If you haven’t kept up with my story, seeing me out in town with pink hair might come as a shock. I usually sport a plain brown ponytail. You might not even recognize me.
My cancer treatment hasn’t exactly been a secret; I’m writing about it in the newspaper. So I figure people generally know I’m wearing a wig.
Occasionally I run into people who haven’t heard, or those I haven’t seen in a while.
It took my middle school principal a few seconds to place me when I ran into him at a recycling center recently. We both had our masks on and I had pink hair. I always feel the need to tell people about chemo to explain the hair.
Strangers’ reactions have been interesting.
Most people are nice. One cashier at the outdoor section of Capitol Market told me the color was flattering on me.
Others are more curious.
A few weeks ago I stopped in a store to pick up some ketchup. A man with his mask around his chin asked me, “Is that your real hair?”
I’d never gotten the question so boldly. But what could it hurt to answer him honestly?
“It’s a wig,” I replied. I should have stopped there, but I don’t know how to.
“I’m a chemo patient,” I said.
This only invited more questions.
“Oh, what kind of cancer? Is it bad?”
So there I was explaining my medical history and prognosis to a stranger in a Dollar General while he stood too close to me in line. Then he went on about his medical problems.
I’ve never been so happy to get through the line and out of that store.
Then there was a truly bizarre walk I took across town recently when people shouted at my about my hair three different times.
One woman shouted “I love your hair.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Is that a wig?”
I must have stared blankly back at her when I said, “yes.”