It’s always going to be there. I keep thinking I can leave it behind.
Last week I told Boo I was going to be at her end of the year party. And she asked me not to. But then she said, “but Daddy can go.” Insert knife to heart. When I asked her why she didn’t want me to go she said:
because of your short hair.
Me: Why does it matter that I have short hair?
Boo: Because the kids ask: why does your mom have short hair?
Me: And what do you tell them?
Boo: Because she had cancer.
She thought my hair was short because of cancer still. As if it didn’t grow anymore. I told her that my hair is short now because I just choose to keep it that way. And then we came up with a handful of answers she could use instead like:
Maybe the same reason you have short hair?
Because she’s lazy.
Oh her? No idea who she is.
But seriously when I thought about it, the truth is that I am lazy. Lazy about hair. I don’t want to spend time doing my hair. I can get ready in 5 minutes flat and no hair dryer needed, ever. But yes sometimes I do wish I had my long, flowing locks, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the freedom I have without them yet.
And I realized that there are things that my daughter will forever attach to cancer. Like the loss of my hair. She doesn’t remember about the hospitals, or the surgeries or anything else. But she remembers my hair. And so I’m torn just for that reason on keeping it short.
And then I realized along with the hair that I’d also never really fully recovered physically. So, last week, I took a big step and signed up for Crossfit. And I signed Brett up too because we can go together first thing in the morning. And we already know 95% of the people there, because it’s a very small town. And yes it’s a little intimidating but I’ll make up my own rules like I always do. The sign that said “no water breaks” on the wall? I broke that rule 5 minutes in. I think it’s going to be really fun…except for snatches. I definitely won’t do a lot of snatches. I’ll be taking water breaks during snatch time. Yeah, you can’t make me. I’ll throw a silent tantrum. Plus I can’t stop laughing at the word snatch…just like I can’t stop giggling when someone says the word beaver, or balls. I had to say the word penis the other day at the vet and I almost choked trying to hold the laughter in.
Maybe one day I’ll mature. A little. And maybe I’ll grow my hair back out. And maybe I’ll be able to climb up a flight of stairs without being winded.
Speaking of beavers, I tried repeatedly to save 2 baby beavers last week. They kept trying to cross the road. When someone asked me what I was doing on the side of the turn to Deep Creek I told them:
I’m saving baby beavers!
I was even going to make a sign that said: watch out for the baby beavers.
And then they turned out to be groundhogs.
Honest mistake because I swear this sign has a groundhog on it, not a beaver:
Dang. I have no idea how beavers hijacked what was supposed to be a slightly-serious post.
P.S. Let me know if you have any other answers Boo can use. My snark ran out.
Dear Ashley, I have been following your blog for so long now and love it! I prayed for you during your cancer journey and move. I completely understand the hair issue. I too am a cancer survivor and I love my hair really short ! However, most of my family does not and I know it is because it reminds them of what we went through. I am torn at times to let it grow long again but cancer will always be a part of who I am, long or short hair. I pray that you will stay cancer free for a very long healthy life. I love your simple life.
Amy Tingle says
THAT’S OUR SIGN!!!!! 😉
Ashley Hackshaw says
Oh don’t worry, I don’t think anyone else wants it lol! I’m going to come back to Jersey and put it on your roof.
I have follow this blog for years now – your story of cancer is not my story of cancer, however, there is always something that you write that resonates with me. Today, it was this post about short hair. I love my latest cut: it’s so cute and SUPER easy for summer…and yet, when I look in the mirror, sometimes….sometimes I see the cancer face looking back. because it never really leaves you. oh, and then there are the beavers…. thank you, Ashley for sharing this journey back into wellness with us!
My Mom always had short hair that was as black as could be. She had a lot of gray hair and mixed in so she died it all. When she was going through treatment she didn’t die it, but then after she lost all her hair, she chose to not die if after it grew back in. That gray hair always reminded me of her cancer. After months (maybe even years) I told her that it was a constant reminder of her cancer. She died it black without telling me. It caught me so off guard after I saw her that my eyes immediately filled with tears. Not only did she not have her gray hair, she liked like my Mom. The way I pictured her before cancer. I totally understand your little girl. I was an adult, yet I still wanted my Mom back the way she was before cancer. That gray hair was a constant reminder.
Autocorrect is so helpful. She dyed her hair, not died. Geez.
Ashley Hackshaw says
Thank you for sharing that! Yes, it broke my heart learning that it’s a reminder for her. And that she didn’t want to have to talk about it with her friends either: having a mom who had cancer. She just wants to be a normal kid and I always forget how the littlest thing can you set you apart from the other kids at school.
Gosh, that is such a tough one! My kids have never seen me with long hair but then again, my hair is short because I’m lazy and anything longer than short gets unruly… not because of cancer. My kids have only ever asked if someone had cancer when they were bald (and not an old man) or when they were wearing a headscarf.
I hope you can find a way to reassure Boo. I’m sure my fellow readers will have some fantastic ideas!
Ha! All this talk about beavers, and there’s an add for Vagisil on the left. Perfect!
What if you grew your hair long enough to pull back into a pony? (after you lived through the agony of the in-between length!)
Good luck with Xfit! Maybe we’ll see you on American Ninja Warrior next year! 🙂
I found that the physical recovery took quite awhile. I don’t know why, but my muscles just didn’t remember what they were supposed to do anymore. Push them, but don’t punish them.
Michelle Culbertson says
I just started #shorthairmom on instagram. Unique kids need unique Moms!
I can’t say any of those words either without giggling or turning red. Which is totally not the point of this post, but just know you’re not alone?
Tell her that you have short hair because you are part of the celebrity fashion elite. Seriously! Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson… the list of celebs with pixies or other super-short styles goes on and on. Or just tell her that you look hot with short hair. 😉 Btw, I snorted out loud when I read that those little guys were groundhogs. Well played.
My thoughts exactly! So many celebs are rocking pixie cuts as a style choice, nothing more. I’m adding to your list Penny on Big Bang Theory, Shailene Woodley…just tell Boo you had no idea she was thinking cancer was still dictating your hair style or you would have reassured her long ago – then Google celebs with pixie cuts and look at them together and let her talk it out. Sometimes kids just incorrectly connect the dots…
I love your hair. It is beautiful and it suits you. I have had short hair for years by choice; now it is very short because I finished chemo in Dec. and only have 6 months worth of hair. I love my short, short hair because it is here and so am I.
Also snatch is funnier than beaver. I am 64 and will never grow up. Your blog helped me through some hard times. Thank you.
Sally Edwards says
I also have followed you way before your cancer. And, whenever I see your short hair on your posts the first thought is “cancer”. I associate the short hair and the somber expression as “still struggling”. I know you are very, very happy in your new life in NC. Everyone loves you and wants whatever is makes you the happiest. XOXO, Alabama YaYa
Love your always sharing nature. Maybe your hair is short just because you like being asked questions/ being noticed? Or maybe thats how the aliens left it?? My hair is just past my waist line, its a pain to brush or detangle. But my husband enjoys it!!
Ashley you rock your short locks. But OH MY. You longer, luscious, mane was glorious.
Now, my hair is as long as yours was and I find it a pain in the ass, such high maintenance. I remember the freedom of having short hair 20yrs ago but I would be terrified to cut it all off again now.
“Why is your mums hair so short?”….
Tell Boo to answer… “well!… she used to be called Rapunzel”
Maybe add a few shimmery blonde highlights (just in time for summer)
might be enough of a change for Boo not to associate it with cancer (??)
Either way, you’re an awesome Mom and it shows in your incredible little
Maybe she could say – That’s not my mom! (Thinking of an old phrase from pink panther) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXn2QVipK2o
This is what I tell my kids to say when other kid’s point out my psoriasis.
janie spencer says
I started running after my treatments ended. I too have short hair because it’s so much easier. Running keeps me assured that I’m healthy and cancer free. Love the feeling it gives me knowing that I’m stronger than cancer
Please don’t ever mature… staying a kid at heart is what makes us human 😉
When I was 10 years old, I suffered from severe hair loss which resulted in almost complete baldness. Being bald was sheer horror for me, and I was bullied at school. When my hair finally grew back, I tried to wear it long, but somehow my hair starts falling out again when it becomes longer than 8 inches. Weird. Anyway, I look great with short hair, and it’s a no-brainer in the morning. Sometimes my students (I’m a teacher for early art and music education) ask me why my hair is short, and I tell them that I am used to it and like it that way. And if I had to care for long hair, that would use up my precious time which I prefer to spend crafting 🙂
Greetings from Germany (where my 3-year-old son loves building beaver’s lodges in his bed *snicker*)
Alesya (@Alesya) says
I’m one of the least athletic people on the planet and out of total frustration I joined Crossfit in September. Without question it’s the best decision I’ve made since marrying my husband. Not always (or ever) easy but I love it. And I feel better than I have in years. I hope you love it too!
There is literally an ad for OB/GYN above this post. I have no words lol. I even screenshot’d it for you lol.
Maybe die it a funky color or bleach it once just to show her that it’s just hair and can change all the time for fun.
I think it’s funny that you prefer short hair and I prefer long hair for the same reason? I am too lazy to get it cut on a regular basis and short hair requires frequent haircuts!
If you decide to grow it out there are tons of videos on YouTube for long hair. It’s amazing how many ways you can braid your hair. Wear it up for easy or braid it!!! Maybe Boo will learn too, it might be fun!!!
Shannon @ Fox Hollow Cottage says
Sometimes after I read your posts… I have so much to say, I don’t know what to say? They always resonate with me though… and I love how you start out to write one way and it takes it’s own turn… the same thing happens to me. I couldn’t stay on track to save my life! On the hair, I just don’t know. I think Boo is made stronger, better and wiser having been through this with you. I’s just hair, even when it isn’t it should be just hair. We are so much more than that. The beauty culture can be brutal. I wish we looked like what our hearts held inside! I think you glow, either way.
Amy K. says
Thank you for articulating what I have not been able to: “Sometimes after I read your posts… I have so much to say, I don’t know what to say?” I feel like that so often after reading Ashley’s posts too – so much to think about, so much inspiration!
You look stunning with short hair. It is so sexy, sassy and youthful. xo
Ashley, perhaps words are not needed. Maybe changing your color back to what it was before the cancer could be the compromise needed to help Boo see you as you were and the short locks will give you the convenience you crave. I personally associate your short, dark hair as a symbol of strength. The golden girl has been replaced with a short haired warrior woman who’s been to he** and back. Ashley you are a true inspiration. Love you! xo 🙂
awww…kids are so smart on so many levels. <3
well, I have short hair because I have stick straight thick hair and it tames it. Haven't worn it long since 2001. I call it the Angry Q-Tip, (you know that one rogue one that gets tossed around the drawer and gets wild tufty "hair"? LOL Others call it the pixie cut… whatever.
Yes- I can't say the word beaver without giggling. But then I went on and on and on to my coworker about the time I went to the Tacoma Museum of Glass and saw all those people working the glory hole. Told him all about how there was stadium style seating so there were no bad views of the working glory hole. They even had several cameras set up to show on large screens so you didn't miss an angle or all the action . oy. I seriously had NO IDEA there were OTHER definitions for it!!!!! My coworker (normally very professional but not without humor) could NOT stop laughing and advised me to GOOGLE it, but NOT on a work computer. 😉
My daughter has always had hair above her shoulders. And a few times it’s been about two inches…. For a while her OCD was making her freak out about her hair possibly getting into her eyes.,.. She also thinks she is a beautician! We had kids ask her if she was a boy or ask why her hair was short… And before it could big her I’d always point out women or teens girls who had short hair and were female, as well as males with long hair…. “Everyone has it the way they like it.” Maybe the next time your brushing out her tangles say.. “I love that I don’t ever have tangles. I like my hair short.” I have so many times of cutting mine off just for the ease of it too.
that’s funny because no kids have ever asked mine about my short hair…. maybe because hers in long and yours is short it comes up? or there aren’t a lot of women in the area with short hair?
replies…. hmmmm – how about “Because she can rock her short hair!” or “because she doesn’t like to curl it” Or because she doesn’t like to brush it like me so she keeps it short!” 🙂
I have had a pixie cut since my kids were born, and this year, in second grade, one of my daughters friends told me I looked like a boy and I should grow my hair long. I had no words. Kids are wierd, unfiltered and hurtful. But damn if I don’t love my easy mom hair. I love your short mom hair, but am sorry boo associates it with the cancer.
I prefer short hair myself. I hate salon appointments, so I end up getting my hair cut about once a year. I get it cut real short, then just let it grow and end up wearing a pony tail for a few months until I decide to get my hair cut. I go to whatever salon says we take walk-ins. I never complain about the cut as I know it will grow. (Sometimes it crosses my mind that I will get a terrible cut and it will not grow back LOL) I am so sick of all the long hair on TV shows, that I sometimes turn the off. I like your hair short. I kind of agree with some of the other comments, maybe frost it or highlight it? Maybe let it grow an inch or so to soften the look? I like your pensive look in your post picture, but am ready for one of your pretty smile. Maybe talk to Boo and tell her how much you like taking care of short hair and ask if she has any suggestions other than growing it long again. I have spent half my 76 years with short hair and half long. Short is so the way to go for upkeep.
I’m a short hair fan (had it that way for years) and LOVE the simpler styling & maintenance!
The fact is, you are NOT the same person as before or during your cancer, (and neither are your family) regardless of the status of your hair. You’re also all different than before your recent changes (moving east, your house, the new business…. etc.) It’s resilience and positive growth that counts!
Also, as she becomes more aware of physical appearance, it’s a good reminder that our value as persons isn’t rooted in changeable physical attributes. (Even though her “job” right now is more about blending in…) She’s changing now herself…..and there will always be some way in which you “fall short”, but keep your eye on the long view! Be who you are!
(What would your Dad tell her (and you), if he were here for a Grandpa chat?)
I, too, haven’t grown my hair back since I had leukemia… not because I’m lazy but more because I can’t seem to get through that awkward stage that inevitably happens when you are trying to grow it out. I don’t think I would have ever had the guts to cut it short..but I like it better now, it’s so much easier to take care of and most days I spike it up to show off ‘the warrior’ that is inside me. Whatever she chooses to say to her friends is fine, she needs to deal with that in the way that is best for her..,girls can be mean Here’s hoping the two of you can come up with some awesome replies!!!
j elizabeth says
Couple things come to mind after reading your post. Your tone is so comfortable, Its like having a chat with you. Love your short hair. People have been known to stop on the Biltmore and take pictures of the “little bears,” the groundhogs. Beaver always makes me think of Saffire the Upity Blues Women’s song Silver Beaver. I snicker.
Snatch is bad, too, but I’m trying to hear snitch, like in Harry Potter. Thanks for the chat.
I’m a short haired European who lived in U.S. for 3 years. While living there, my youngest really, really didn’t like my short hair and was a bit embarrassed when I came to school. He often asked me why I didn’t want to grow my hair long.
I have not had cancer so no bad memories for him. He just really, really wished I looked more like the other American moms 🙂
Amy Pitche-rDavis says
I remember when you looked chemo hair loss in the face & shaved your head… I’m so glad you’re still here
I had/have thyroid cancer & among a Jillion things your thyroid effects, hair is 1 of them. So I went short & stayed that way for 4 or so years because it was easy & my muscles ached to hold my arms above my shoulders to comb it out… finally grew it out for last 4+ years because I was ready…. Soooo just saying, when you’re ready, you’re ready 🙂
You’re beautiful bald, short or long tresses!
How about the simple reply of, “She likes it short.” If your town is as small as you say it is, the kids will soon accept that (and you and Boo) as normal. My daughter chose to have short hair from the ages of 11-17 and had to deal with all sorts of ignorant rude questions and comments about her hair all the time. She hated the reactions, but I finally just told her, “Either grow it out so it suits them, or JUST OWN IT.” She got the message that it was her hair and not theirs and it made her so much more self-assured.
My 5yo girl has very short hair, because she wanted it. And she loves it. But, she gets SO many ‘look like a boy’ comments. She’ll be dressed head to toe in pink and still be mistaken for a boy. Makes me so mad
Such a great post. Hair is such a personal thing, which I have come to realize. I found your blog while I was starting my journey through breast cancer. It has been 2.5 years now and I am 47. I wear my hair long now. I actually haven’t cut it other than my bangs. Interestingly, it has been able to grow long and healthy, something I never experienced prior to cancer. It is something new and fun. I have seen people keep it short afterwards too, which I suspect for the same reason…new and fun. I never really wore hair clips or accessories because my hair was very fine. So I’m loving buying those things now. One thing for sure, I will never have another “bad” hair day because any hair on my head is nice. Your post had my chuckling inside. I too am the same when I hear those words. I have a sewing blog, and crotch is one of those words for me too. ha ha
Amy Anderson says
It seems to be a southern thing I guess? I never got asked about my short hair in Seattle, but I’ve been asked why I have short hair and if I’m a lesbian more than a few times here in Atlanta. A lot of men have also pointed out that they “prefer” long hair.
Maybe tell her that strong women have short hair? Creative women? Or just tell her the truth – we’re lazy 😀
I have been thinking about growing my hair out. But that’s only because I’ve had short hair for like 15 years now and I want to see what long is like again.
I personally LOVE that your hair is short and it fits you so well. It’s hard being a kid and having other kids ask questions you can’t really answer. I figure the more her classmates see you they will stop asking questions. Do what fits you and your lifestyle. It’s your heart and soul that matters not the hair on your head. Love your blog!!!
oh Ashley, one positive from your cancer dragon battle is that you know look at things so much more deeply. Reading your blogs about your past experiences to now shows how much you have grown beond yourself. You are now so much more than your hair. Your evolution is so beautiful to watch. Thank you for sharing your soul with us.
Ashely, this post! I never really thought about my hair after cancer in this way. I’ve had breast cancer three times (it’s come back twice after a double mastectomy!). I’ve had to endure chemo twice (total of 14 rounds over 2 years) thus having to shave my head twice. I had my last chemo in Dec. 2014 and have been growing it back ever since. I swear it’s growing at a snails pace! Our son was 12 at the time I had to shave my head and he even offered to shave his (my hubby is bald so I told my son, NO, someone in our house has to have hair-LOL!). But, poor Boo. I have never thought about how keeping your hair short was a reminder to her of your very scary cancer. I feel like I know her heart and it’s so very tender. She absorbs everything in her path and has her eyes wide open. I’m glad she was honest about her feelings and told you exactly what was going on.
Now about your hair. It’s hair. Those of us who have had to be bald appreciate the fact that yes, it’s hair. It’s so nice to have. It’s nice not to have to cover our head with a scarf, hat, bandanna or the worst, a wig. I was one of those who didn’t feel comfortable going completely bald. I also, only wore my wig to church and nicer outings. Just wasn’t worth the itchiness. We also appreciate the fact that its JUST hair. Is it really worth the hour it takes to get ready with longer hair? I know this because mine was long when I had to shave it (I was 39 years old when I had to shave it). I must say that life is just WAY EASIER with short hair. I get complements everywhere I go (seriously, I have to laugh every time someone says they like my hair – I just find it so funny that short hair elicits so many complements. I live 45 min north of Atlanta and I don’t get any lesbian comments. Just people giving me unsolicited complements about my hair and how cute it is (I’m serious, I giggle because I would have never gone this short on my own accord!) It’s a personal preference whether you grow it back out or not. I say I’m gunna leave it short but I just don’t know yet. It’s a wait and see thing. Ashely, you just do what feels best for YOU. Now that Boo has told you her feelings, you can go from there. Your lovely either way.
Lesley Stipetic says
I think she should tell them you can’t have long hair because you’re a superhero and it gets caught in your cape! You’ve fought bigger fights than most will ever face, maybe your short hair is your trophy of survival. To the many who read your blog & to your daughter you are a real superhero!
Your short hair is adorable and I’m so sorry that Boo associates it with your cancer experience. I would be careful not to associate short hair with laziness or immaturity as many choose short hair because it’s what they like or want. Btw when you look back on your life are you going to say “I should have spent more time growing out and styling my hair” which leads to my snarky comment suggestion for Boo.” Because she loves me sooooooo much and wants to spend more time with me”.
i (40y) read your blog since such a long time♥, i read from germany.
You and your video of loosing your hair is soso deep in my heart, since i saw it. I was diagnosed in 2008 (breastcancer and one boob had to go). My hair was up to that c-day long, fluffy, curly, a girls dream… After chemo they were and are thin, not(!) curly, and they have nothing to do with my hair before chemo. My doctor says this is a staying side-effect. I still tryed to wear them long, but it is not the same feeling – and i am every single day thinking about cutting them.
I have a big respect for you: that you stay on your feeling, to have no time or mood for long hair (i so agree) and i have also such a big respect for wearing them short. What you can say your “lil” Boo?! This is my answer:
“My dear, i lo-ove to wear my hair short.”
It gives your little lady a view for loving yourself, despite what the others say!!!! A learning for life♥♥♥
btw: in germany so so many women wear short hair, without having a treatment…
A lot of hugs from me to you!!
Lisa Cousineau says
We went through chemo about the same time and ever since I’ve been trying to grow it out again. I always had medium length hair and my husband always hated “boy cuts” on women. Then I went bald, and buzz cut, and very short, pixie… Then he divorced me. As I’m finally getting it past that awkward stage (I kept giving up and cutting it the first few years) I keep asking myself… WHY am I growing it out? I HATE blow drying it (I have to or it’s a frizzball of a mess) especially when a hot flash hits and my head feels like it’s being boiled. So now, after being single after 26 years of marriage, I ask myself… what do men like? What do they find attractive? Then I say… FUCK that. What do *I* like? Cause that’s the only thing that matters. I’m not living for anyone else anymore. My 14 year old daughter, who remembers the cancer years quite well, encourages me to do what I want to do, says to cut it short if I like it that way, that it looks good that way. I’m very lucky she doesn’t associate it with cancer. Of course she’s a bit older than Boo, she was 10/11. She was the one who encouraged me to take my headscarf off and go bald in public when it got too warm. I was too lazy to wear a wig, lol. So you can just say you like it, it’s easy to take care of, and hopefully Boo will slowly see it as a choice, not a result of being sick. (Maybe have some fun with it and let Boo chalk color it blue and give you a mohawk?)
Barney Gravely says
When asked unusual or uncomfortable questions, Dear Abby would advise asking “Why do you want to know?” A fellow employee ask me how much money I made and that question totally stumped her. Boo could simply say it’s just the hair style you like.