I wasn’t born bald. My entrance into the world was with a topknot of strawberry blond hair, quickly tied up in a blue ribbon. I was presented to my mother, who said she “always wanted a redhead!” It was to be my “best” feature all my life.

When I was in first grade in Dayton, Ohio, I was chosen to ride on the float in the May Day parade. My teacher said it was because of my beautiful hair! Other small recognitions followed.

When I lost it, I realized there was more than my best feature that defined me. It was bittersweet accepting the vulnerability the chemo treatments had wrought as they killed the good cells along with the bad cancer cells in my blood.

As I stood on the back porch of our centuries-old yellow farmhouse and let it go, the words from the musical “Hair” came screaming into my mind. “Oh give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen … .” My strawberry locks would be carried off in the summer wind softly, as I gently tugged each small bunch, opening my hand to let the strands go.

I “let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees.” I would be strong and survive!

I “let the sun shine in”! And in return, like in the “Hair” song, “I Got Life”!

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