Scarf Dancing With Cancer


As some of our readers are aware, I’m in the middle of chemotherapy for endometrial cancer. When I began, I made a video documenting having my hair cut off in anticipation of it all falling out – probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, emotionally. I had a wigmaker offer me $100 for my amputated tresses, amazingly generous on her part – they’re not really suitable for much other than highlights for extensions. But they’ve been lovingly put away in an antique jewelry coffer, wrapped in tissue paper, because even though I know it’s just hair, I can’t bear to part with them. Not yet.

Strangely enough, this second video documenting the loss of what was left of my hair was far less traumatic – even if the end result is far less pretty. My hair hasn’t fallen completely out and I haven’t shaved my head, because there’s just enough left for a sort of Donald Trumpesque “comb over” so that I still have the faintest wisp of bangs peeking out from a headscarf. But what little remains is so thin that I joke that I go to the same hairdresser as Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

Some people laugh – and so they should. Laughter is the only way anyone can endure such small personal tragedies.

I attended a Look Good, Feel Better seminar where I could try on various wigs and learn how to “draw” natural looking eyebrows back on my face – because along with my hair, my eyebrows have likewise faded into near oblivion. There were only three of us, one of whom was enduring her second go-round with cancer. I rather liked the neon purple punk rocker wig, although it possibly isn’t suitable for everyday. The LGFB volunteers – who outnumbered us at nearly three to one that day – are an amazingly skilled bunch; the woman with recurrent cancer so utterly transformed, I was genuinely impressed.

I do have a wig, borrowed. I very rarely wear it, however. It’s hot, it itches my chemo-sensitive scalp, and I can’t get my glasses to fit properly over it. Plus, I just don’t care. Wigs make me sad – those that resemble how I used to look just remind me of what I’ve lost, and anything else doesn’t look like... me. So I prefer hats and scarves. While fleece beanies do keep my near naked scalp warm at night, I scoured YouTube to learn how to tie a scarf in a way that didn’t scream ‘cancer victim’ and quickly discovered the best tutorials are by black women – the things the sisters can do with fabric is astoundingly gorgeous. I still look like a middle-aged white woman, but the fancy turbans are cool.

So when Ann Coulter made the comment on the “Hannity” show that Katherine Russell, the widow of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, should be tossed in prison simply for wearing a hijab, then – when rightly called out for such a blatantly racist, malicious and just downright pathetically stupid remark – tried to claim it was only a “joke,” I wasn’t too amused. What is it about rightwing idiots like Coulter who don’t seem to grasp the basic comedic concept that funny can often be cruel, but cruelty on its own is never funny?

There are plenty of Muslim women teaching how to do variations of hijabs on YouTube, like Amenakin here, who are all so lovely, so bubbly and charming, they expose Ann Coulter all the more for what she truly is, an ugly, bigoted harpy who has no idea what genuine beauty, nevermind humanity, is all about. So I decided I’d learn how to wear a hijab, and gave it a go. Well... sort of. Amenakin makes it look so easy, but I needed quite a bit of help from my best mate, Terri, and we had to jerry-rig a couple bits here and there. Also, pinning things was slightly problematic, as there’s no hair underneath to protect my nearly bald head. But we finally managed, and I even threw on a bit of slap and eyeliner to make my face less washed out.

You be the judge – I don’t think it turned out half-bad, and I admit it’s a lot more comfortable than I expected. Plus, if I wear a hijab, no one will ever suspect I’ve got Chemo Head underneath.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.