I’ve discovered that there are many benefits in having no hair! My chemotherapy-induced baldness has blessed me in several ways:
But the most significant blessing is that my baldness makes my “woundedness” public. Strangers are kind. A few have even offered to pray. My baldness serves as a universal symbol for a different type of sorority- there is an immediate recognition and solidarity from others who have had cancer. I’m given understanding and compassion when I’m not my usual self. I have no need to explain or share my story. It is conveyed simply by my hairless head.
When my husband Jim had open-heart surgery, I told him that I was sorry that most people would have no way of knowing what he had been through. Strangers did not know why he was moving slowly or looking weary. He didn’t receive the kindness, prayers, or understanding from strangers as I have. People were unable to see his chest scar, unable to notice his significant wound. He appeared normal on the outside, so no one could know that he had also been through a life-changing, major trial.
I believe that everybody is wounded in some way, but most of our wounds are hidden. I hope that I can learn to treat others as if their wounds were visible. I hope that I can generously share the same compassion I have received. Could we imagine that each person we encounter holds a sign that might read, “grieving,” “injured,” “lonely,” “abused,” “ill,” or “anxious?” Perhaps then we would become kinder, gentler, and more compassionate to each stranger we encounter. Perhaps then our wounds- and our world- would become more gracious places of tenderness and healing.