Darrel and I sat across from the oncologist, waiting. The tests were done and he had the results. His prescribed treatment? Eight doses of chemotherapy. The prognosis? A 40% chance of living ten more years. “You will probably lose your hair,” he concluded.
That was the bad news. The good news was that there was a hat shop in the clinic. Most girls enjoy anything related to being attractive, and I am no exception. Fighting the desire to wallow in self pity, I hurried to the hat shop.
A gracious volunteer sat me in a chair in front of a mirror and brought an assortment of scarves, hats, and wigs for me to try. The frilly night cap tickled my funny bone. I could picture my great aunt in the dead of winter in Missouri. “I won’t be needing that,” I laughed. “Where I live, in Brazil, it will be a relief to have a cool head at night!”
However, I was not to return to Brazil for chemotherapy. The first treatment left me quite sick, and my family decided that I should stay with my daughter and son-in-law for the duration. Darrel would return to Brazil for three months to take care of our responsibilities there.
My hair did fall out. Being a bald lady is not all bad—there are some advantages! It is cooler. Shampooing becomes a simple procedure, with no need for color rinse, blow dryers, or rollers. Another perk was being able to economize on hair cuts and permanents.
But a bare head left my face unframed, and looking in the mirror was a cruel shock. The weather turned cold and there was no protection from the elements. In short, I felt vulnerable—I was vulnerable.
My loving family reached out to protect. They provided me with hats!
- Darrel chose a perky little pink hat. “It looks like spring. You’ll want something bright and cheery.”
Navy blue was my choice. Its broad rim and ribbon gave it a jaunty look.
- The shop offered one free wig, but it looked “free.” Joy insisted that I pick one that matched my hair, one that would make me feel all there and ready to face the world. My mother-in-law’s spare red wig only made everyone laugh!
Soft black. Joy went through the choice of hats at a department store, feeling them on the inside. My bald head was tender, and she was looking for something that would soothe. A combination of rabbit hair, nylon, and wool fit the bill.
Flannel night cap. I had laughed at the frilly night cap, but Darrel’s mother sent Grandma Haworth’s flannel night bonnet, one she had fashioned herself to keep her head warm on cold country nights. Something that had been worn effectively in the past seemed to bring a feeling of comfort.
- Jonathan contributed a wool stocking cap, not just any old stocking cap, but a bright orange one with a big white “T” for Tennessee, his favorite football team! It was wonderful for walks on brisk January days. No driver could fail to see me. In fact, it became liability as it stopped traffic more than once! Youthful drivers backed up for a second look.
- Joy and Dirk found this one in Disney World. It proved to be just the thing for early morning housework. It cheered me up. It held my soft black hat in place so it didn’t slip down over my eyes while I dusted.
Each head covering was special and served me well. Now that my hair has grown back, I no longer need those hats, but there is one hat that I still use. My Savior has provided me with a special head covering, the Helmet of Salvation. It is not a “freebee.” It was made available to me at great cost. It is a love gift, custom made for me and my circumstances. As I wear this hat, I can go anywhere, head erect, for I am a daughter of the King. No need to be out in the cold bareheaded. I am not vulnerable. I am loved and protected. Because of the assurance it gives, I can lie down and sleep in peace. The only problem is that I sometimes forget to put it on!