November 23, 2009

Hair today, donate tomorrow

After 22 months, and countless brushing, combing, shampooing, conditioning of the hair flowing down my back, I am set to donate a 9-inch ponytail. It's made of my hair, for women who have cancer, and will be sent to Pantene for a program that makes wigs for cancer patients.

The ponytail, as requested, is properly tied, and resting in a Ziplock bag, waiting for me to mail it off. Given that my medical merry-go-round won't stop until after I have surgery next week, I'm waiting for the pathology report before mailing it off.

This way, I won't need it. Call me superstitious, but that's my nature: hedge your bets when you can, especially if irony is an overriding element in the entire event. Donating my hair is as close as I've come to volunteering a little part of me for someone else. Have I ever given blood?

Let's see: until I was 40+, I weighed under 100 pounds, and the minimum weight is 115. By the time I got to that weight, the chemicals in my blood alone would render it useless to anyone who wasn't prone to depression, migraines, anxiety, high cholesterol, and osteopenia. So there's not much call for that.

But the hair: it took on a life of its own as I tended it these past few months. It required lots and lots of maintenance, something I will not miss. Shorter hair is easier -- into the shower and out again, without a lengthy battle with knots and tangles.

This would be my pink ribbon, the real badge I've been wearing to honor my friend Dona. I think she would prefer it to my buying a pink bra for breast cancer month. Dona died at the end of October, 2007, and by January 2008, I had set out on my hair project.

Alice will be uploading photos to Facebook, that spot in the world where most of her friends live now -- before, during and after shots, carefully taken by one of The Three Sisters. That is, after her surgery.

Surgery is set for next week, and two of the three sisters have appointed themselves my health care advocate and brains. They have been to the surgeon with me, asked all the pertinent questions (they know this drill all too well), and will babysit my mom when I am on the table.

At this point, I don't want to know anymore about this surgery except that it will be over a week from now, and I will be in some drugged-up state at this time 7 days from now, and the drugs probably won't include nicotine.

That one, I will miss a lot. It's been my friend for a long time. Back when Dona was alive, we went to dinner in D.C., and I was amazed to find smoking sections in the restaurants, when Mayor Mike had scuttled that possibility in Wonderland. And she didn't care -- her cancer was her own, and that was plenty to contend with.

As for weed, Dona was all for it. Medicinal or not, that was, in part, how she got by. The rest of how she got by, mostly I don't know. What I do know is, I grew my hair in her memory, and soon, it will belong to someone else, someone I don't know.

I think of my donation as a gift more valuable than money -- I don't miss long hair; the ponytail is probably not an appropriate middle-age 'do, not that I have much to do with styling and shaping and applying product to keep hair from moving.

I am happy to retire the big hair clip, the only one that held all my hair in a bun all summer into fall. I am hoping someone will benefit from this tiny part of me, and that wherever Dona is, she will know I was thinking of her.

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