In the noisy drink shop, I leaned towards the woman in front of me and said near her ear, “Bald is Beautiful!”
She was a little surprised and emotions swirled on her face as she registered my comment, then turned with a smile and said, “Thank you.”
She truly was beautiful. And she was very bald. We were in a mall in an area of fashionable and opulent people, where women monthly spend more money to tan and tweeze, primp and pamper, trim and accessorize than I spent on my first car. She had the guts to dress up, put on lipstick and brave her baldness.
“Wigs are so uncomfortable, scratchy and warm in the heat,” I said. “I like seeing you going for comfort.”
“Yea, my sons encouraged me to stop worrying about it and just go natural.”
“Where are you at in your cancer treatment?” I asked. “I was just declared cancer free after ten years of thyroid cancer.”
With quivering lips and a catch in her voice she answered, “Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I’ve been fighting three and a half years.”
Her raw emotion illustrated the truth my question made her face, again. We both knew what she was really saying. She has suffered for three and a half years through surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and medication. With Stage IV cancer, to suffer through treatment is to be alive. When the suffering is over, usually so is your life. I knew the statistics.
What do you say to the stranger who is standing in line who might die, knowing you’re going to live?
“What’s your name? I’d like to pray for you,” I said.
“My name is Lynn,” she answered. She talked a little more about her cancer and ended with “and I just thank the Lord.” Not many people talk about malignant cancer and thankfulness in the same sentence.
“Oh, are you a Christian?”
“Yes, I am,” my bald friend answered. “And I couldn’t have gotten through this if it weren’t for the Lord.”
“I agree,” I empathized. “I’m a Christian, too, but I have the issue of Survivor’s Guilt. I’m going to live and several of my friends have died.”
I almost couldn’t handle the words as I shared them with my beautiful new friend.
The lined moved forward and she placed her order. Then she turned back towards me, placed a hand on my arm and repeated, “I don’t know how people go through this without the Lord. It’s been so hard.”
“I know,” I agreed. “I’ve learned so much about suffering and am thankful at the end of all of this all, we have eternal life. Life on earth is hard… and short…but then we get to go to Heaven.”
The teenage cashier joined in our conversation by asking Lynn, “Are you a Fighter or a Survivor?” After Lynn answered, she explained, “My best friend has cancer, I take her to her chemo every Monday.” My heart ached for the young teen suffering through cancer, but felt thankful joy for the faithfulness of her loving friend. Both would be forever changed by cancer.
The conversation continued as we moved through the line and when it naturally ended, Lynn and I hugged in the line. We knew we’d see each other again…in Heaven.
Since that day I’ve thought about this divine appointment many times, and when I think of Lynn I pray for her and her family. I pray she’ll be in that small percentage that survives this cancer.
Cancer changes everything.
It makes a 60+ year old woman baldly and boldly face death sooner than she planned.
It makes a 49 year old woman face life without the things ten years of cancer took from her.
It makes a teenager compassionate and engage in the conversation of a Fighter and a Survivor fellowshipping about cancer’s reality of life and death.
But going out in public bald is more than just a statement about defying social expectations of beauty. Lynn probably had other conversations during the day that reminded her again and again –
She has Stage IV cancer,
But, she has Jesus.
She may die from this cancer…
But, she’s going to Heaven.
Lynn is facing malignant cancer with courage and faith. She didn’t hesitate to share her joys and sorrows, and thanked and praised the Lord for His goodness to her. In less than five minutes she made a profound impact on my life.
She was bald.
And she was very, very beautiful.
I received permission to use the above photo and logo from a website “Bald is Beautiful.” This is their mission statement:
Bald is Beautiful wants to help promote strength, empowerment, and beauty for people who are battling cancer.
Bald truly is beautiful, and we are here to help spread the word. We are raising money that will not go into a “pot” but instead go to the people who are currently fighting this battle.
We hope to bring joy, laughter, and hope that not all is lost, except maybe a little hair!