Quinoa Shampoo

My shampoo lists quinoa as a vital ingredient. Quinoa. In the shampoo. Seriously. Add kale and goji berries to my daily lather and these curls would probably auto-twist into a protected enclave for honeybees. But my hair is awesome– all thick and that good sort of wavy and blonde (with assistance). I won’t demur with false modesty if you have the thoughtful notion to compliment me on my swingy locks. Ancient whole grains are not responsible for its fabulousness: this hair is still new(ish). Most of you have children and iPhones older than my ponytail. And because this mane is my badge of verve, spunk, and survival, I’m going to be as smugly proud of it as a Prius-driving, composting, “I Voted,” recycler.

A hair post on The Cancerversary is predictable for this gabby gal. Three years ago today, in April’s living room, I learned that my hair would be included, but would be the least of my losses. Breast cancer does not tolerate a reasonable, disease-free interval after which a celebratory remission is announced. And so the previously bald and anatomically reorganized veterans are left waiting, waiting, waiting. After the first year, I was just so happy and relieved to be finished with treatment. Year two found me grateful for everyone and everything and especially the ability to hold aloft a barrette. But year three? Hope feels jinxy, but the alternative is that every ache and pain is cause for worry and restless nights… or worse, biopsies and scans. So girls like me choose prayer and yield to the que sera sera quality of life colored by cancer.

Anniversaries are too powerful to be ignored. Unfortunately, this holiday season will always recall a scary time for me. Naturally, I approach this with the brand of humor only the cancered would find funny in a holiday enclosure:

“Another year… totally not dead! Merry Christmas from the Lees!”

Cancerversaries also make a sleepless night or two sort of inevitable and a drink or two sort of necessary. So I stumbled into a late night bloggy Internet discussion that I assumed was about kindness, but that was actually about race, and I was accused of microaggression (yikes) and white privilege (admittedly). As a white girl who shampoos with quinoa, I cannot imagine what I thought I could add to the discussion. And although distracting, this wasn’t the best antidote for my annual freak out. But I’m as tired of anger as I am of looming cancer. I want feel-good, Christmassy stories, people! Distract me with mirth!

It is an unfair luxury to be exasperated by angry people. No one is trying to kill my kids or treating them like criminals. I cannot know that anger. I believe we can all just assume the best of each other because no one has ever, ever assumed anything else of me. I won’t apologize for my bubble, but it is ridiculous and unkind to rest inside of it and demand that justified fury should be kept at a lower simmer using prettier words.

For someone who enjoys baser language, I am a sucker for the pretty words. I want everything tied up with a bow; I want examples in the universe where we act like One People, and proof that the world isn’t a shitstorm of racism, fear, and cancer. Even if it is. It’s Christmas, friends. Let’s share the good stories. Here’s mine. It’s short:

Year three. You were there in ways big and small, loud and quiet, prayerful and even angry. And it helped. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My hair isn't just awesome, it's gluten free.

My hair isn’t just awesome, it’s gluten free.

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9 responses

  1. I like your short story best, Britt. Prayers for many restful nights and happy stories – despite the shitstorm. Merry Christmas, Love and Peace to you and all of the Lees!

  2. I love your phrase : ” … the quailty of life colored by cancer.” It is so true Britt. Being 10 years cancer free, I can tell you the effect fades with time but never goes completely away. Sometimes now a day will go by without a thought of cancer. Your new locks are gorgeous – whatever it takes to cause that be it quinoa or strawberries, then carry on! Oh, one heads up: when you have cancer in your past, doctors will often attribute any unusual test resuts or questionable issues to a potential cancer relapse. I understand they are being careful, but they sometimes get carried away, and I have even had doctors tell me the cancer was back when it wasn’t. Needless to say they got a rousing righteous blast from me when I found out the truth. If they had the faintest clue what emotions that their statements evoked, they would think twice before uttering words like that. I went home planning ways to commit suicide because I sure wasn’t going through that hell again just to have it return once more. They only reason I didn’t was because I made an agreement with myself that I would do the furtherfollow-up tests before checking out. All may not be as patient as I was. Don’t ever take what they say as gospel unless there is incontrovertible proof.

    Drink in and celebrate your health and freedom Britt , especially during the holiday season that is upon us. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family. May your future always be as healthy and happy as it is today.

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