How To Stop Worrying About Male Pattern Baldness

Short answer: Get cancer and shave your head.

There’s a longer answer, too, but I’ll get to that in a second.

IMG_9479If spending four days in the hospital and being forced to work from home wasn’t enough to make this cancer battle seem real, an experience I had on Friday certainly did the trick. I was in the bathroom washing my hands and nonchalantly rubbed the beard on the side of my cheek. It felt a little tender as I rubbed it. Then I looked down at my hand and the sink…covered in small red hairs. I looked back at my face and saw a patch of beard that was just a little bit thinner than it had been a few minutes earlier. The most outward sign of being a chemo patient was finally upon me. As the day went on, I noticed a few more fallen little red hairs showing up in random places. When I took a nap on Saturday and woke up with a lot of slightly longer brown hairs on my pillow, I figured it was time to pull the trigger on my plan to shave my head before the chemo took care of business for me.

IMG_9496I know this seems like it should have been a very moving, touchstone experience for me, but it just didn’t feel that way. If anything, it was exceptionally freeing. I felt like I was shedding the annoyance of finding my hair everywhere (my wife’s hair is enough) but more importantly I was parting with an insecurity that I’ve been carrying around for years. In my pre-enlightened-by-Lumpy days, I was pretty insecure about the impending loss of my hair. I consulted old family photos and Google to try to figure out the genetics of whether or not I was destined for baldness. I would look at photos of myself from just a few years ago and compare them to the current state of my hairline. Being a fan of short hair, I lamented the fact that a level-6 buzzcut was starting to make me look as bald as a level-3 buzzcut previously did. I started Googling hair restoration solutions and was even mildly tempted by this Chia-like oregano that you spread on your bald pate. I wasn’t considering a combover yet, but I’m afraid it might have come to that.

Getting married to a woman who didn’t care about the lushness of my locks definitely helped me care less about this, but I was still frequently peeking at my widow’s peak even after I’d put a ring on it and claimed I didn’t care anymore.

But now I feel like I’m cured of this worry. I’m not sure if it’s the amount of ego-humbling time I’ve spent in a fashionable hospital gown lately or the fact that there’s literally a disease inside my body trying to kill me, but for some reason the number of fruitful follicles on my head is suddenly a low priority for me. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’m going to start worrying about this again after my life returns to normal and my hair eventually grows back. Besides, it turns out that the head under my hair is thankfully rather normal-shaped, so I feel more like an action movie star than a chemo patient.


When you’re facing down the barrel of an illness that could kill you without the miracle of modern medicine, any blurry edges in your life suddenly snap into focus. It actually feels really, really good. Cancer has become the nail polish remover of my life. It’s slowly stripping things down to the bare essentials. Work is far less important. Teaching is not an option. Plans are subject to change. Feeling normal is a luxury. Writing is a therapeutic pleasure. Prayer is essential. And baldness is an instant reality instead of a creeping phantom.

I guess it’s too bad that it took something like this for me to stop sweating the small stuff, but cancer somehow seems to be a more effective teacher than a $4 inspirational book. This side effect is definitely making this journey more worthwhile. I’m alive and will continue to be. Who cares how much hair I have? Bring on the bald jokes.

P.S. I guess this childhood photo should have proven to me that I could pull off the bald look without a problem. What was I so worried about?


P.P.S. My rescheduled second chemo treatment is tomorrow (Monday), so prayers for high white blood cell counts are most appreciated! I want to make it worth the trip this time.

8 thoughts on “How To Stop Worrying About Male Pattern Baldness

  1. Geri February 23, 2015 / 6:41 am

    You have just given every reader a beautiful inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey. Lots of prayers today!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynda Provence February 23, 2015 / 8:34 am

    You write so well and from the heart. Best inspirational line: Cancer has become the nail polish remover of my life. It’s slowly stripping things down to the bare essentials.

    Wish I could give you some of my white cells – I have 188,000 (but trust me, you wouldn’t want mine 🙂 Prayers for today and each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kickingkismet February 23, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    You looked great bald! Gives you that rugged, mainly, you’re gonna kick some butt look. Most appropriate for the dragon you’re going to slay! Fingers and toes crossed for your wbc and sending you a smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bill Giordano February 24, 2015 / 8:11 am

    The God who heals knows the number of hairs on your head, before and after chemo.
    Your writing is an inspiration and I believes it’s kind of what James was talking about in James 1:2.
    Keep hanging in there and keep writing about it. We’ll keep praying.
    -Bill & Pat

    Liked by 1 person

    • rounding30 February 24, 2015 / 9:48 am

      I wasn’t familiar with that verse, but it seems like a great motto for my current state. Thanks!

      “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”


  5. Mj March 4, 2015 / 12:48 pm

    You are a wonderful writer with your honesty and wit. Powerful thoughts on “stripping down to main essentials.” Although not cancer, I was diagnosed with a progressive, incurable, life-threatening disease when otherwise always healthy a year ago, and your line “feeling normal is a luxury” really hit home.
    Keep fighting and smiling (when you feel like it)!
    PS My 8 year old was looking over my shoulder as I read this entry and saw the two side by side pictures. “Who is that guy? He looks happier in the bald picture than the one with hair.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • rounding30 March 5, 2015 / 11:49 am

      Thanks for the smile, MJ. I will keep you and your family in my prayers as well.


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