The wig I hope I never wear again

When I had breast cancer, it helped me feel normal. Now, I keep it in the closet as a reminder of how far I've come

Topics: One Person's Trash, Breast cancer, Life stories,

The wig I hope I never wear againA photo of the author's wig

Breast cancer is stored on the top shelf of my closet, inside a box, where I don’t have to look at it. Most days I don’t even think about it.

It comes in the form of a wig.

Not just any old wig, a beautiful, custom-made, human hair wig that fit perfectly over my smooth bald head for nearly a year, giving the false impression to the world that I was in good health with my own mane of beautiful blond hair.

When a friend was diagnosed (the first in a series of six friends in four years since my diagnosis), I offered it to her as a gift that she could keep, pass on, throw away or burn, for all I cared. 

She gladly accepted it.  I was exuberant to let it go, like excess weight falling off my body, making me feel lithe, agile and aloft.

Within days it showed up on my doorstep with a note. “Sorry, it didn’t fit.”

I held it cautiously like a snake I might pick up with a long, sturdy stick to keep it far from me until it could be tossed back into the woods where it belonged.

I could donate it to the American Cancer Society or just stuff it in the trash can, for that matter.  I don’t have to keep it, but old wives’ tales run through my head like, “If you get rid of it, you’ll need it.” Or, “If you keep it, you’ll never need it again.”

So I keep it, granting it some kind of cancer-fighting power that will protect me from ever having to be caught up in the maelstrom of a cancer war again.  

I tried to give it away at least three times but it kept coming back with comments about it being too small.  Stupid small head anyway, I thought as I marched upstairs to store it for the last time.



I climbed on the stool, reached for the designated floral hat box on the top shelf of my closet, and stuffed it back in there for permanent keeping. Maybe the fact that it kept coming back to me was another sign that I needed to keep it. Whatever works, right? Storing a wig in my closet is a small price to pay for being cancer-free.

I know this is insane, but old wives’ tales or not, I’m keeping that wig forever because getting rid of it makes me feel as naked, vulnerable and afraid as the day I looked into the mirror and saw a bald woman reflected in the glass, and realized it was me.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>