With the Art Bra event only days away, I realized that I had failed to secure adequate headwear for my walk down the runway. I imagined tying a flowy silver scarf around my head and rocking the room like a cancer lady that was still missing her hair. Surely my signature knot tied just so and off to the side would complete my outfit! I headed out to a craft store and acquired some silky silver material to work into a head covering.
When I got home, I trimmed this pretty fabric and practiced tying it on my head. My first glance in the mirror told me that this was not the way to go. My skin looked pale against the silver hue and my ears kind of poked out in a weird way. But what else could I do? I did not want to overdo the blue, and the only alternatives seemed to be either a wig (too itchy with the hot flashes) or nothing at all, as in no covering the head, as in baring it all in the name of fundraising.
(I know there are some of you out there that don’t care about losing your hair. “Screw what the world thinks,” you bravely say, “being diagnosed with cancer means you can do whatever you want.” But for me, being diagnosed with cancer is not an excuse to look sick. I have worn make-up, perfume, and matching earrings every day of my Cancer Yuck. I even took scented lotion and perfume when I went to the hospital for my mastectomy.)
When I arrived at the venue for the event, I was excited, nervous, giddy, scared, happy, curious, and full of caffeine. A dear friend from school was there as a volunteer, and having a familiar face in the building was comforting. While waiting for my make-up and hair time, I started talking to this friend and one of the beautiful event emcees. I spoke about my silver scarf problem and asked if I should just leave it in the bag and bare my current hair. Both ladies told me to do what I felt was right. Well, deep down in the part of my heart that knows what’s RIGHT, I knew that an uncovered head was the best choice. When it was my turn for hair, I tore my current scarf and asked the hair stylist if there was anything he could do with my stubble. He added some shine and sent me over to the make-up man. This gentleman worked my face until I was unrecognizable–pretty pink lipstick, fabulous eyeshadow, and gorgeous false eyelashes. When I saw the work that had been done I started to tear up, only for the make-up people to yell, “Don’t cry! You’ll ruin the make-up!”
Soon it was time for us models to line up for our runway walk. Once again, my dear work friend stopped by to ask if I needed anything. People, I have to be honest here…I asked for a little “liquid courage”. She delivered, and soon I was feeling a little more relaxed about my stage walk.
Finally, the show began. Brave woman after brave woman graced the runway, each with poise, elegance, and attitude. I began to feel nervous and turned to some of the ladies around me. “I can’t do this!” I bemoaned. “I don’t have my head covered! I’ll look strange!” One woman grabbed me by my arms, looked into my eyes and said, “You can do this.” She pointed at my head. “This is who you are right now. Own it.” Wow. What an awesome lady. She knew exactly what I needed to hear. When it was my turn to work the crowd, I did it with confidence. I did it with who I was at that moment–a woman who was diagnosed with cancer, faced two surgeries, endured chemotherapy, underwent radiation, and was still able to wear ridiculously high heels. This moment was truly empowering. The cheers in the room went straight to my heart and I felt so alive!
It is amazing to me that this even touched me so deeply. It is further amazing that all my doctors were there. My medical oncologist, my radiation oncologist, and my plastic surgeon all came. Every one of them expressed awe in discovering that I had the guts to get on the stage. My husband was there for me too, and of course, he shared a couple “beverages” with the docs. Jeremy is so good at that kind of thing.
The Breast Cancer Resource Center raised more money than they expected with this event, which means that they will be able to meet the needs of even more women afflicted by breast cancer.
As for me, I am already planning what I will make for next year’s event. I hope to participate in 2013 as an artist.
Can a cancer person model, feel powerful, have no hair, gracefully carry extra pounds, and help raise money for people in need?
Yes she can.