The Long and the Short of It 5

A Heroic Haircut

I’ve had long hair most of my adult life, but in January, I cut my hair. The reason: I learned that the type of chemotherapy that I will be treated with over the next few months is going to cause hair loss.

I should explain that while casually putting on lotion last November, I discovered a bump in my breast. Little did I know, in that moment, that the discovery would change the course of my life.

I’m considering the diagnosis of breast cancer a gift. It has created a paradigm shift in my own personal care. It’s like I’m climbing Everest. I’m assembling a support team, enlisting experienced guides, assembling the right knowledge and equipment, and training for the journey.

Cutting my hair was the first step in that journey. My thinking was that I’d rather adjust on my own terms rather than having my hair fall out. So I gathered some of my team together and we made a fun night of it. At first, I wanted to shave my hair off, but friends convinced me that a pixie cut would help me adjust to this new reality.

I asked the doctor why I would lose my hair during chemo and she explained that the chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells—healthy cells as well as cancer cells. So I have tried to welcome the hair loss; it means that the chemo is doing its job.

The tears I cried during the cutting of my hair were not so much about my attachment to my hair as about how this act makes having cancer so real. Cutting my hair felt empowering and frightening, all in the same moment.

Now that my long hair is gone, I’m trying to enjoy the freedom the pixie cut is giving me. I’m also writing about this journey. As I learn more in my research to plan for my recovery, I want to offer it to others to consider. This makes me feel like this challenge in my life has more purpose, and that gives me great satisfaction.

The name Renee itself means rebirth, and I’d like to think that every morning this Renee is reborn stronger. Like the Phoenix, rising from the ashes, each day we transition into the next version of ourselves, hopefully, the best one in our evolution.

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Renee Ramge is a beloved part of our Roaring Fork Lifestyle team, regularly contributing her photography. Renee wants to acknowledge the great care she’s getting from the Calaway-Young Cancer Center at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. We wish her good spirits, good health, and a resilient recovery.