I’d like to share a bit of advice with you all tonight…
Please don’t feed the bears and please don’t make the badly scarred and bald woman feel (more) uncomfortable (than she is).
I just must attract people, odd people. That’s all there is to it. I’ve had two uncomfortable experiences over the past two weeks and I was polite to both people when I really didn’t want to be.
Last Thursday at the home, dad’s social worker asked me where I got the tattoo. I don’t have a tattoo but I knew what he was talking about because he’d just walked up from behind me so I knew he meant my scar. I had surgery in December 2011 to take my Trapezius muscle from my back and turn it upside to put on my head to cover a hole the radiation wore in the new skin on my head. It left a pretty gnarly scar that makes me feel deformed and maimed. So I’m less than receptive to conversations about my scar from strangers who walk up and glibly ask me stupid shit like, “Where’d you get the tattoo?” He had a pronounced limp, I didn’t walk up to him at any point during dad’s stay and say, “Dude! Where’d you get that limp?”
Then today we were eating lunch at the diner after my doctor appointment and an older woman walked up to me and asked me if I was in chemo. I told her no and went back to eating because I sort of wanted the conversation to end there but she went on to tell me about this local hairdresser, Martino who gives away wigs. I politely told her I knew about him and again hoped she’d go on her merry way but she continued talking, telling me she’d had breast cancer and lung cancer and that she’s a two time survivor. I offered niceties and went back to eating and still she continued on asking me about my cancer, wrongly assuming that I have breast cancer because of my pink scarf. I told her a brief version of my story and said I was two years cancer-free (and I just know she was dying to ask me how I’m still bald if I’m two years cancer-free) before she finally left our table but not before grabbing my shoulder and saying, “God bless you.” The “God bless you” was what sent the whole thing over the edge, I don’t want to feel pitied and she was the second person to do it in two weeks. The social worker said to me as he was walking away, “Wow, you do good for being here all day [after having had brain surgery.]” ß the part in brackets was implied by the look in his eyes.
Now I know the social worker didn’t mean any harm and I know the woman today just wanted to let me know where to get a free wig but I don’t want to be a circus animal (I don’t like to be on display on my very best days) and I don’t want to be the cancer patient poster child. Sometimes I want to sit down and eat lunch with my husband and not be reminded that I’m bald or of what I’ve survived and sometimes I want to stand on the porch with my father and not be reminded that I’m hideously scarred.
It’s hard to feel normal or have a sense of normalcy when you wake up every morning bald and badly scarred so please don’t walk up out of the clear blue sky and ask someone about their scars or their bald head. Those are conversations to be had in the right setting when the mood/energy is right. My reality is there every time I look in the mirror so please don’t feel it’s okay to bring it up just because you want to know or feel like talking.
PLEASE NOTE: Close friends and family this does not include you. If you want to sit down and ask me about how it feels to be bald and scarred and you’re not afraid of a few tears I’m an open book as anyone who has ever read my blog knows.