I was at Hobby Lobby a couple months ago when a woman came up to me and asked how my chemo treatments were going. I was wearing a ball cap. When I looked at her, I saw that she was wearing a bandana and must have been going through chemo herself.

When I explained that I suffered from Alopecia Universalis, she looked me dead in the eye and said, "Oh, you're one of them," and walked away.

Now, I have been mistaken for having cancer and going through chemo many times, but it has always been by someone who was not going through it. In this case, I felt like I was being accused of being a poser.

I was not sure how to take that and it has bothered me ever since.

Views: 628

Comment by Cheryl, Co-founder on August 4, 2022 at 4:53pm

One of them? Wow.  Wonder what she meant by that? 

Comment by Debbi Fuller on August 6, 2022 at 9:53am

Don't let it bother you.  She is obviously going through something life-threatening and she has projected her fear onto you.  Feel sorry for her and wish her the best, and let it go.  She only meant that you are one of the people who have hair loss which is NOT connected to undergoing chemo.  It wasn't a very nice thing to say, but I'd cut her some slack under the circumstances.

Comment by Danielle Christine Moreau on August 6, 2022 at 10:43am

 I work at a grocery store and people think because I have no hair, I have cancer. I've also heard the response "Oh. You're one of them" response to which I calmly replied "Alopecia is a disease too." She was speechless.

Comment by Paulina on August 6, 2022 at 10:54am

I don’t even tell people what I have anymore when cancer patients ask or anyone else- I just say no I don’t have cancer and smile and walk away- that’s your choice to engage or not to. But I find it best to not expend the emotional or verbal/mental energy in trying to explain alopecia to random people, whether it be cancer patients or anyone else. It’s actually not my job to educate people- if I’m in the mood to then sure, but usually I just prefer to live my life without being some spokesperson. 

Comment by Paulina on August 6, 2022 at 10:59am

this same thing happened to me at the grocery store months ago. A woman with short-cropped hair chased me down even though I was clearly evading her. When she finally got to me she say “breast cancer?” Obviously  she was desperate for someone to talk to about her experience. I just said “ no I don’t have cancer” and smiled and walked away.  She said she survived breast cancer and I said that’s great. People don’t realize their own aggression especially when it’s coming from a desperate place. Many people with cancer are looking to connect and heal their emotional turmoil with you - they are merely disappointed that you’re not also facing death also. 

Comment by Paulina on August 6, 2022 at 10:59am

*said

Comment by dreamscometrue on August 6, 2022 at 3:31pm

I'll be honest; I know me, and I'm a reactive me.  Those that can dish it out better be ready to take it.  She was looking for company called Misery, and she didnt find it in you and your condition.  She was pissed that you aren't feeling 'suffering' like she is.  She couldn't identify with you, almost like she was envious of you that you werent in the same place as she is.

Comment by Larry Barbee on August 6, 2022 at 3:41pm

I think you have every right to be upset. 

Recently I was in a chat room discussing who has a harder time dealing, coping with hair loss, men or women? I won't go over that now, but the one difference that I've noticed is that for men, everyone and their brother seems to feel it's ok to say things to men who are bald -- I've been called que-ball, Kojack, skin head, and told to get a toupee, or wear a hat, and many other quite personal things that aren't anyone's business to start with (and these were the "nicer" things people have said. 

The point I was trying to make is that hair loss is a personal and individual experience, and the sex of the person isn't relative. Now I have no idea why that woman said what she did to you. What struck me as odd is that if she is going through chemo, she will almost certainly get her hair back (there are two kinds of chemo drugs that cause permanent baldness, but the overwhelming majority of cancer patients will get their hair back. If she really does know about hair regrowth for AA/AT/AU people is, I would think she would have more sympathy and understanding for AAers. 

As I wrote earlier, I've no idea why she said what she did, not that it matters. It may be that she resents how women with AA are choosing to live their lives openly bald (models, actresses, politicians, etc), and has been told to be more like "those people." And more and more women going through chemo are also living their lives openly bald. I'm not trying to excuse what she did, I think I'd like to know why she said it. There is also the fact that she may be in a battle for her life and isn't open to the "it's just hair" change off attitude. This doesn't make what she said more excusable.

God bless and love,

Larry

Comment by Marie on August 6, 2022 at 4:37pm

I truly hope that you don't let one woman's comment take up too much space in your heart and mind.

I've had more conversations than I can count over the past 8 years about the condition of my scalp; so far the record is six in one day! Like Paulina, I now understand that my scalp is nobody's business but my own, and I don't owe explanations to anyone.

People approach me out of simple curiosity, emotional neediness (as in women who have or have had chemotherapy), or a desire to bond in some way. In any case, it's never about me, it's about them. So I just try to be kind and give them the amount of time and attention I feel like giving them at the time; maybe I can make their lives a tiny bit better for that day. But I've stopped taking it personally and I've certainly stopped feeling like I'm doing something wrong by walking around bald. 

Her comment might be stuck in your mind because you're feeling some amount of shame. I invite you to let go of that and claim your right to be a proud bald woman, regardless of how you got that way. Anyone else's thoughts or feelings really aren't your problem. 

Comment by OsmanTheGreat on August 7, 2022 at 11:08am

Cheers, mate.

I hope you will be fine. Let me hug you, dear.

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