Hi Everyone! In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I’d share with you all the essay that I wrote which I sent into my Vogue casting call. Here you go 🙂

As a twenty-six-year-old breast cancer patient, I was told that on Day 17 of treatment, my hair would fall out. So on Day 15, I was swept into a private room at a salon to have my beautiful, long, buttery blonde hair cut into an Audrey Hepburn- inspired pixie. The haircut lasted only the weekend – as soon as three-inch-long hairs began to appear on my pillow, I went back to the salon to have my head shaved (which I can now cross off my bucket list).

Although my hair was gone, I walked out of the salon that day with a big smile on my face. A few months prior, I had visited my stylist to seek her help in finding a wig. I wanted to be proactive, to take charge of my hair loss and my cancer. She found me the most beautiful long, blonde wig full of thick hair – a luxury I never had before, as my own hair was baby fine. So when I placed the blonde wig on my head for the first time, my new hair felt even better than my own.

But after a few days of wearing the wig, I had a breakdown – the first since my initial diagnosis. The wig was beautiful, but it wasn’t my hair; the high-maintenance hair I had spent hundreds of dollars on religiously every three weeks to condition and color, that I could part in any direction, or throw into a ponytail when I got hot.

My husband comforted me. Even though he was in the private room the day my hair was shaved, I had since refused to let him see my bald head, even when he insisted I let him into the bathroom each night before putting on my sleep cap. I felt like I was no longer the tall blonde that he married, and that it wasn’t fair to him to have to live with the new me: a bald cancer patient who would soon lose her eyebrows and eyelashes, too. My husband even bought me a brand new wig, which I could tape down to my head and pull back into a ponytail when my hot flashes struck.

One day, a few months into treatment, I began to see sprouts on my head… little sprouts of peach fuzz that were hairs of my own. I finally showed my husband, and a few weeks later, my mother-in-law. Once I showed them, I began to feel better about my hair and myself. I became more accepting of my diagnosis and the person I had become. About a month later, I posted a picture of myself with my new “crew cut” hairstyle on the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign’s website. I also posted the photo and a link to my story on Facebook and Instagram – something I had never done before, as I was a fiercely private person. I did all of this in the hope of inspiring other women to feel beautiful, despite losing their hair.

Now, I go to the gym with my “crew cut,” which is about an inch long (but not fully filled in as my scalp is still visible). I never wear my headgear at home or around our families. And about two weeks ago, for the first time, I went to a restaurant without my scarf.

A few people have complimented my hair, or even thought I never lost it. Others have said I look “bad-ass” or have the face for a shaved head. I gracefully thank them for their kind words, resisting the urge to explain that my hairstyle is not a choice – that it is forced upon me by my life-saving treatment.

I haven’t cried about my hair since that day I first broke down, but it is still a challenge to accept my appearance in the mirror. I still feel like the tall, golden, high-maintenance blonde when not looking at my reflection. I haven’t had the opportunity to go out without my scarf or wig much because my head gets cold quickly in the cold weather, and because I am currently recovering from a double mastectomy. But I hope the more I venture out without a head covering, the more accepting I will be of my “bad-ass” haircut, and embrace the better person I have become post-cancer – the person who is not afraid to share her emotions and announce to this world: I am a breast cancer survivor.