• Shevelle Copeland-Kelly

Is that Shevelle?....What happened to her hair?...#7

So I cut my hair a day after my 29th birthday. I went to the barbers and shaved it off. As soon as it was told that chemotherapy would be a must I made up my mind that I was going to cut off my beauty. Yeah. Because you know what I’m not trying to see it chilling on my pillow when I wake up one morning or go to brush my hair and the whole thing slides off. Nope. No. Not a chance. No thanks. So let me just be in control and cut this thing.

On the day I met Leah who was the first to know about the stupid lump. We made a plan to shave our heads, yeah she shaved hers with me, she skinned hers though. Beautiful. Proud. Black. Courageous.

Liberating at the time. I am not my hair - India Arie springs to mind. I wasn’t my hair. I wasn’t anyone’s expectations. But I loved my hair. I loved it. Wigs, weave they wasn‘t me. So what now. Kmt. Felt like Brittany 2007, caught in a crisis but overjoyed that I have taken control.

Is this how Samson felt when they uncovered his strength and cut his hair? Strength garnnnn. Even though I felt liberated. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t sad. But okay.

I was somewhat vain when it came to hair, that was my selling point. I never needed wigs I had edges and it could grow. What am I gonna do now that my main focal point has been taken? As humans we underestimate our attachments to our ‘looks‘ things that we believe make us, us keyword is ‘believe‘ strip us of those things. See how you become frantic trying to find yourself in every corner. Looking for ways to still look normal, and keep attractive.

I shaved my hair real low maybe like a level 2 if that’s even a thing and people loved it. Shit. I loved it. I was like a natural empress I felt like the community was proud of me. I felt like all I needed to do was to move to the motherland and marry my Rastafarian king and go completely ‘Au naturale‘. I was so grateful to my head shape for facilitating this change. For the first two weeks after my big chop I was fine, but when I noticed it was falling out I started to feel like a little boy. I looked like a baby with cot hair, it just looked sad. Felt like a fraction of myself. Felt so ugly if I’m honest. In public it’s okay. But behind closed doors I used to run passed my mirror because I couldnt look at. If I’m honest I didn’t want it to look at me either. I wonder who the hell is this? I’m not cute anymore. Well actually I still am....sometimes.

Oh and another thing since where being honest about cancer I lost my pubes actually laugh out loud. I know some of you was wondering. Yes complete hair loss all round.

It got real one day I was sitting in the bath and put my flannel on my head to rinse. My hair started falling out literally. I could see it now chemo had kicked in. My face creased. I then started laughing. Laughing so I didn’t cry. It’s funny really. Real funny but whatever. I often laugh as hard as I can when I feel tears approaching. I dunno. I wrapped my hair in a quick Bantu knot thing, my family complimented me on how glamorous I looked. But I hated it I just wanted to shave it. Let’s be bald now. Because one thing for sure is that my hair will not make it past the weekend. I was transitioning looking like a boy not long left now till I look like the typical cancer patient. Emotionally it’s problematic. It takes strength to get up somedays. I cut my hair previously to limit the effects of my hair falling out in clumps. But let’s get rid of it now. I feel sick looking at myself. Who the hell would want me. I mean my health is most definitely wealth. And in the grand scheme of things the chemo is killing my hair follicles let’s just hope it’s killing these cancer cells too.

Cancer is quite a bitch you know, chemotherapy can cure cancer. But it kills the mental cells too. They don’t tell you that at your appointments. I guess it’s because they are all scientists. They don’t engage with the mind. They just study the problem, reaction and results. They only really care about statistics. I mean you start to deal with the fact that you got cancer but it’s the side effects that remind you of how serious the diseases is. The treatments you go through, treatments that might not even work. The fact that you literally get read the riot act and are made to sign documents agreeing to any life changing side effects that may occur, shows us what we are dealing with.

One week on from my skinhead party and I am bald it’s painful looking in the mirror at times because it really makes you understand what’s happening to you. Im looking like a baby Buddha at present with my bald head and fat cheeks. But you know what I have made the move to embrace. Wigs are long and with the hot flashes in public I will rip it off and probably get my self sectioned. I mean it’s not funny, but it is funny I told my mum Im going fight this disease because one thing for sure is I will not be going under with a bald head. Thats key motivation for me. Yeah for sure, I made up my mind that image of me with a bald head will have me spinning. Its not taking me out PERIODT!

Breast cancer strips you. Chemo, surgery and then radiation! You’ll be cured. Maybe. But mentally your worse than ever. You may become stronger and reseliant and thankful and all these wonderful words that you can use to describe anyone that asks you how your feeling. But deep down the mental health starts talking to you. Waking up will never be the same. This thing is life long. I’ve heard people who are years into remission say it. They fight themselves everyday to tell them it’s not coming back.

But I cannot preempt tomorrow so let me just live for today.

Alexa do me some justice and play - I am not my hair, India Arie.

Let me believe it. I am really not my hair.

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