Last night my husband and I attended a black tie Gala for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We were there as guests of my husband’s place of business so we didn’t have any personal ties other than the fact that I went to the symphony with my grandparents as a child and have very fond memories of those experiences and I have an aunt who is a Governing Member.
Finding an evening gown proved difficult for me. I have quite a few, as we attend things like this a few times a year for huz’s job, but alas, none of them fit my post-chemo chubster body. I didn’t want to spend a lot on buying a new dress, as I plan to drop some lbs on the quick and my breasts are being replaced in 10 days, so that didn’t make sense.
I finally got crafty and cut apart a dress I had that fit on the bottom, but was too tight up top. I bought a relatively inexpensive sequin top and POOF! I had a ‘gown-like’ look that seemed to fool the masses.
Now, you may or may not notice that I am bald in the above photo. My evening hot flashes have been so robust as of late that I knew if I did wear a wig, I would be ripping that puppy off like an Atlanta Housewife during the event, so it made the most sense to go au-natural. I am happy to say that I received quite a few compliments about my bravery and general look, which renewed my faith in (rich people) humanity.
I decided that since I would be lacking any form of hair-do for the event, I would go all out on make-up. I visited my lash high priestess Anastasia and asked for the works. She did me up right. Painted in brows, contoured, whatever that is, and added a strip of lashes on top of my dwindling lash extensions. I say dwindling because my own lashes have started to fall out leaving bald spots, but for the most part, remained relatively intact.
We had a lovely time at the event, though the huz was terribly jet-lagged and I was you know, cancery, so it proved difficult to stay awake during the 2.5 hour symphony (I’m going to go ahead and say in parentheses, which makes it sort of private, right? that it was actually torture. Just when you thought the dude had wailed on the cymbals for the last, triumphant time, the whole orchestra would pick up their instruments again and keep playing. God grant me the serenity…).
As we watched the baby boomers crush it on the dance floor, this 36 year old and her exhausted date took their leave and headed home. Upon returning home at 12:30am, the real main event began– taking off my makeup. Now I don’t wear makeup usually so I don’t own makeup remover. I was told to use coconut oil which I happened to have so I started the excavation process with that.
About 25 minutes later, it was determined that my god-given lashes would not make it through the night. A code blue was called and I watched as they one by one jumped ship as the strip of false eyelashes was pulled off.
I had been treating my existing lashes like premature babies so they were there, but clearly hanging on by a thread. It is in no way the makeup’s fault, it was just one of those scenes where the inevitable happened all at once which, in the bigger picture, doesn’t bother me so much, but at 1:15am after a night of feeling glamorous, it was rough.
For various other chemo side-effect reasons, I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion. I finally fell asleep around 2:45am.
Upon awaking this morning and assessing my new look, it was apparent that it was full-blown cancer meltdown time. I laid in bed sobbing to my husband. The highlight was mostly my new lack of femininity. My breasts are gone, my body is becoming more and more reminiscent of SpongeBob Square Pants and now I have almost no eyelashes or eyebrows.
Yes, this is vanity, but it is so tightly woven with self identity that I argue it is more than what you look like. I look more cancery now than I have throughout this entire process and I don’t have cancer anymore and I am not in active treatment. WTF?
I was warned this would happen, but let me tell you from the front lines, it is bullshit. You are trying to recover and here comes setback after setback. How does one make sense of ‘recovery’ while in the midst of all of these negative changes?
Here is how I did it: I went back to sleep. I slept from 10am-3pm. Hello depression!!
I am too inside this garbage moment to give you any overarching take-aways. My short term solution is, cereal at 3:30pm, forcing my children into chores that I don’t want to do and planning a heavily drug induced bedtime in approx 3.5 hours.
I am going to pray that I wake up looking and, more importantly, feeling like Grace circa March 2016.
Hairless mole rat- OUT.
4 Comments Add yours
I remember losing my lashes and that was the hardest part, because it was the last hair to go. I was devastated. ..Then one morning, a few months after my chemo was done, I looked into the mirror and there they were…short but so present. It was like Spring.
Hang in there.
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Thank you for sharing. Beautiful!!!!
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Don’t think it weird when I blow you a kiss instead of waving next time I see you drive by. Hugs to you and your family. I know how strong you are and am looking forward to “Grace, Reboot”!!
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Grace – Thank you again for an inside/outside look at Grancer. I know how proud your Dad would be of your major effort to attend that function. I’m very proud of your strength, creativity (dress and make-up), and your true beauty . . . that’s Inside and Out. Ironically, you wrote this segment on my son’s (Dan’s) 36th birthday.
As you may know, Dan & I flew to Boston (2011) to visit your Dad, attended his class, and a Red Sox game. Naturally, your Dad had done his homework on Dan’s ticket broker company before we met him for dinner. As you can imagine Dan was duly impressed. Tom never missed a trick . . .
. . . but this is your blog. Sorry for rambling.
Everyone is so happy to learn that you are cancer free. Please keep writing. We love your work, your attitude(s), and your insights.
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