In the hospital, during many long hours alone and in pain, the mind wanders. Since tissue from my hairy thigh replaced the forearm tissue which was moved to my tongue. Would thigh hair now grow on my inner wrist? Would arm hair now grow on my tongue? This was my worst nightmare! Would I have two more areas of unwanted hair to deal with? Finally, I got up the nerve to …
…ask my surgeon. He chuckled and said, ‘I’ve seen it in some men.’ I knew he was looking at his first female specimen! Sure enough, within a couple of months after healing from surgery, there they were. Relentless black hairs on my inner wrist which I began to shave. Makes me think about the broadway Musical Hair:
“Hair, Hair Hair, Hair, Flow it.
Show it. Long as God can grow it my hair.”
The big question: would arm hair now grow on the new tongue graft? At my 6-week post-op appointment, I pursued my long running’ joke’ asking Dr Urken if he saw any hair growing on my tongue. Actually, it was no joke to me when he reported he saw two.
“Would you like me to remove them?” A rhetorical question if he knew me well. He had surgical tweezers in the tray to his right. The procedure was painless. Fortunately for me, those hairs never grew back. It’s not the same for all survivors of oral cancer who have had reconstruction with tissue from their arm or leg.
When I give a keynote presentation and share my personal story about the patient perspective surviving oral cancer, I humor the audience by admitting I have a hair complex and share the anecdote about the fear of hair growing on my inner wrist and even my tongue. It always gets a chuckle. Everyone can relate to a woman complaining about unwanted hair.
When people compliment me on my beautiful thick, silver hair, I can’t help but think of the irony. I had spent years eliminating hair everywhere else on my body. I thank them, of course, grateful to finally be at a point in my life where my hair is a source of pride instead of pain.
As a Motivational Speaker and Master Storyteller, I’m always looking for new opportunities to share my inspirational messages. Your suggestions are welcome! This is Part 3 of 9 in my soundbite series from a keynote presentation in Brighton, UK. See Part 2. Part 4 coming soon!
I would love to hear your comments, reactions, stories and words of wisdom. More importantly, your participation may help someone who will benefit from your insight. Please take a minute to scroll down to the comment section at the bottom of the page. We are all connected – your comment could make all the difference. Thank you!
This was terrific, Eva! Your story is always so inspiring but the way you tell it makes it so enjoyable to listen and learn from you. Kudos and keep ’em coming!
Thank you Katherine – coming from someone who is an excellent writer herself!
Your honesty in dealing with unwanted body hair is such a relatable subject, the additional stress of dealing with hair growing in unexpected places due to skin grafts is something the majority will never have to think about.
So true. I appreciate how you have helped style my story!
Wow, Eva, I had no idea about this aspect of your surgery! You’re amazing to be able to see the humor in it and share that with others to lighten their experience of it, not to mention educate the rest of us. Thank you!
Thanks for replying Debra. I take it as a big compliment coming from you 🙂
I so enjoyed seeing you in Brighton. You can make anyone feel better about their cancer journey. Thanks for all you do.
Dave, Thank you. Great meeting you!
I love hearing your stories Eva! Thank you.
And I love yours!
As a dental hygienist for 44 years I found this extremely interesting. I never thought about a tissue graft including hair growth at the new site. I would never expect this when doing an oral exam. Thank you for sharing.
Sandi, I have found that dental professionals are often unaware of the intimate details associated with treatment for oral cancer when diagnosed late. I’m an advocate for educating people about the signs and symptoms, and providing information and resources to dental professionals to help educate patients. Thanks for your contribution here.
I had the honor and privilege of attending your motivational storytelling presentation in Edison New Jersey. I remember you talking about this topic and dancing in my seat when you started to sing ! But, it is so true that doctors are unaware of some of the symptoms their patients are experiencing. You helped me in so many ways to get through my oral cancer. All your suggestions of what to eat, how to take care of my mouth during and after radiation and your positive attitude is what got me through many days. Eva, you have touched so many lives by bringing oral cancer to the attention of health professionals in such a unique, entertaining fashion ! Thank you !
Alyce, just by being you… you, too bring joy into people’s lives….like you have in mine!