Monday, October 25, 2010

Write Pink! Survivor Week: Dawn's Laughter Through Tears

In support of Write Pink! Survivor week, the lovely Dawn is sharing her story with us.  Give her a round of applause -- in the form of heavy comment-love.  (Your comment will enter you in a giveaway -- $50 to The Vintage Pearl!)  And be sure to visit her blog!  Here: to get you started, this is one of my favorite posts of Dawn's, although she's just wonderful on a daily basis.


Bald head pix 002Before I started chemo, the doctors told me I would lose my hair in about a month. They figured sometime after my second round of chemo it would start to fall out and I felt OK with that. I wasn't dreading the hair loss stage, I'm not sure why. I figured I could rock the bald head, I would be an example for other young women with cancer. I was 27 years old and I was getting more and more comfortable with myself.

One week after my first round of chemo

I was in the shower lathering my hair when I noticed the long strands getting tangled in my fingers. The more I lathered, the more my hair just seemed to wad up and fall out. I stared down at my hands full of hair and at the strands starting to clog the drain. I thought I would have another couple of weeks. I yelled for B and told him I didn't know how to wash my hair. I didn't know how to rinse it without touching it and squeezing out the suds. How was I going to towel dry it?

I remember thinking that my voice didn't seem like my own. I heard a hint of panic and it surprised me. B came to the door and told me that we knew this was going to happen and that everything was going to be OK. I remember the sound of his muffled voice coming thru the door. I can't remember what he said after that as I rinsed my hair so very carefully. I called my mom later on and told her it was all starting.

The next morning

I woke before B, it was hot in his little studio apartment in downtown LA. I got up to turn on the air conditioning. I watched him sleeping, slightly sweaty as he rolled over to my pillow. It was then that I noticed the hair. It was everywhere. Gatherings of hair in soft little nests were on the pillow and on the blankets of my side of the bed. It was sticking to his face and I watched him half-asleep and trying to detangle himself from this mysterious web he had become entangled in. It was part-horrifying, part-bizarre and part-hilarious taking in the whole scene. I burst into a fit of giggles as I came over and tried to remove the strands of hair from his face. Blech.

I always told him he would get more than he bargained for with me. When he woke up completely he just looked up at me and smiled....and pulled a piece of hair from his mouth. And then he kissed me.

A day later

I sat on the bed looking out of the window and wondering if I was going to cry. My hair was coming out in bigger tufts today. I could gather little locks of it together and pass it through my fingers. There I sat, memorizing the feel of my hair, soft and silky, as if I might never feel it again. B came and sat next to me on the bed. He didn't say anything as he gathered me close by his side. I didn't look his way, I just kept staring out that window. I could hear the city moving around us and it seemed odd. This was the first time since the diagnosis that I was starting to feel sorry for myself. I hadn't actually cried yet and I wondered when that would happen. I could feel the bed move as B fidgeted so I looked over to see what he was doing.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. A concerned look? Tears in his eyes for our sad situation? A pep talk? What I saw makes me laugh to this day. There he was with a lock of my hair hanging over his lip like a mustache. The man was playing with my hair. The hair that was falling out of my head because of chemo. The chemo I was having because I had breast cancer. He was absent-mindedly playing like a little boy.

"" I asked.

I had caught him and I think for a minute he wasn't sure how I would react. He slowly lowered the piece of hair into his lap and I think he may have held his breath. I couldn't help myself and just burst out laughing. We laughed and laughed and laughed and I felt better than I had in days. I took a picture of him wearing my hair as a mustache and sent it to a few friends who immediately dubbed it both weird and disturbing (and possibly traumatizing).

I keep that picture as the background on my phone and it makes me smile every time I see it. Yes, it's odd but it's so completely us. Laughter was how I survived those days of drastic change.


Days later B & I shaved my head. Things got harder and then got easier but when I look back I think of these memories. I think of the oddness of us and how these moments shaped who we are. I treasure them, weird and disturbing as they may be. As a survivor I look back and am grateful for the experiences I had and the way they changed my life. I love the person I became because of cancer and the relationship I have with then-boyfriend, now-husband is so much richer having shared it all with him. I'm full of wonder and appreciation for the blessings I've had. I try to remember to laugh often and with all my heart.

"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion."
-Truvy, Steel Magnolias

My name is Dawn, or in the blogosphere I'm known as Dandy. B & I were married this past December and are expecting a baby boy any day now! I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer June of 2007 at the age of 27. On October 26, 2007, I celebrated my last round of chemotherapy. My treatment was completed summer of 2008 and I have been cancer free ever since. If you'd like to hear more about my story you can visit me at Spontaneous Clapping!


  1. Dawn's story made me laugh and cry. The hair mustache story! I read that part aloud to my own husband :) I am so glad she was able to traverse the often bleak battle with cancer accompanied by someone who could make her smile, laugh, and enjoy life even in its darkest moments.

    Also? The photo of her expecting made my heart rejoice- triumph! Survival! And another miracle of life! I can't say enough how much this touched me; I think it's my favorite Pink! installment yet.

  2. rejoicing in your story, and what a picture to close with! gorgeous, expectant, and FULL of life and hope. blessings on your new motherhood:)

  3. I love your story Dawn! All my hair was gone before my 2nd chemo round in Feb 2009. My twin sister had warned me how it would happen. That's the think about Pink - and sharing our stories. So many get encouragement and hope - and misery does love company and a good laugh. Please keep sharing!

  4. This was fantastic. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading, but it made me cry and then laugh. What a wonderful support system B was to you! My friend has been battling ovarian cancer for 4 years and I hope she can have a happy ending like you.

  5. Beautifully written. Bless her pea pickin heart!

  6. We all love our Spontaneous Clapping blog friend. This was beautiful, Dawn!

  7. I love this post. Not only do you tell this story beautifully, but I love the relationship between you and your (now) husband.

    Oddly enough, my word verification is "dorkings" which seems appropriate given the hair moustache move.

  8. Oh girl that was such a great story. You have both been through so much together. Isn't it amazing the power of laughter? You rocked that bald head! I'm glad you shared about this. I always wanted to know more about this part of you.

  9. Dawn--

    Every time I read about your cancer story I can't help but think how strong you are. I'm not sure I could have as many laughs as you do/did.

    You. Are. Amazing.

  10. Loved reading this, and love you Dandy!

  11. Dawn and B are an amazing couple. I have followed them for a long time. I wish them the best of everything and I can't wait for lil peanut to come!
    Blessings to them!

  12. Dawn, what a lovely post. Thank you for sharing your experience, and the best of wishes for your new arrival - what a wonderful blessing!

  13. Look at that beautiful baby belly! Thanks for sharing your story. I think your baby boy is the ultimate retort to all that cancer can do to a person. Hope all goes well with his arrival.

  14. What a great story! Just like you and Diane, my hair was gone before the second treatment of chemo, too. I was also 27 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and have been cancer-free for 14 years! Congrats on beating it and on your pregnancy!

  15. Our dear Dawn is truly an inspiration ... not only for how she beat cancer, but how she lives her life ... with passion, humor and love.

    I'm proud and honored to know her.

  16. I loved this story. That is so Dawn and B, as I've gotten to know them from her blog. I love that her story has such a beautiful happy ending.

  17. Truly inspirational. I love how you told your story of surviving and being a survivor.

    And now you are going to be a Mother!

  18. Dawn, I just feel so privledged to have read your story. You are a beautiful story teller. And you are beautiful with and without hair. Simply beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  19. What a great story Dawn. I am so happy for y'all and you look fabulous in that last picture. It is almost here!

  20. Dawn, thanks for sharing your laughter and tears...your story. Can't wait to hear about your new little one!

  21. Thank you for sharing your story. All the best to you and your family. Congrats on the little one!

  22. Loved reading more about your experience Dawn and can't wait for Peanut to get here so we can read all about your adventures in parenting!

  23. You are my favorite rockstar Dawn!

  24. TWO Miracles of Life, one very blessed Dawn. Thank you SO much for sharing this post. I love your open honesty about the shock and the uplifting side of having someone so wonderful with whom to share it. I, too, laughed at the image of the mustache!

    God Bless you, especially as you experience a VERY exciting celebration of Life!

  25. "I try to remember to laugh often and with all my heart." This sentence says it all in a nutshell. From reading your blog, I think it's the way you live your life.

    A beautiful story, beautifully written , Dawn.

  26. Dawn, you are an amazing person! I'm laughing and crying!
    ☺ Celeste


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