Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Hair Question Part 2

I have never considered myself particularly vain.  No more than the next person.  Not straining to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.   Reasonably happy with my laugh lines.  Not a face full of makeup person.  I have always believed that what lies within is so much more important than the exterior.  That is what I try to teach my children (who are taught otherwise by so many fairy tales - ugly people are bad, beautiful people are good).

But I have to say, losing my hair was a challenge almost as great as being diagnosed with cancer in the first place.

And it was not just because I didn't look that great without hair.   Let's face it, who does?  I don't have a round face so I concede I may have looked a tiny bit better than some others, but still.

It was just that I missed feeling like myself.  I have always had longish (shoulder length) hair.    I felt colder with no hair.  I had nothing to run my fingers through, nothing to fuss with.  Nothing to wash and blow dry (well I admit that part was good).  Nothing to tie back, or clip up.   

When I wrote this post I was full of ideas for head scarves.  In reality, I never wore a head scarf.  Not once.  I did wear hats, and I was given some lovely ones.  And I wore my trusty wig.   I have been wondering why, and I think the answer to the question is quite simple.  I didn't want people to know I had cancer.  You might think that is strange given this blog.   It's not that my cancer was a secret. I just really didn't want the flash of pity I would see in people's eyes when they saw my hairless state.

So I went with the Big Con of the wig.   And really it is amazing how many people did not realise it was a wig.  Even now, people who have seen me regularly all year find out and can't believe it.

(My Wig Disclosure Policy was as follows: if someone who didn't know about the cancer (some clients, cafe people, school people) commented on my hair more than once (including comments like please tell me the name of your hairdresser), I would tell them it was a wig. I felt mean about this because I could see the surprise in their eyes but I think if someone has commented twice on how nice your hair is you can't keep up the charade of pretending it's yours.  This situation happened to me just last week with the divine girls who run the before school program for my son.  I could see them thinking: WTF?  This woman we have seen three times a week all year has had chemo for cancer and wears a wig?!)

In fact as it turns out I never lost all my hair.  Just about 90% though.  And in the mire of chemo treatment you tend to lose track.  But I never shaved it off.  I just couldn't bring myself to do it.   And it is true it does grow back very quickly.  But the inbetween stage from pixie and cute to normal is just interminable.

I always said I could cope with hair loss if I kept my eyebrows.  Then when I lost them I said I could cope with that if I kept my eyelashes.  But they went too. 

And do you know when that happened?   In a cruel twist, my brows and lashes went, almost overnight, about 2 weeks after chemo ended.  I had read that might happen but thought I would escape that fate.  

I have learned that you really need eyebrows you know.  They add definition and structure.    I appreciate them more than ever now.   Anyway they did grow back quickly.  And eyebrow pencil works wonders although I am pretty sure you don't kid anyone with it.

So what now?  Well, slowly slowly it grows back.  I looked like Jean Seberg in the photo above for about a week.  And now it is tufty, sticking outy, boofy and not that nice to look at.  Or as my mother said, in that inimitable tactless way mothers have 'Why your hair looks just like your little brother's.'  Who wants to look like their brother?  I don't. 

And so I still cover it up.   Cowardly, I know.  But my son still prefers me to have a wig on when we go out.  And the least I can do is bow to his wishes for the moment.

For any of you reading who may be going through the hair thing, here are somethings I have learned.

1. Get your wig cut by your hairdresser.  This is really important and they probably won't charge you for it (mine didn't). They can just make it a bit more uneven, a bit choppy.  Much more realistic than the bowl shape most wigs come in.

2. Do not wash your wig. I haven't washed mine once.  You may think that is disgusting but bear in mind I don't wear it to exercise, and it is thoroughly aired every night. If you wash it is gets that way too clean look. 

3. Do not believe the hairdresser who sells you expensive 'post chemo' conditioner and shampoo.  You don't need it. You hair will come back strong and thick and new.     But do take colloidal silica.  I have and it helps.  It also helped my nails.

4.  Don't listen to others about when and how to wear wig \ scarf etc.  Do what you feel like doing. It's all about confidence after all.

And one day I hope that all chemo will not involve hair loss.  And that will be so much better for all of us.

(Images Pinterest - but sorry have not saved pinners).

Monday, November 14, 2011


A couple of years back I did a 5 day raw food retreat at this place in northern Bali.  I am useless at these kinds of disciplines.  I dreamed of charcoal-y beef steaks and oven baked potatoes every night, and convinced myself that white wine was a raw food stuff because surely fermentation is not the same as cooking. 

And if you can't do raw food looking at this all day then one has no hope back in Melbourne.

(Massage hut at Puri Ganesha)

I do like the pristine clean feeling uncooked food gives me.   And if you like salads it is relatively easy to do quite often. 

Sunday night is raw food night.   It used to be omelette night.  Or noodles night. 

I recently bought this book by Kimberley Snyder.  She of the Green Smoothie I have mentioned before. 

Her eating plan is about beauty and skin health.  I am interested in it for overall health reasons.   Her eating plan is also vegan, which I struggle with.  I did vegan once, and lasted about 10 hours. I know.  Hopeless, right?

However, as bizarre as it sounds, her raw cold cauliflower soup is divine.

I won't show you the finished soup because frankly it's not that appetising looking.  But here are the ingredients and they look pretty nice before they are pureed.

Put in a vitamiser the following:

  • juice of a lemon
  • half or quarter of a cauliflower, chopped
  • half an avocado
  • good splash of tamari
  • teaspoon of turmeric
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • a cup of water
Blend until smooth.  You can adjust the wateriness if you like.  Her recipe involves a teaspoon of miso but I don't have that so I left it out.  I also put in heaps of tamari.  You could also put in some dried chilli flakes. 

This makes a generous bowl for one or small bowls for two. It's not enough food for me so I also have some of her 'burritos' which consist of celery marinated in lemon juice, mustard and savoury yeast, avocado, sprouts and spinach wrapped in a nori sheet.  

Do you have any raw food treats I can try?  White wine counts as raw food.  So does red wine. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


We bought a beach house a couple of months back. (Kept that quiet, didn't I?).

I will post some pictures at some point. 

The house is at Fairhaven, on the west coast of Victoria.  An English friend described this area to me as like Cornwall, and the northern beaches of Sydney as like the Mediterranean. I think this is quite apt.  We have certainly had some blustery grey blue weekends down there.     

The house doesn't need really any renovation, which was one of my pre-conditions.  I have hung some new curtains and that is it.

However there is one room which needed a lot of work. It is the downstairs bunk room, which was used by the old owners as storage.  We need it as occasional accommodation so that we have enough room for the children plus guests. 

I mentioned in a previous post that I love the Scandinavian grey and white and wood beach shack style.  Of course not all of that is really suited to the Australian summer, which does get hot, even down here.  And I think pure white walls are can be an issue when you have lots of sun glare. 

So, here is the plan for the bunk room. If I could do a mood board then I would, but I can't, so I am laying it out old style. 

One wall to be wallpapered in this:

(Ralph Lauren from the Family Places range) 

Other walls painted in Chalk USA:

(thanks A-M - I found this on your blog!)

Bunks along one wall maybe like this:

Curtains like this:

(from Pottery Barn)

Floor coverings like this:

(from Freedom Furniture) 

Other furniture is completely undecided.  Although I have bought this lamp from Ikea because I liked the colour:

And I would like some ticking stripe linen like this:

(via Toast) 

I love stripes in children's rooms. 

Oh, and here is a shot of the room itself just before we bought the house.   This room has a Few Issues.  It has a very very low ceiling, less than 190 cm.  And a triangle window!   And a strangely positioned woodenly pole.  And the tiled floor is not ideal but I can cover that.  Arrggh...

So far it has taken me four coats to paint out that blue stripe. I am by no means an expert painter so that might be why. 

The wall to be wallpapered is the black one.   And what oh what could I do to cover that triangle window? The best I have come up with is a plantation shutter, but it would have to be custom made. 

This is where I have got to. 

Wish me luck! 

(Images (1) and (5) from My Scandinavian Retreat (3), (10) and (11) Pinterest.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A New Blog for Jane

It has been pretty serious around My Pear Tree House this year, what with the cancer, and all that. 

(Kaleidoscope Dolls House, dating from 2002, now in the V&A in London) 

I wanted to do something a bit light and childlike.   

So have created a new blog, about Dolls Houses.  Something my daughter can read.  And something to remind us all of being a carefree little child.  

Sadly my little blog has no followers.   

If you are interested in Dolls Houses, please feel free to visit, and follow or subscribe.  (The link is to the left.)

Correction: the link is to the right.  I still don't know my left and right! 

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