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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: The Italian Silk Scarf
By Johnna Stein


Humiliating is what this is. The maintenance man is kind enough to come unclog the bathtub drain within minutes of my call. I knew this was coming, but I guess I have been hoping that somehow I would be spared the inevitable hair loss from the chemo treatments. No one bothered to let me in on the possibility that I could loose almost all of my precious locks at once. A few stray tufts had loosened this week, but Iíve been secretly hoping that would be the extent of the damage.

I am supposed to lead prayers for small group tonight. How can I go out in public? The wig I reluctantly ordered last week at ďHair All OverĒ wonít be ready for at least another week. Sally, my small group leader and best friend, readily agreed to accompany me that dreaded day and was ever so patient and gracious. It took me hours to choose the right wig and yet I remain doubtful it will look as natural as they promise.

Itís all too much and once again I am overwhelmed by anger and sadness. Iím a Christian for goodness sakes. Why arenít I able to cope better? In my old life or before cancer (BC, as I like to call it), I always thought that if I ever got cancer Iíd be one of those amazingly brave cosmopolitan women who sport a beautiful bald head or wear high fashion scarves. As Iíd watch them confidently walk by, I would admire their seemingly courageous manner in defying this illness.

Thatís who Iíd hoped to be, but I have failed miserably. I find myself complaining about the never ending nausea and aches and pains that plague me in the darkest hours of the night. I seem to have lost my joy and feel disconnected from most of my friends. Theyíre sympathetic and regularly offer help, but I donít want help. I want to be cancer free and go back to my old life.

I want to scream and yell at the top of my lungs until Iím completely spent. I want out of this cancer prison! Sobs rack my whole body; my grief and frustration pour out and I feel broken and empty inside. Iím drained from my emotional outburst and the constant lack of sleep. Oh God, why is this happening to me? I crawl on the couch hoping to fall into dreamless sleep.

The shrill ring of the phone startles me and I automatically reach for it. Number recognition reveals that Sally is calling. She immediately detects sadness in my voice.

ďDonít say a word, Ginger. Iím coming over.Ē

I feel panicked; she canít see me like this.

ď No. Sally, you donít understand. Today itís not just the nausea. All my hair fell out. Iím completely bald. I canít go to small group tonight like this. I never thought Iíd really need that ridiculous wig we ordered and now itís not even ready.Ē

Sally always has a plan ďBĒ. ďGinger, I have a beautiful Italian scarf that would look terrific on you. I can bring it by and I donít even have to come inside. I can discreetly ring your doorbell and hang it in a bag on your doorknob.Ē

ďSally, thanks, but Iím just not up to seeing everyone at small group tonight.Ē I try to sound appreciative.

ďGinger, you may not realize how deeply our group cares and how often you are lifted in prayer by us. We truly love you for who you are on the inside. I know you must be feeling incredibly self-conscious and embarrassed, but the scarf will look gorgeous on you. Please, please, say youíll come. You always say how attending small group gives you a boost each week.Ē

Sally knows me so well and she has a point. Sheís wearing me down. ďO.K. bring the scarf by and Iíll think about it.Ē

Sally responds optimistically, ďThatís my girl. See you tonight.Ē

Later, I tentatively don the silky scarf she dropped off and Iím pleasantly surprised each time I glance in the mirror; it really suits me. I decide I definitely need a boost and carefully apply my make-up for tonightís meeting.

As I nervously enter Sallyís living room, I burst into laughter at my small groupís unusual demonstration of humor and unity. Each and every one, including the men and even eighty year old Dot, are sporting beautiful Italian silk scarves on their heads.

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This article has been read 784 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/07/07
Good use of presnet tense to help us feel the immediacy of your narrator's feelings, and a great ending, too.
Dee Yoder 12/07/07
That's what a good home group is for! Love the character and the honesty in the narrative. Good descritpions of the feelings that cancer brings out in people. The ending brings a sense of peace and humor to this story.
Joanne Sher 12/08/07
Love the end - and the rest of this. :) I could feel her anguish and stress - as well as the wonderful support from her friend. Good stuff.
Ann Renae Hair12/08/07
TEARS! I am currently taking chemo for breast cancer and this really touched my heart! I have not felt this despair, but I have been lifted up by many...including FW!!! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.
Lynda Schultz 12/11/07
What a wonderful expression of solidarity ó Sally's a friend to hang on to. Great story.
Beth LaBuff 12/13/07
Beautiful and poignant. Congrats on your win.
Dee Yoder 12/13/07
Sheri Gordon12/13/07
Congratulations on your EC. I love the voice of this. I could feel her pain. Good job.
Laury Hubrich 12/16/07
Wow! I thought I had read all of this level. Guess I missed it, huh? What a good, no excellent, story! I can relate so much to the grief and anger and also to how a good friend comes to the rescue. Congratulations on your 2nd place!
Jeanette Oestermyer12/27/07
What a wonderful story. Friends can bring a lot of healing of the soul. Excellent job on this one.