowning glory' strands that easily land on the palm of my hands. I bathe under a slow shower, careful not to wash away the roots. But the bathroom floor drain collects an amount that frightens me.
I can only wish to slow it down.
It's just been a month since I first confirmed about the cancer in my body.
But the various tests, visits to the doctors, and subsequently the weekly blood tests, and chemo sessions and now, side trips to nurses who administer boosters to elevate my white blood cell count do not seem so recent.
I try to look past the physicality now.
Before any of these happened, I had been in a race with life to get it all in. To accomplish as much in a shorter span of time. To achieve more than what is expected.
I chose not to slow down; on the contrary, like most of us in modern society, I pushed myself to run ahead and overtake time. To rephrase Jordan Matter in #DancersAmongUs, what could have been a light jog became a sprint.
And "the faster we run, the less we see." I've been sprinting big leaps the past three decades, over-achieving and collecting 'big treasures but sacrificing many little gems along the way."
Now I want to seize each moment, celebrate the everyday miracles, and dance while I can.