Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Meet the Newest Member of My Team…

The beautiful woman on the right, pictured above, is the newest member of my breast cancer team. Her name is Colette Simms and she is the hairdresser responsible for making me look beautiful today. I don’t have a relaxer in my hair and wasn’t sure what it would look like short and straightened. Colette did things with a flat iron that I didn’t know could be done. 

Over twenty years ago, when my baby sister, LaShawn was graduating from High School she needed her hair done for her senior pictures. She missed the original date and was scheduled to have them taken on a make-up day in the summer. She decided she wanted a new look and got her hair cut short. I lived in Pittsburgh at the time and just happened to be visiting her and my mom here in Maryland the day she got her hair done. I still remember the devastation on her face when she got home. To say she was not pleased with her hairstyle, would be an extreme understatement. 

I have been able to do my own hair since I was in elementary school. My older sister, Leslie, was always a willing guinea pig for new styles, hair color, or braids. She would let me do ANYTHING to her hair. Over the years I got really good with braids, but decided to leave relaxers, cuts, and color to the professionals. Braids, however, I can only do myself because I am too picky about how they look. Knowing my amateur hairstyling skills, LaShawn asked as soon as she came in the door, “Lisa, is there anything you can do with this!” Reluctant to take on the challenge, I told her I didn’t have anything to do her hair with, because my hair was braided. My mom, unable to stand how despondent LaShawn was, sprung into action. She got on the phone and called a close family friend, Ms. Carol, that didn’t live too far. She was certain she must have some styling products and tools at her house. She was correct. 

When LaShawn and I got to Ms. Carol’s house, she greeted us at the door and immediately led us to the bathroom, where a plethora of hair products and tools awaited our arrival. Ms. Carol, stood in the doorway as I attempted to work my extra special she-done-messed-up-my-baby-sister’s hair “magic” on what remained of LaShawn’s hair. As Ms. Carol looked at my baby sister whose face was on the floor, she said something I have never forgotten and have since shared with my daughters and many other women. Ms. Carol said, like only she could, “Shawn, I understand. If your hair ain’t right, your a$$ ain’t right!”

I took you on that trip down memory lane only to illustrate what hair often means to a woman. I absolutely agree with Ms. Carol’s assessment. I don’t care how fierce your outfit is, how to-die-for your shoes are, makeup can be flawless, nails and feet done just right…if your hair ain’t right….(no need to repeat the rest). I told my family cancer is such an all-consuming disease. It effects every area of your body and your life. I have always liked my hair short. In fact, for about 5 years, the shorter the better. Yet, when I left Colette after she had done such an amazing job on my hair, I wasn’t prepared for how somber I felt inside. 

It is one thing to CHOOSE to cut your hair. It is something totally different when your choice is taken from you and it becomes something you have to do. I am so thankful God hand-picked Colette to be on my breast cancer team. She has the most upbeat, positive personality and extremely sweet spirit. She told me about different things we could do over the summer should I lose all of my hair. What struck me the most about Colette is when I spoke to her on the phone to make an appointment and explain my situation, she said with confidence, “Don’t worry about it. If your hair falls out it will grow back! There are a lot of things we can do. You got this!” After we hung up that day she sent me a text message that said in part: “You are so much more than a conqueror. I’m going to stand beside you and watch you win!” Only God can handpick and place people like her in my life. 

I start chemo tomorrow. Should I lose all of my hair, which I am not saying is going to happen, God does amazing things in my life daily, I am thankful to have Colette on my team to make me look fabulous with or without my hair! As a side note, I told my family if I do lose all of my hair they better get ready because I plan to have a new look on the regular. Colette said it best, “Hair has become an accessory.” Might as well have some fun with it!

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