And Then, Suddenly: The Silver Fox!, or OMG I Have Hair!

Hair, someone told me once, was a sure sign of life. I.e., if you’re growing hair, you are alive. (There are other signs but hair is a definite yes-I-live). I’ve even heard that any mole with hair growing out of it––mole as in the things on your skin, not the things that dig holes in your yard––is almost certainly not a suspicious mole, because hair is a sign of life.

But here I’m talking mostly about head hair, which I lost pretty much all of to chemo. As I’ve said before, if I’d been younger, I’d have been devastated. My hair has been my obsession, probably bordering on fetish. I’ve had all kinds of hair:

This is my 1982 hair. (I’m the one on the left, smartass. The one on the right is George RR Martin. Just FYI.)

This is my 1986 hair. (I’m the one on the right, smartass. The one on the left is my son. Again, just FYI.) (I have no idea how gigantic this photo may be, as WordPress’s photo editor seems temperamental today.)


 This is my 1990 hair.


 This is my 1999 hair, which is in fact mostly monofibre. I went through a mermaid phase with hair extensions.

This is my 2011-ish hair, which continued all the way up to when it finally fell out.

About a month and a half after my last round of chemo, my hair began to grow back. Not slowly, but at a natural rate, as if I had deliberately shaved it off. By August, when I was preparing to go to the world science fiction convention in Spokane, Washington, I had what could have been a pixie-cut that was just slightly too short. Ellen Datlow told me she thought it looked cute and I could probably get away without any head-coverings. I will always love her for that, truly. There’s nothing more reassuring to someone recovering from chemo than to be told she looks cute with her short hair. I mean, really. It goes a long way toward recovery–not just a physical recovery but the psychological recovering of yourself from cancer patient to Who You Are. (Yeah, you may be both but it’s important to be Who You Are first, cancer patient second.)

Still, I left the head scarves on. I wasn’t quite ready to expose my itty-bitty head with its itty-bitty hair. 

A month later, however, my hair was an inch longer and it was a different story.


This is my 2015 hair, the Silver Fox. I’m afraid this is about the best shot I have at the moment, but you get the idea. Suddenly,  I had thick, kinda curly, more-salt-than-peppa and although it was still quite short––shorter even than it was in high school, when I had my shoulder-length mane chopped off for the shock effect (adolescence, a weird and baffling time)––but it actually looked good.

I took it out to dinner with my son, who is much more than an armful now. He pronounced it good.

Then Chris and I took it to dinner with John and Judith Clute, where it was a total hit. “Don’t let it get much longer,” John advised me. “It looks great.” Judith agreed.
After that, I took it to TitanCon in Belfast… 

…where it inspired mass demonstrations of approval. Okay, not really. We’re all saying good night here and my hair just happens to be in the photo.

Chris agrees my hair is epic. Neither of us would have thought that hair this short would actually become me but somehow, it does. My hair is like an Apple computer––it works as soon as I take it out. There’s a lot to be said for convenient hair, especially now that chemo has given me super-powers (I can walk).

If you look good, you feel even better––not exactly a profound conclusion. But cancer patients are often told they look great––and quite often, that means “You look great for someone with cancer.” That’s not an insult, cancer patients would rather hear that than see a horrified expression on someone’s face.

But when you can look good as Who You Are…well, you get the idea, right?


22 thoughts on “And Then, Suddenly: The Silver Fox!, or OMG I Have Hair!

  1. I hadn’t met you before, but you totally look like you to me. Smiles. And fabulous with it! I did laugh when I realised that you probably had as much hair as I was wearing when we met in Aviles, you vixen. Smiles.

    • Oh, I know. Hair is a funny thing. I’ve always been a bit neurotic about mine. Back in Aviles, I did think to myself more than once that if I’d been gifted with your features and your head, I’d have gone around topless from the neck up. My head, however, looks kind of like a lumpy asteroid. It needs more hair just for aesthetics.

  2. A hearty ‘Welcome Back’ to your (always magnificent) hair, and great to see a succession of photos from then-til-now.

    And congrats on the super powers!

  3. You really rock that Hair With Character (and yes, that could me construed more than one way LOL) but it’s wonderful. Congrats!

  4. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 10/1 The Other Blog of Phileas Fogg | File 770

  5. Your hair in the picture with George is about the length I remember when I saw you at Midamericon 1, but then I still had hair then! My wife didn’t loose hers during her 1991 chemo. Funny, now I’m working in the building where she had her surgery. She’d figured out what she wanted to wear when it did, then it didn’t (she wanted to be a blonde). Our daughter can’t quite believe all that happened before she was born. In any case, you’re rock in’ the silver fox look now.

      • Tell me about it. Autocorrect on an unfamiliar site got me once, changing Cadigan to Cardigan. What a pain.

    • Thanks for your good words.

      Yeah, the photo with George is about six years after MidAmeriCon 1 and I can’t believe it all happened that long ago, either!

  6. I like the sequence of photos… and am glad for you.Mine stopped growing for 6 months and it was my thyroid gland and it never really was the same but my brain is better now.Seems like you survived a tough wishes

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