I have hair all over my front, as if I’ve been holding a very long-haired cat. Yes, the great hairfall has begun. I know it grows back, but I’m facing months of baldness and I don’t like it one bit. It’s funny, you can be facing a monumental threat to your life but you can still be angsting about the hairs on your head, the most dispensable bits of your anatomy. Liver, stomach, lungs, heart, brain … these are the real engine-rooms of life, not hair. But hair is all about the face in the mirror, the face in the street, the face at the supermarket checkout. The absence of hair is a public marker. My hair is falling and I’m slowly falling, falling down the rabbit hole.

But as I lose hair, I gain scarves and hats. My friend Helen has brought around a big bag of them. My sister Deb has a wig (from the days of her own chemo for breast cancer) that is apparently a bit Chrissy Amphlett and she didn’t like wearing it, but it’s sounding good to me. Looking forward to trying it on.

Now, Medicare. I just want to take a moment to sing the praises of universal health care. There’s a lot that doesn’t work, that I don’t like, about our society, but Medicare is something I do like. Fervently support, never take for granted, fear for. As we know, the Abbott government is eyeing it off, saying we can’t afford it. It’s true that this health system is, compared to that available to most people in the world, extraordinary, and extraordinarily expensive. When I go in for surgery in April or May, I’m going to have a gynaecological oncologist at one end of the operating table and an upper gastrointestinal tract specialist at the other. I may even have a colo-rectal specialist on standby. Three specialists, among the best there is, all working their diaries so they can be there at the same time to slice out my tumours. There’s a great big pile of money right there. And yet there’s not a whisper of the expense. It’s all taken care of. This care is, in principle, equally available to anyone who shows up with similar problems. Nobody looks up from the computer and says, well, how much money do you have in the bank? Can you mortgage your house? Do you have rich relatives? Reading through cancer blogs written in the United States is heart-breaking. These are real questions in that country. Serious illness can bankrupt people, force them to sell houses, make them decide they can’t afford to be treated. Barack Obama has been trying to change this, but he’s had to fight the lunatic right raving about the threat of socialism – communism! – contained in universal health care. (And yet they’re quite happy to let taxpayers fund their universal military “care”.)

I remember back in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher saying there was no such thing as society. Just individuals and their families. Society shouldn’t be asked to look after you; you and your family will have to see to that. As I lay in hospital a few weeks ago, I watched the nurses coming and going, making beds, checking blood pressure and temperature, helping elderly people go to the toilet. That is society. As simple as that. Here in Australia we don’t have to be well off, or anything special, to be looked after in hospital. Long may it continue.

On the other hand, there’s hospital food … okay, I’ll leave that for another post.

11 thoughts on “Hairfall

  1. Anne Powles

    My husband felt just the same AND HE WAS ALREADY VERY BALD! Can you save some for craft?

    My thoughts and hopes are with you.

  2. Deb Sorensen

    Looking at that link I realise the wig is VERY Chrissy Amphlett and I wouldn’t have pulled it off but it’ll look good on you. Yes, long live Medicare. March in March (if you haven’t got other important stuff on like treatment for a life-threatening condition).

  3. Louise

    Hi Tracey

    Lovely post, like you I was staggered by how concerned I was at losing my hair!!! Also amazed about how quickly it happened. It is a roller coaster.


  4. Margaret Jakovac

    Wow, all the best. if you need a recommendation for a new gyna onco specialist, lemme know , I can recommend one.

  5. Lorraine

    I agree with your view of what society is Tracy – the connection between people in the everyday and the profound, and you express both so well in your blogs. I can so see you in the Chrissy Amphlett do – now that would be a blend of the everyday and the profound if ever there was one. 🙂

  6. Ian

    Hi Tracey

    Very good read, thanks. Look forward to seeing photos of the ‘Chrissy” wig and some of the lovely scarves. My mother has just been through 12 months of Chemo and ended up with lots of scarves and is now enjoying the hair growing back while she is in remission.

  7. Dave Sampson

    I have a pretty bizarre Rasta wig somewhere. Have you ever longed for dreads? BTW is the surgery at St George? A friend told me about a specialist who does a limited amount of procedures there. x

  8. Barry Healy

    Hi Tracy,
    I found what you wrote about Medicare and the ‘society’ of nurses at the hospital very moving.

    I’ve sent the link to this post around all my union members here encouraging them to read it so as to help build the movement against privatisation.

    I’ll be interested to see if you get a lot of hits today.

  9. Hilary

    Sometimes when I’m having a bad hair day I wish I didn’t have any….
    As far as Medicare goes…. Long may it continue in the form it is in atm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *