Jan 21, 2022 9:00 AM

Read time: 2 minutes

Author: Pam Montgomery


Pam wearing a head scarf and holding flowers, standing next to her husband

From time to time, HCI invites guest commentary from our community. The views reflected in these commentaries are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of HCI.

I knew it was coming.

After my morning walk, I sat and ran my fingers through my hair, and ended up with a handful. Right on schedule Day 14 following my first chemo treatment for stage lll inflammatory breast cancer.

Taking what remained of my shoulder-length hair and cutting off what I could with a pair of scissors, I noticed how much I looked like my dad, now that my features took center stage. Then my husband shaved off what remained as I sat on an overturned Home Depot bucket in our backyard.

While shaving my head, my husband said, “Now you know how I felt when my dad cut my hair as a boy, coming at me with all seven of his attachments.” The kids used to call him “Bald Eagle” after he got one of his dad-inflicted haircuts. This went on for years until his mother cried one day and begged his dad to let her take him to a real barber. So it helped to laugh as my hair fell to the grass.

Although I was pleasantly surprised with my head shape—very symmetrical, no bumps or dents—I was surprised, for days, each time I saw my bald self in the mirror. I didn’t shed any tears; in some ways it was a relief to have something I’d dreaded, happen and be over with. But my tentative confidence in my new look didn’t extend beyond the walls of my home, so I filled a rack with silk scarves and straw hats to wear each time I ventured out into the world.

This morning, many months later, I woke to an unusual sight out my bedroom window. Perched at the top of a very old tree, on branches that were appeared dead, sat a large brown bird, much larger than the robins and crows that typically nest nearby. As I squinted to get a better look, I noticed its majestic white head surveying the yard below—a bald eagle!

Somehow, I thought they only lived at the zoo, but here was one, less than 100 feet away, in all its regal splendor. Mesmerized, I watched for 10 full minutes, until it gracefully spread its wings and continued its journey.

I guess it’s not such a bad thing to be bald.

Pam poses for a family photo with her husband, children, and grandchildren

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