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!


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