Column: If you don’t have a choice

The decision was taken with a brush and hairdryer in my hand: my long hair should go.

The 15 to 20 minutes wasted on grooming and styling long, curly hair every morning had taken its toll on my patience, not to mention the careful dyeing of the grey underneath every six weeks.

The prospect of a planned camping holiday in a month’s time made me actually look forward to carrying out the decision sooner rather than later. Being just days before the recent CANSA Shavathon, the next decision was also a given: Have my head shaved at the event and donate the hair to a good cause.

That would be cool, would it not? At the same time a generous gesture, I thought.

Of course I had doubts. Even when sitting down in the chair with the Shavathon cloak neatly wrapped around me, I still considered asking for a brightly sprayed head instead.

It was then when I realised that my friends who had died of dreaded cancerous diseases did not have the luxury of such a choice at all. They did not plan to go to a doctor or hospital as I planned to go on holiday, they were forced because they were very ill. They did not have time to ponder and reconsider their options.

Time could make the difference between life and death.

They did not have the choice between a brightly coloured or shaven head. The latter was often inevitable. Too bad if they were embarrassed by showing a bald head in public, there was no other option.

Friends and acquaintances praised me for my guts and even complimented me on the hip new hairstyle, quite undeservedly I felt, while acknowledging the compliments. What value had this bit of guts against the courage to fight for your life against an enemy living inside your body?

After my hair was bound in little strands and carefully bagged by the CANSA official, I was presented with a certificate of recognition. The kind token of appreciation from CANSA is definitely appreciated by me too. I do hope that a wig with a few strands of my hair in it will make another woman somewhere feel better about her plight one day.

Back home, when putting the certificate in my bottom drawer, my eye caught another souvenir. A printout of my favourite image from the Peanuts comic strip.

It depicts Charlie Brown philosophically remarking that all of us would die someday, upon which Snoopy counters, “True, but on all the other days we will not.”

  AUTHOR
Mariana Balt
Editor

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