Breathing in, raising my eyebrows, blinking slowly, then breathing out slowly while holding my body still for this delicate operation: putting mascara on my eyelashes.
I keep trying different brands of mascara. Looking for the perfect one.
No eyeliner. No blush. My skin can’t handle either one right now.
Reddish lipstick on my lips.
I try — and fail — to avoid looking at myself in the mirror.
Practising acceptance. It is how it is for now.
Turning away from the mirror, walking out in the hallway, she’s there waiting for me.
“I have cancer hair,” I say as I bury my face in her neck, careful to avoid smudging my mascara in case it’s not dry yet.
She wraps her arms around me and says, “No you don’t.”
I’m a littler, slighter me now. “Yes I do,” I insist.
“No, you don’t,” she repeats.
Voices in my head: yes I do yes I do yes I do. But I don’t say that outloud. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it.
We go out. I can last 3 hours now.
Jenn at the salon didn’t blink twice when I saw her after treatment. My hair was long enough to cover the effects of chemotherapy that thinned it and radiation that made hair fall out at the back and left side of my head. I catastrophized: the only thing to do was something radical. I did not want radical.
I left the salon with my hair buzzed at the back to the ridge of my skull. Shorter at the sides and front. That piece of hair that falls over my eyes is still there. There’s some length to it on top. I can tuck bits of hair behind my ears.
A modern bob is what Jenn called it. I see lesbian haircut #32. And it works. For cancer hair.