My teenage son watches a lot of anime (Japanese-style animation) online. He likes to tell me about his favorite shows. Around the time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, he was watching a show about a superhero that could defeat monsters and foes with a single punch. The character is very strong with a bald head, and the images of him often highlight his mighty punch. The show is named after the main character: One-Punch Man. 

During my treatment discussion with my oncologist, I was told I would lose my hair. My treatment plan included Andriamycin, a chemotherapy drug that causes total hair loss within the first couple rounds of treatment. I wasn’t exactly singing songs of joy, but more like the song “Bald-Headed Woman” (minus the part where the woman is running around with “another man”)! However, if being a bald-headed woman would keep my cancer from returning, I figured I could deal with it.

First, I got my mid-length hair cut short to make the change more gradual. Yes, folks, I paid $45 for a haircut that would last less than two weeks! When my shower drain became clogged, my at-home barber (a.k.a. my husband) buzzed off the rest for free! I cried, of course. I cried for the short haircut, making my stylist sad, too. I cried during the buzzing, in the shower, in the car, in the bedroom, in the living room...well, you get the idea. I sat on my couch as acceptance began to take hold. Across the room, my son was watching his anime. He looked up at me and said, “Mom, now you look like One-Punch Man!”

I considered my son’s statement. One-Punch Man’s head is baby-bottom smooth! He’s a chrome-dome. A cue ball. Or to be more politically correct, follicly-challenged. I laughed at this comparison. Ding! My inspiration bell went off! If I can be bald and feel powerful during my fight with cancer, this is the guy to show it. I posted his image on Facebook, explaining, “Tristan said I look like this Manga/Anime character called One-Punch Man. Yes, feel the power of my mighty punch.”

I wasn't sure whether people would know how to react to my comment, but hey, it was Facebook so I didn’t have to see their reactions. That post inspired me to have more fun with my baldness, to laugh at myself. I posted an image of Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. He’s a hairless looker! Next came an image of the bald Pittsburgh Pirate with his scarf on – there was my look for the future! I planned to replace the Pirate’s grimace with a smile. Someone suggested that I post a photo of Kojak, a bald TV character of the 1970s. I laughed. It was the most fun I’d had in a while, making fun of my own shiny-new hairless crown.

Cancer is not fun. Treatment is not easy. Hair loss can be depressing and confidence-shattering. Cancer and its side effects were certainly life-changing challenges for me, so I thought, “Why not find humor, inspiration, and joy where I can and make the best of it?” After all, we see joyous images on the Compassion that Compels Facebook and Instagram pages of women receiving Compassion Bags, celebrating the end of treatment, and spending time with others. These scenes remind us that, even during cancer treatment, we have happy days. Sometimes, we can even find life humorous.