Updated: Oct 14, 2020
It was early in the morning when I received a call from my daughter, Samira. In a whisper she said, “Mum, I have been diagnosed with cancer.” I felt as though my breath had been knocked out. My world seemed to have crashed all around me.
I quickly pulled myself together. If I weakened, my family would collapse. Cancer, as I visualized it to be, meant loss of hair, a weak, frail body leading to death. No, I would not let that happen.
I responded quickly to Samira and said, “Shukur, I accept. Samira, the cards have been dealt. Let us play the game to win, we will not pack up.” Hence, the journey began.
In the second week of chemotherapy, as scheduled, hair started falling—first as strands, then as clumps. I felt like telling Samira to just go and shave it off. It is better to face it once than to die a little every day. As if she had read my thoughts, one afternoon, when I was asleep, she went to the salon alone and shaved off her hair.
Then began the journey of facing the world. How could she go to work with a clean, shaved head? She needed a wig. It was traumatizing to find a perfect fit. We found one, but happily tucked it away to be used some other day. We just loved Samira, the way she looked—a gunda.
As the 6 cycles of chemotherapy progressed, the support group was quick to remind Samira that the hair may never come back. I was not giving up. I prayed as I massaged various combinations of oil into her scalp.
Chemotherapy was followed up with surgery within the following 3 weeks. We continued playing with Sam’s shaved head, but by then we could feel the stubble of the new growth. The hair was healthily growing back.
It has come back and now feels like the soft coat of a puppy.