Sunday, September 9, 2012


This is one I wrote a while ago and never got around to posting as I didn't have the energy to look for the old photos. Last night I couldn't sleep again so I tweeked it with some Google images and here it belatedly is at the other end of the 'protocol'. *

Going shorter has never bothered me. My hair has been waist length, cropped, blonde, pink, red, blue, bobbed and braided. It was always thick and glossy with a bit of a swing which progressively got wavier in the back with each baby. So that's pretty wavy.
Back then I would skip merrily to my expensive, fabulous hairdresser in Paddington for a perfect cut every time. He had massaging chairs and a coffee machine and highly flamboyant employees. He cost a bomb but it was one of life's mortgage- free, disposable income pleasures/ entertainments.

Bob Downe Scissorhands
After the babies I returned to him occasionally as he had become a friend through my wedding, his babies, my babies. He was just too far away as we moved further out and too expensive when I stopped earning. Sometimes the Big Fella would send me for a birthday pamper or Christmas do but they became fewer and I began to search unsuccessfully for another more realistic local coiffeur.
There were a few shockers until a good friend put me onto her hairdresser who had been cutting hair from a sunny nook in her own home. Coiffect! I still didn't get there often. Not much point when you've grown it and it's always tied up and you have small people crawling on you. I became one of the six monthly instead of six weekly brigade who uses pear puree as product..
 My OCD oncologist (best kind) told me it would fall out ten days after this "protocol" began.* She was very clear on that. She doesn't mince words in fact she uses real words. Occasionally I ask her to write them down so I can practise them. Words like 'cyclophosphomide' don't just roll off the tongue the first time you see them.

My honkologist moonlighting on American daytime television.
The interesting thing about my oncologist is that she has perfect, seriously newsreader- like hair. Is this because she is a six week coiffer or because she sees so many good wigs or because she is a little OCD? Oncologists often have very good skin too compared to the average Queenslander. I clearly recall my med student brother doing his oncology internship and bolting to have every freckle and mole zapped immediately from his lily white skin while I was going to Coolum to crisp up with the merry godmother and her surfer husband to be.
Here they are in Samoa calling the chillun for elevenses.

I digress. The hair will be going. This is an opportunity to go short and not have to deal with the Fuzzy Pumper regrowth that fast growing hair like mine produces. Remember Fuzzy Pumpers in the 70's where you'd push your Play Doh into a perforated tube person and pump it out through the head holes to make hair. That was how mine grew at the back. If not cut frequently a mullet would appear a la Pumpe de Fuzz.

There are Sweeney Todd overtones here. Fuzzy Todd?
Good ol' cancer is giving me the chance to revisit some favorite do's in quick succession and I remember now that I love short hair. Thank you cancer! You really thought you got me there but you are doing me a favour. (See cancer stomp it's foot here and march away to sulk.) Last week I went for a quick Gwyneth style like the one I had my first year teaching in Cairns in the early 90's. It was hot and I was busy socializing, swimming and had money to burn on haircuts and beer and coconuts. There was not much else to spend it on up there twenty years ago.
 The hair ended up going quite short and Winona-ish (sort of like this week's cut) and then I travelled. It almost got shaved off at a Portuguese barber's when my still pale brother got his head shaved militia style. He kept pointing at it and repeating, "Un centimetre" in his best Portuguese accent. They thought he wanted a one centimetre trim because that's all Portuguese barbers did in the 90's- big coiffure for the boys. When he added in the word 'militia' they finally clipped it.

That is not my brother. In fact, it could be Freddy Mercury!
It looked fantastic and clean and new. We hadn't showered in a few days and were free camping in an old van as you do. I so wanted to join him and clearly remember a Sinead song coming over the radio and thinking "It's a sign!" You all know by now how lame my signs can be.
I chickened out as we were coming home after three years and I wanted to show my new long hair off and not frighten my mother. I could shave it when I got back - but of course I never did. Until now!
So, thanks again cancer, for giving me the chance to try something I had always wanted to but was never brave enough. It may have looked better twenty years ago without the chins and eye bags and crows feet but you really have done me a big favour now, cancer. (See cancer jump up and down and gnash his terrible teeth etc as he runs into his room and slams the door behind him. Good riddance and back at yo, you scum bag, cancer.)
I have to go buff the melon!

* 'Protocol' is the word they give a long, protracted, unpleasant course of chemotherapy. It almost irritates me as much as 'journey' with its ridiculous pretence of polite, clipped control. Just call it 'nasty medicine' and be done with it!


  1. This post made me smile, it's hard finding the positives when you are 'up against it'! I have had my share of involvement with the health 'experts', I don't mean that it in a nasty way, but I do find the majority very patronising. Sometime I get some real looks of pity from them! That can really annoy me! I don't feel sorry for myself, I certainly don't need it from others!
    I can relate to the 'practising words' bits, you enter a whole new world, most of which I can't pronounce, which makes it even harder to be taken seriously!
    I've adopted a very positive attitude to my 'condition', I made my mind up pretty early on , otherwise it's just 'pants' !
    Enjoy your new hairdo, at least it was free! Take care! Ada :) x

  2. One of my friends' mother had breast cancer, and she cropped her hair short like Mia Farrow. It was naturally grey and looked fabulous. Much different from the trimmed bob she'd had for years. Her short hair made her happy too. You'll do great short hair, esp. in summer. Can't wait to see it!

  3. Hairs to hair at any length. Hair, hair!
    Go forth and multipy.

  4. Well to go, Annie. I applaud your attitude and your determination. I have RA and have actually begged my hairdresser to cut my hair really, really short but she won't do it. I don't like fixing my hair all the time and there are days I can't do it very well.

    Your hair will be one less thing to worry about and that makes a big difference sometimes. Love to you and your family.


  5. I enjoyed reading your hair journey. Loved the fuzzy pumper reference, too.

  6. You are funny Miss Annie, I don't remember frazzling on the beach, I am sure we were very sensible and sat in the shade of a beach umbrella. Love the image of us, it is not quite what life is like here, but what the hey I can pretend. I am so wanting to cut my hair off short again, you are inspiring me to do so, only one problem finding a hairdresser in Samoa who can transform the hair from helmet to hip.

  7. Hello very nice site!!
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  8. hi Annie , I found a link to your blog via Jane MLPH .
    I 'enjoyed' reading this post.I love your attitude.
    I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in early June. I chopped my long hair off a week after my surgery - it was just easier to manage and I knew it was going with chemo. A month later 17 days after I started chemo I went #1 allover because my hair was falling out.
    A few days later 90% my hedgehog prickles rubbed out in the bath.
    Another BC friend told me about shaving it (carefully with Schick intuition which has a huge moisturizing block on the head). I love my nude nutt smooth and bald - and I am appreciating it as a positive thing ... mind of :)
    I saved my 4 x 15" inch plaits (measured by the laptop only) to donate ...soon.


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