Some say laughter is the best medicine. For osteogenic sarcoma in the femur apparently the best medicine is Adriamyasin, Cisplatin, and Methotrexate. At least that’s what the doctor said. The fact that the medicine would kill my cancer, my hair follicles, and potentially my reproductive organs, caused me to quickly realize that the fella who said “laughter is the best medicine” was actually onto something.
After the second treatment my hair started to fall out. I went to have it cut short in hopes of preserving as much as possible for as long as possible. I didn't mind the cut, mostly because it was necessary. As my energy level receded with my hairline, I decided I had enough of both to spend some time at the county fair. This was the best chance for teens to see one another during the summer and I longed for socialization.
I thought, “Maybe being brave enough to go out with super short hair will prepare me for having to bare a bald head some day.”
As it turned out I didn’t see any of my friends there. I did ride the swings. They took me around and around, the wind blowing across my face. I wondered if hair was actually flying from my head with the force of the breeze running through it. If it did, it wasn’t noticeable. I couldn’t stand this slow loss. It was a special kind of torture. I decided it would all be gone by nightfall one way or another. I would see to it.
I’ve always had a good sense of humor. I try to be funny, to draw the laugh and laugh at myself more often than not. As a child I would dress up and perform skits based on the personas I had created. I was always trying to invent new words or create new voices with which to shock people and make them laugh. My best friend, Sarah Brown (she was “Sarah Brown” and I was “Sarah Blue” based on the sweaters we wore when we first met) turned out to be one of my best audiences. She always responded to my antics. Though my world was spinning faster than ever since hearing the word “cancer”, I still maintained that sense of humor and was determined to use it to put others at ease in the presence of my trauma. Being a bald seventeen year old girl was going to be traumatic. Now, how to make it play…
I was set to meet Sarah Brown after the fair. This would be an opportunity, I decided. At Sarah’s house I got out of the car, limping dramatically and furrowing my brow to exhibit what I hoped would be perceived as agitation.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
The question I was hoping for.
I responded, “I’m just so FRUSTRATED!”
With the word “frustrated” I put my hands in my hair and pulled out two clumps, trying to look mad, but unable to sustain it, I began to laugh.
Sarah stood eyes wide, jaw gaping.
“What?” she asked, confused or surprised or both.
“Sarah,” I said with a big smile on my face, fists still clenched with tufts of hair poking out from between my fingers.
I laughed at her until she laughed with me.
This was my hair’s last day. Parting festivities included a bic razor, a skit reminiscent of SNL’s Middle Aged man, and much laughter and love from my family. We decided that while there was other medicine to take and other pills to swallow, that laughter indeed is good medicine.