Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Lessons from a Hat
I had given thought to how my family would react. I even thought about how my co-workers would react, but frankly everyone has been so supportive all along that the level of vulnerability felt minimal. The most shocking reactions came on two different occasions at the same location.

“Oh my god! Did you cut your hair?” came the perky, way too friendly, high-pitched-I’ve-had-too-much-coffee-already-voice, from the diminutive smiling barista at Starbucks. “It’s looks cute! How fun!”

I hadn’t been prepared for that question. Did I cut my hair? Well no, but if I say no, won’t I have to share way too much information with the overfriendly staff at my early morning haunt? Granted they see me several times a week (perhaps more frequently than my own mother), but they don’t know me. They do, however, know what I like to drink and start steaming the soymilk before I even order.

“Wow! Talk about a completely different look!”
“It looks good! I almost didn’t recognize you,” the alternate Starbucks shift chimed in unison on my second freedom-from-hat visit.

“Thanks,” I said shyly, shrinking from the attention in a crowded coffee bar, and hoping my next visit would be more subdued (and silently hoping they would still remember to start the soy at the sight of the short locks rather than the Burberry topper to which they had become accustomed).

I am not one to seek the spotlight. I would rather something I accomplished, the product, get the attention rather than having the attention for myself. It was easier when I could "hide" behind my hair or, recently, under my hat. My trusted companion, the Burberry bucket hat, has come to symbolize not just my days of battling cancer, it now reminds me of how genuinely compassionate and nonjudgmental people can truly be. This has taught me to always find that place in the heart of people I meet where there is no judgment, no meanness, no harsh words. Truly, love does exist in the heart of all people.

After many, many years of trying new styling products, new shampoos, new colors, and new styles, I have truly finally learned that it is indeed only hair. It doesn’t change me, only how some other people perceive me. While I have glammed up the girlie accessories and have been tempted to wear an “I really do like boys” button, this lesson has been important. People can be loving and accepting even if they don't know the entire situation. And people that do know the entire situation can be even more loving and accepting than one would ever imagine.

Thank you to everyone who has made yet one more physical transition on this journey easy for me. Once again I know that I am truly blessed. Y
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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