Appearance is one of those things that defines us, regardless of how much we wish it did not.
The thing is, I'm not exactly sensible. And when I was waiting in line for a half hour to get my hair chopped off (and my stomach was turned upside down), there was only one thing that kept me in that line Although I know raising money for cancer patients and research has the utmost importance, I had already recieved my pledges, and had I walked away then with my hair intact, Roswell Park Cancer Institute still would have recieved the donations I had gathered for going bald. The reason that I did not run away was because I wanted the experience. I wanted, in the partial way a girl without cancer can understand, to relate to every girl who lost or will lose her hair because of cancer.
I recognize there are many differences between cancer patients and me; one, they are fighting to exist, while I merely wake up each day without any second thought. Two, when they lose their hair, they are not on a stage being celebrated for their act of courage like I was for simply getting a haircut. The hair loss experience for them is not glorified like it was for me. And three, it is not their choice to lose their hair. As much as it felt more like a necessity than a choice while I was waiting in line for it to happen, the bottom line is that it was solely my choice.
But despite these differences,, my desire to understand what they've gone through in a more personal light was definitely achieved. I imagine the thoughts going through my head at the time, like "does my hair really have to go?" and "what will everyone (and even me) think of my looks?" or even "will I still look like a girl?" are some of the questions cancer patients worry about. I'll admit, some people think I look weird without hair, or that I looked better when I had hair. But the majority of people(and it's definitely the majority), including myself, think I actually don't look that bad at all. In fact, I'd even say my attractiveness went from a three to a four on the scale of attractiveness (okay, no such scale exists that I'm aware of, but in all seriousness I think I look better bald). And I'm honestly surprised how nice random strangers are to me; I'm not sure if this would frustrate cancer patients or not, but it frustrates me because people should be nice whether or not you have a terrible disease if you ask me.
Last weekend an older gentleman profoundly thanked me, TWICE, for holding a door open for him. I was glad he appreciated my act and all, but considering the usual response is a quick thanks if anything, I had to attribute his kindness to my freshly shaved head and his thinking that I was probably a cancer patient or survivor. Other people look at me, look away, and then with a somewhat shocked expression look back to make sure a ghost or obscence creature is not standing before them. Experiences like these, and answers I am finding to the questions I asked before I had my head shaved, assure me that the experience is one I will always recognize as life changing. When I am working with pediatric cancer patients as an adult, I will be able better empathise with them, and I will be incredibly happy I shaved my hair off in order to do so. It will help me assure those kids that there are a lot worse things than losing your hair, and that it doesn't have to be so bad after all.
Bald can even be beautiful.