How to Shave a Head….

Not Claire...but she looks just as good!!

Not Claire...but she looks just as good!!

This is a subject I never thought I would write about…the thought of head shaving really never crosses my mind, until last week, when a longtime friend of mine called and asked if I would consider  shaving hers. Honestly, it was an  honor to be asked.

Clare and I have been friends for 20 years….and neighbors…our daughters have been close friends since they were in playpens (do they even make playpens any more?), and while we don’t see each other constantly, we know the other is there when needed. Who did I call when I was out of gas? Clare…and she showed up.

Clare was recently diagnosed with cancer….and has been in pretty aggressive chemo, which means that she was losing her hair pretty quickly. She called me last week and said, “I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about shaving my head. And I couldn’t think of who to ask to do it…and I then I thought of you.” Her husband and daughter had already turned her down flat, saying  they just couldn’t…. just couldn’t do it. I totally understand that. So, Sunday afternoon, I went to her house….and saw immediately why she wanted it. She just had wisps of her lovely dark hair, with lots of scalp showing. Not any woman’s best look, let’s face it. And she hated it.  So, armed with no knowledge at  all, we set off with a razor, shaving cream, and a bowl of water. Soon…very soon, it was obvious, neither of us had read Headshaver.org. Who would have even thought there was such a website??

When I had finished only about a 3 inch square area in maybe 15 minutes….we both thought, we’ll never finish this…the razor kept clogging up with hair. After another  30 – 45 minutes, Clare’s husband brought out a pair of scissors and said, “I think if you cut the hair shorter, it might be easier.”  So we did that, and things go a little more smoothly….no pun intended. And she luckily has a very smooth, round head like the actress Persis Khambatta in Star Trek The Motion Picture…not bumpy…her head was made for baldness!

And was it conincidence or fate….that evening at a fundraiser for The Shakespeare Factory in Sykesville, a woman came up to me and said, “Remember me? Eleven years ago you did a story with me when I had breast cancer, and I pulled off my wig for the camera!” I laughed, because I really did remember the moment..a fastastic moment…when she decided that she didn’t need the wig anymore, and wasn’t ashamed of her bald head. I told her about Claire and our hair-raising experience that very afternoon. She smiled, and said,”You tell her she’s not alone, and to hang in there.”

So…Clare…there you have it. You’re not alone. You have friends and family who love you…and you are with a legion of others who have faced the frightening challange…the obtacle course..of cancer, and prevailed. And so will you. Oh, and by the way, you look totally fabulous with that bald head….

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4 Responses

  1. What a beautiful blog which screams outloud of a fantastic friendship. Yay to both you and Claire!

  2. Donna & Claire, what a tribute to a wonderful lasting friendship. Claire I wish you success in your battle with this dreaded disease. Donna I salute you for being such a wonderful friend.

  3. Very very good of you to support your friend, Donna! Claire was taking back her power over the situation. See Robin Roberts’ (ABC) story about her fight with breast cancer. She did very much the same thing, and had decided to shave her head after the chemo started affecting her.

    As a woman in this society, being bald is such a tough thing. I actually chose the experience for a while… On April 23, 2005 I participated in a Baltimore “St. Baldricks” event. I had my head shaved as part of a fundraiser for children’s cancer research. I was one of the few women (only about 10% of the ‘shavees’ that sign up are women) who decided to go through with this. I learned a lot about myself. It was very empowering. I decided, as an experiment, to keep the look for 6 months. I never wore a wig. There was only 1 or 2 situations that I opted for a hat, but that was because I was personally approaching people I wasn’t sure how they would react. Otherwise, in public, my bald head was shining in the sun. I had a woman stop me in the Mall in Columbia and say “do you know how beautiful you are?” I was shocked. Come to find out her daughter was a cancer survivor. Of course I explained that I wasn’t a cancer patient, but that I had started this process as a support for children’s cancer research……..

    Only funny side effect is that once I had grown my hair out, I actually went to the Jose Eber salon in Beverly Hills. Decided to shock Jose himself with a picture from those bald days. The reaction was priceless. 🙂

    Tell Claire that it’s ok to be in public as she doesn’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed about the bald head. She’s ok as she is. She doesn’t have to hide. Just focus on her day to to day tasks, and don’t think about the fact that she’s bald. If she’s comfortable within herself, people will be more comfortable, too.

  4. I just had to say…thanks for making me cry! It’s so rare that you find friendships strong enough to last through such tough times.

    My best friend’s son was diagnosed with Leukimia at age 6. He underwent chemo treatments, too, and lost his hair. One night, while taking a bath, his mother walked in and noticed his hair was falling out in the bath water. She turned as she started to tear up, but he looked at her and said “Don’t cry, mom, it’s okay”. The next day, her husband and two other sons all shaved their heads, so they could match their brother.

    Having witnessed the effects of cancer throughout my family and friends, it is people like you, Donna, who are remembered most for their friendship during those times.

    ~Travis

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