Tag Archives: cancer shave

What Happened to My Hair!?

I shaved my head again!

I had more hair than I realized.

I had more hair than I realized.

The both of you might remember that almost one year ago I shaved my head in solidarity with my mother-in-law, Wilma, who was going through chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Well we’re still kicking cancer’s bony ass but it seems we have to do it one breast at a time.  No, Wilma’s doing great.  This time it’s my sister Mary Ann.  She’s now my second sister to face down this evil, hateful bitch.  One can never be too harsh in reference to cancer.

So this morning, after going to mass, my wife asked me to drive us over to the site of the big fundraiser we had been a part of yesterday.  It’s for my kids’ school.  It was an Oktoberfest and it was a complete success and then some.  I got to emcee.  It was a blast.  But, being the organizers means that we had to clean up the day after.  Hundreds of folding chairs and tables, pumpkins and potted mums had to go somewhere.

“Honey,” I said, “How about I drop you off and while you get started I’ll run back home and start some laundry?”  She was fine with this because we were, as a family, on the verge of running out of… underwear!

That's how we do it.

That’s how we do it.

I went home, started the laundry, and then decided that since I had time I’d also FaceTime my sister and we’d shave our scalps together.  It was actually a fun moment.  At one point, clippers in hand, I started singing Carwash.  “You might not ever get rich… But lemme tell you it’s a-better than diggin’ a ditch…”  Classic.  And my dance to it was even better.

I returned to the festival clean-up, freshly shorn and excited.  And as I was walking across the lawn another one of the dad’s from the school who was carrying some hay bails passed me.

“Hey, heard you’re all cleaned up down below.  You’re wife spilled the beans.”

I nervously laughed and then said “No, I just did the scalp.  Trust me, I’m good.  And, my wife said that?!”

Turns out my precious wife had jokingly related that I was cleaning our laundry so I wouldn’t be without a clean pair of boxers tomorrow but NOT that I was also shaving my head.

Thank God this little girl still loves me (shaved or not).

Thank God this little girl still loves me (shaved or not).

And it only got better folks.  Lots of good natured fun at my expense.  I don’t mind.  I enjoy at least being the center of attention.  There’s no such thing as bad publicity.  But the best line goes to my son.  He spent the day with Wilma on the last day of the State Fair.  Very late this evening they both walked into my kitchen while I was working on a column for another site.  He looked straight at me, paused, and then said:

“Daddy, did you get a haircut?”

If I were feeling like my old man I would have responded:

“No, son, I got ’em all cut.”


On a special note, please keep Mary Ann (my sister) in your prayers.  More than anything, the spiritual weapons we possess from God are the real instruments of destruction in this battle (and all our battles).  I greatly appreciate it.  She does too.


Who Love Ya’, Baby?

I did it.

It just got real.

It is soooooo on.

That quote in the title is from the immortal Telly Savales, one of the world’s most famous bald heads.  What did I do, you ask?  Let’s talk for a bit.  You know that my dear mother-in-law, Wilma is going through chemo treatment for her breast cancer.  Stop.  Right now go and pray for her.  Do it.  I will wait.

Gettin' ready to get it done!

Gettin’ ready to get it done!

Now that that’s out of the way (and thank you for the prayers, by the way), let’s talk solidarity.  It’s no secret that chemo causes hair loss.  As my sister (another breast cancer survivor) said “It’s a sign that the chemo is working.”  About a week ago I went to Saturday morning mass with Wilma.  Her hair looked fine to me.  So I was surprised when she turned to me and casually mentioned “My hair started falling out.”  She had just completed her second round of chemo.  They come every two weeks.  I’m usually very perceptive.  That being said, you can imagine my shock when, on Friday afternoon, a mere six days later, she stood in my kitchen wearing a baseball cap.  I could see something was different.  Without me even asking, she spoke up and said “The last of it came out overnight.”  She then removed the cap and revealed a wonderfully perfect scalp.

She’s not a woman prone to fits of vanity.  I knew that losing her hair would not bother her.  But I could tell that the rapidity with which it fell out took even her by surprise.  It was time to put my plan into action.  I had already told her I was going to do this.  “Listen, I have to take Mrs. Harvey to the airport [going out of town for the weekend] but I’ll text you when I’m done.  It’s time…”  She nodded and we went our separate ways.

A short while later I sent that text.  “MEET ME AT SUPERCUTS?”  She had my daughter with her.  I knew this would be fun.  I was stepping up to have my head shaved.  I’ll leave the gory details of the shaving to your imagination.  It’s kind of a no-brainer.  I sat in a chair and the stylist did her job.  What was funny though was my daughter’s reaction.  She laughed the whole time.  I had been worried that she might be frightened or wouldn’t recognize me; but all was fine on that front.  In fact, I was quite please with how my bald scalp looked!  I had been a little nervous that my head my have some imperfections (bumps, etc.).  Had I been scared to do this, though?  Not at all.  Here’s why I wasn’t scared and why I did this.

Damn, I am one sexy man.  I almost couldn't write that without laughing.  OK, so I'm not the hottest property on the planet but my scalp isn't too shabby.

Damn, I am one sexy man. I almost couldn’t write that without laughing. OK, so I’m not the hottest property on the planet but my scalp isn’t too shabby.

There’s a notion of solidarity that I believe is at the heart of being a Christian.  I’m not talking about simply sticking up for someone who’s fallen on hard times. Rather, I think of the fact that Our Blessed Lord became one of us.  Fulton Sheen remarked once (and I don’t have the quote in front of me) that Christ’s death on the cross was, in effect, His way of saying “Look, you don’t have to be afraid of death because I’ve gone through it too.”  So I tend to think that those moments in life where we can actually become one with someone who is suffering in any small way are the greatest ways in which we can be like Christ.  I am so imperfect in the practice of my faith that I jump on those moments when I can — especially when they are things like this, things that I think are also kind of cool.  Cool to shave one’s head?  Yep.  I teach high school students.  Think of the awesome stories I’ll have from this!  But the real reason I did it was to show my love for Wilma.  She is one of the most beautiful human beings and I want her to know that she will not go through this alone.  In the past two days I have actually been a bit self-conscious, thought that people were staring at my scalp and wondering if I had cancer.  And I kept thinking “So that’s what that feels like.”  Getting back to the idea of suffering with others and solidarity…  I forgot to mention that the very idea of fasting from a Christian standpoint is all about this same concept.  Yes, there is a disciplining aspect to it.  But if we only fasted to discipline ourselves, wouldn’t it be rather selfish?  Instead, as Pope Benedict wrote in his Lenten message a few years ago (and again with the text in front of me, you’ll just have to trust me) “fasting is a way for us to actually enter into the life of the poor, the hungry, the suffering; to experience what they experience and live as they live so as to remind us of our obligation toward our brothers and sisters.”

If I could make her smile AND give her a laugh it was all worth it.

If I could make her smile AND give her a laugh it was all worth it.

I’m happy with how it looks.  I have noticed that my head is colder now.  I’ve also noticed that I look a whole lot more like my dad.  Anyway, I’ll keep posting.  You keep praying.  And if any one of you feel inspired to sheer your locks with us, go for it.  Just send me a picture so I can post it.  I’ve already had a colleague shave his head just today after seeing me last night and hearing my story.  I told him he didn’t have to.  “No,” he said, “I’ve only met Wilma twice but if anyone should have people show their support, it’s her.”  We love you, Wilma, and together we’re going to kick cancer’s a$$.

It’s About to Get Real

I’ve always appreciated my hair.  In saying this, what I mean is that it’s always done its job as far as I know.  I’m pretty sure it’s kept my scalp from burning and provided a little bit of insulation for my brain during the winter months.  When I was younger, I took a certain pride that only a young man growing up in New Jersey in the 1990’s could appreciate regarding the strands on top of my head.  Higher and bigger was the order of the day.  Then again, so were enormous lenses for those of us who hadn’t discovered contacts yet.  I swear this stuff looked good at the time.

But contrary to what some might think (my brother included) I have never been in love with my hair nor have  I held any grand designs that I would cheat the cruel hand of genetics and maintain my long flowing locks throughout my life.  And in fact over the past ten years my hairline has receded to the point where I believe I could make a decent second income selling ad space.  I understand that my forehead is visible from the Space Station.  And I am not one to ever try to mask the signs of aging.  At this point in my life I do not care that I’m getting old.  I have the most wonderful wife and children who love me regardless of my appearance.  If they aren’t enough, I am surrounded by literally hundreds of teenagers every day who think I’m the coolest guy they’ve ever met.  It is especially gratifying that all of my male students look up to me and try to copy my sense of style.  From the knot in my tie to my glasses, much smaller now and only occasionally worn since I did discover contacts; these guys delight in showing me when they’ve got one of my trademarked “looks” down pat.

This is why I think this next chapter is going to be pretty wild.  In just a few days what hair is left is coming off.  It will grow back, of this I am pretty certain.  Why am I doing this, you ask?  A very special lady, my mother-in-law Wilma, is going through chemo.  This is, quite simply, a sympathy shave.  But she needs no sympathy.  No, I’m doing this because I want to go through this with her.  I’ve been trying to prepare my kittens.  I hope it won’t be traumatic for them to see both Granny AND Daddy go Telly Savales on them at once; but I know they’ll adjust.  In the meantime, I’m going to say a prayer for her and for every patient enduring chemo around the world (especially little children who go through this shit) every morning when I look in the mirror and don’t see my blonde locks looking back at me.  Whatever, I always kept it short anyway (except the aforementioned 90’s).

And finally, just for laughs, let’s take a look back at Harvey’s Hair… and pray for Wilma (and me)!

Clockwise from top left: 1) Mardi Gras hair; 2) age 4 at Macy's with Santa hair; 3) short and standard cut hair; 4) Spirit Week red hair; 5) pumpkin patch autumn hair; 6) 90's black and white formal attire hair; 7) ME AND WILMA hair!; 8) winter dark hair; 9) grizzly, huge, 90's, Jerz hair.  Center: Wilma's hair/my flask

Clockwise from top left: 1) Mardi Gras hair; 2) age 4 at Macy’s with Santa hair; 3) short and standard cut hair; 4) Spirit Week red hair; 5) pumpkin patch autumn hair; 6) 90’s black and white formal attire hair; 7) ME AND WILMA hair!; 8) winter dark hair; 9) grizzly, huge, 90’s, Jerz hair. Center: Wilma’s hair/my flask