"Oh wow, you cut your hair short!"
Um... no. I'm not exactly the most outgoing, public person, but I've been eating, sleeping and breathing cancer for almost a year, so it's a little shocking to me when I see someone I know and *they* don't know. It seems like everyone in my world would know. The town I grew up in is Smalltown USA at its best, where everyone knows everyone. And the town I live in now? It's like three degrees of separation and the gossip mill tends to run rampant.
The person who asked about my hair on vacation was a friend from school. I've known her since I was about eight, and we were really good friends all through school. While I only see her once a year when I go back home in the summer, I didn't mind sharing my story with her. I was a little surprised that she didn't know, considering she lives in the same town as my mother (and all the people my mother knows know about me), but we don't talk or email and she's not on Facebook, so I guess it's understandable. She also is friends with my BFF so she was very sympathetic that I'm going through exactly what my BFF did.
The lady who commented on my hair last night is someone I know from my kids' school. She's nice, but at most an acquaintance, so I felt like a deer caught in the headlights when she mentioned my short hair. I told her no, it was growing back (assuming she knew I'd been through chemo). She gave me a blank stare and then I got it - she didn't know. Maybe I'm weird or arrogant to think that everyone that I know knows that I had cancer. But it's not like I have a neon sign floating over me that says, "SHE HAD BREAST CANCER". This poor woman who has only seen me here and there at school was just remarking about my much shorter hair - she's not anyone I would normally feel compelled to share my medical history with.
Now that my hair is long enough to pass for some sort of short haircut and not just chemo regrowth, I guess more and more people who see me might make that same comment. They don't realize the hellish year I've had. They look at me and see Michelle with short hair.... and they don't know! Part of me feels very uncomfortable throwing my cancer diagnosis out there. I may write about it on here, but this is just me talking to my keyboard with a few people reading the end result. Talking about it with everyone I encounter...not my idea of fun. The people who really matter know the ins and outs of my life these past twelve months and they're not surprised when they see me. However, both times I was faced with that comment, I gave the same response. And I'm glad.
First of all, I don't like the way I look and I want people to know I didn't choose this. My hair is too short, my boobs are fake and I'm about fifteen pounds heavier than I want to be... and cancer did that to me. Also, even though there have been many people in my life affected by this disease, including some very close to me, it's something that you truly never think will happen to you...until it does. I want people to be aware. I don't want to put the fear of God in them, but I want them to know that it happened to me, it can happen to them so they need to be aware.