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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

Sept. 15, 2010 - A Bad Hair Day

By Lydia Pate


As I returned home and walked in the front door, I stopped. There sat my mother, her eyes red and puffy. I couldn’t speak. Her silence spoke volumes.

“Cathy has breast cancer,” she finally said. A torrent of emotions swept over me. My sister? How could it be?

In the spring of 2001, Cathy received a clear annual mammogram and ultrasound report. But a few months later, she found a lump in her breast.

Her “post-lump” life catapulted her into a maze of medical jargon, procedures, and drug acronyms for every chemo combination under the sun. Her initiation into this bewildering world included having a “port” placed under the skin of her chest for administration of chemotherapy.

Then ... another blow. Cathy would lose her hair. Her crowning glory? Her femininity?

Before her first treatment, Cathy and I visited a beauty shop to have her newly purchased wig trimmed and styled. Sitting in front of the mirror, Cathy wrestled with the wig while the hairstylist raved about how great she looked. A huge lump (there’s that word again!) rose in my throat.

I could hardly bear the thought of her undergoing this onslaught of therapy. I wanted to throw my arms around Cathy and shield her from this awful intruder that had changed our lives forever.

One day after her first infusion, she told me that her hair was falling out in clumps. Rather than enduring the distress of finding more tufts, she decided to have her head shaved. I agreed with her plan. After further treatments, Cathy told me that her scalp was so sensitive that it hurt to wear her wig.

“I’ll never complain again about a bad hair day,” she said.

Her words brought me to my knees. How ashamed I was of the times I had moaned about my locks. At least I had some. I remembered a tee shirt I had recently seen — designed by a cancer survivor — with the logo: “Hair by chemo, not by choice.”

Eventually, Cathy purchased some hats — with cleverly attached pieces of hair — that looked like the real thing. They were not only gentle on her skin, but attractive. I thought back to our childhood days in Africa. We regularly wore hats. They were an integral part of our school uniforms, church attire, and regular gear for protection from the tropical sun. Cathy and I possessed an assortment of hats that covered a multitude of sins.

In the midst of my sister’s ongoing indignities, a Bible verse gently, but stubbornly, implanted itself into my heart: “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30, KJV).

I fought back the tears. God was acquainted with every hair on Cathy’s head. He was aware of each strand that would be lost. But He also knew the number of hairs that would sprout again from her scalp after the final ravages of chemo, like daffodils blooming in spring after a long, hard winter.

After Cathy finished her rounds of chemo and radiation, she recounted a story about how her wig almost fell off during a school picture — taken after her return from a leave of absence to her teaching job. We laughed about it and discovered healing in a trying situation.

As I contemplated Cathy’s struggles, the knowledge of God’s infinite affection for my beloved sister was a great comfort to me. I vowed to be thankful for every hair I possessed, even the unruly ones. For Cathy and me, life has become more precious through this unwanted journey. The twists and turns along the way have taught us to treasure the beauty of each moment.

If your life journey has brought unwelcome detours, be assured that God — who fashioned you in your mother’s womb — still oversees each second of your existence. Adverse circumstances do not surprise Him. An unfavorable prognosis does not blindside Him. He uses all things — good and bad — to accomplish His will in our hearts.

As a breast cancer survivor, my sister has had opportunities to advise other women newly diagnosed with the disease. She understands their pain. She has walked in their shoes.

How grateful I am for God’s meticulous attention to the details of our lives. His love continues to astonish me. “A bad hair day” has given me a fresh perspective for each new day!

— Lydia Pate is a freelance writer and attends The Bridge Assembly of God in Mustang, Okla.



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