Aug 23, 2017

How to show you care with hair

As many of you know, TheMammaBear.com blog is dedicated to my mother, Ginny Anderson.  When she was first diagnosed with cancer stage 4, she was given three months to live. That was not enough time to accomplish her remaining goals and complete her physical life. Because of the great care and expert health providers at Massachusetts General Hospital, she was able to live for 15 more months. That care gave her the time to live until her 70th birthday, receive the remainder of her annuity payments and live long enough into the following year so that her husband could file joint tax returns.

During her treatments — some mainstream, some experimental — she experienced what most cancer patients do, hair loss. I do believe it is harder on women than men. Yes, I know, that is a sexist statement, however, younger women are conditioned through advertisement and social media to be “beautiful” on the outside. They work very hard at it, myself included, getting hair styled, nails, going to the gym to remain a size 4, etc. It is not until we are older and wiser and, quite frankly, stop judging our value on the superficial aspects of life and how much “stuff” we have collected, that we are able to understand the importance of making a contribution to society, care for our families and friends— to love, to forgive. At 54, I can assure you I am not a size 4 and what is particularly interesting is I will no longer be judged based on how successful I am in the corporate world. I actually prefer to be judged by how many young leaders and team members I can inspire and teach the lessons I learned the hard way. To be present in my son’s life when perhaps he needs me the most, to be kind to fellow man and, of course, to learn how to forgive. I’m still struggling with that last lesson, to be honest.

So to make a long story even longer, Ginny refused to pay big dollars for beautiful wigs. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the money. To the contrary, she had stashed away quite a bit. It was the principle, pure and simple. I would like to tell you that I shared her thought process at the time, but that would be a lie. I was angry as the cancer ravaged her body and thought  — “oh for the love of Pete, buy yourself a nice wig.”

Nope, Ginny ordered a couple of cheap wigs online and wore a hat all the time. Her reluctance to buy a nice wig helped launch a new tradition for me or maybe it’s better to call it an obsession. I would let my hair grow to my ass and chop 10 inches off to donate for wigs. Yup, in 4.5 years I have done it 4 times and donated over 40 inches. I do not donate to organizations that charge women for the wigs. Instead, I focus on other organizations, with the latest being “Wigs for Children.”

Now, I have a confession to make. I am getting tired of managing so much hair and I’m not sure I’ll continue into the future. I’ve made my contribution and showed I care by handing over my hair. It’s the least I could do for Ginny and other victims of this terrible disease.

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