November 18, 2009

Bad Hair Days

2009 1532 page31 capHE WAITING ROOM WAS CROWDED. IT WAS MY SECOND TIME THERE, AND though I wasn’t as scared, I was dreading the long day to come.
Four women sat nearby, laughing and talking together. I’d seen them before and knew they were waiting, like me, for a chemo treatment. Two were patients, the other two were friends.
I glanced at the women wearing baseball caps, barely hiding their bald heads. My doctor told me I would begin to lose my hair 10 to 14 days after the first treatment. It was day 21 and I had been gradually losing hair for more than a week. Although most of the women shaved their heads once their hair began falling out, I just couldn’t do it.
I hated many aspects of cancer and the side effects of treatments, yet this one hit me hard.
The four women told stories about their hair loss. The two friends were cancer survivors, and they told of when and how their hair had grown back. I leaned forward, eager to hear their stories. But as they joked about their adventures with wigs, hats, and scarves, I began to feel sick to my stomach. Suddenly, I began to cry quietly and couldn’t stop. My husband reached over and took my hand.
2009 1532 page31“Are you OK?” he whispered.
I nodded. When I could finally speak I whispered back, “I know they’ve gone through this longer than me and are accepting things with humor, but right now, it’s just not funny.”
I looked away from the women, hoping they wouldn’t see my tears. It had been only ?a few weeks since I’d had surgery, a few weeks of knowing I was a cancer patient. Only recently was I able to hear this word—or even say it—without crying.
The next day, I read in my devotional time: “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7).
I thought of the hairs in my hairbrush, on my pillow, in the hat I was wearing. Even though they weren’t on my head anymore, God knew how many strands were in my brush, on my pillow, in my hat, and in my hand. He had counted them all. With or without the hair on my head, God knew me and what my future held.
A few days after most of my hair had gone, I received a check from a friend at church who had raised funds so I could order a wig and other coverings to help me feel better. God’s love was shown again through His children.
In less than a week a box arrived. I opened it and pulled out the beautiful reddish-brown wig, a hat, and two bandanas. I touched the wig, so different from my own hair—straight and short where mine had been curly and longer; more red, where mine had been a dishwater blond. I took it into the bedroom, removed the protective hairnet, and put it on. It felt a bit strange, and looked a lot strange.
Was I still me?
The wig was a hit. Everyone loved it. Family and friends praised how good it looked on me.
Did God number the hairs on my wig?
I was still afraid. Afraid of the cancer, the chemo, the upcoming CT scan and its results. But I knew God would be with me through it all.
In the bushes against our home, many sparrows live and build their nests. God created those sparrows and they mean a lot to Him. But the Bible tells me that I mean more.
I don’t know if I can ever laugh over my hair loss. But I know that God watches over me and cares about what is happening, even the loss of my hair. He put it into the hearts of my friends to make the wig possible, something that is purely an emotional cure. And if He cares so much about such small things, how many more ways does He care for the big things in my life?
I can’t even begin to count them. 
Kathryn Lay is an author who lives with her family in Texas. Her web site is