Storytellers - Joanne
Joanne's Story about Hairloss

Rosemarie sees Joanne at the store. Joanne takes care of Rosemarie's children. Joanne is starting her chemo this week and asked another neighbor to help out with the childcare in case she has trouble with the chemo. Rosemarie knows the chemo starts this week.

Rosemarie: Hello Joanne. How are you feeling?

Joanne: I am feeling good. I prayed with Walter (the traditional Indian healer) and I am ready for my treatments.

Rosemarie: That's good to go into treatment feeling strong. I think it is good that Gloria is going to help you this week with the children, so you can take it a little easy.

Joanne: Yes, she enjoys the children so much and she likes to help out when she can.

Rosemarie: Is there anything I can do to help?

Joanne: No, I think I am fine. I just hope I don't lose my hair [she chuckles a little embarrassed].

Rosemarie: Well, we all know how close you are to the Creator. Maybe He won't let your hair fall out because you're such a traditional woman?

Joanne: I don't know. I hope so.

Rosemarie: Well, let me know if you need anything. I will pray for you and your healing.

Joanne: Thank you and I will if I need anything.


Rosemarie comes to Joanne's house with some food. She knocks on her door. Gloria, the neighbor who helps out with the children answers the door.

Gloria: Hello Rosemarie, how nice to see you. Please come in.

Rosemarie: Hello Gloria, I came early to pick up the children because I got home from work early. I haven't seen Joanne for several days. I brought her some food. How is she feeling?

Gloria: Oh, she is pretty tired but she is still working with the children everyday.

Rosemarie: Oh good. I was worried about her. I've been praying for her. My children told me she started to wear a scarf a few days ago.

Gloria: Thank you for the prayers. I will tell her you're here. She is in the back yard with the children. Why don't you wait here and I'll go get her. She may want to talk to you alone.

Rosemarie: Okay, I'll just put this in the ice box. She makes some fresh coffee and washes a few of the dishes from the children's lunch while she waits for Joanne.

Gloria leaves and a few minutes later Joanne comes in walking a little slower than normal. She has lost about 8 pounds. She is wearing a scarf that covers her head completely.

Joanne: Hello Rosemarie. Oh, thank you with the dishes. Gloria says you brought me something to eat again. Thank you. That was very nice of you to do. I've enjoyed the meals you've brought me. I just haven't been able to eat very much yet and haven't bothered with cooking yet.

Rosemarie pours some coffee into two cups and brings them to the kitchen table. Both women sit down.

Joanne: thank you for the coffee. You've been so helpful. I really appreciate it.

Rosemarie: Oh, this is easy for me to do and it is nice to be able to help YOU out for a change. So, how are you really feeling?

Joanne: Well, I was doing pretty good, just a few stomach problems. Then all of a sudden last Tuesday, I was in the shower and a whole bunch of my hair just fell out. It was all around my feet. It was so scary. [She starts to cry]. It felt so awful to be stepping on my hair. It looked like an animal died in my shower. It was horrible. I reached up and felt my head and then a whole bunch more hair was in my hand. I just lost it. I just got so scared.

Rosemarie gets up and gently holds Joanne.

Rosemarie: Oh, that is awful. I would have been scared too.

Joanne: I just didn't think this would happen to me. I know it happens to other people, but I just thought because I pray and am so traditional, that the Creator would let me keep my hair. Now I wonder if He is mad at me or if I have done something wrong.

Rosemarie: Well, you know other cancer patients who are good people and they lost their hair too. I don't think they were bad. Have you talked to Walter [the traditional healer].

Joanne: Yes, I asked Gloria to go get him for me when she came over to help with the children. I asked the children to play outside and just sort of hid inside. I put this scarf on. I felt dirty and ashamed because I lost my hair.

Rosemarie: What did Walter say?

Joanne: He said it was okay. He's seen other traditional people going through cancer lose their hair too. Some do and some don't. Then we prayed together. I felt better. Calmer. But I still feel ashamed.

Rosemarie: Well, how bad is it?

Joanne: Here, look [she loosens the scarf to show her head. There are a few clumps of long hair, but she is mostly bald. She begins crying again].

Rosemarie: Hummmm. I think it would look better if you cut off the rest of it. You can save it for your pillow. If you want, I'll cut it for you.

Joanne: Oh, I just haven't been able to bear cutting it. I feel so lost, like the Creator has pushed me away.

Rosemarie: Oh Joanne, the Creator would never do that. This is just from the treatment. I know Margarite lost her hair when she had cancer, but she got it back. You will too.

Joanne: yes, please cut it for me. I just don't want to do it myself.

They go into the other room and Rosemarie cuts off the few remaining long strands of hair. Joanne replaces the scarf over her head.

Joanne: Thank you. I'll try to get used to it. Maybe I should have Walter come over and bless my head (she giggles a little shyly).

Rosemarie: (laughing softly) That's a good idea. Do you want me to go get him for you later?

Joanne: Yeah, I think I need to pray with him again. But tell him it is not urgent.


Rosemarie is bringing her children to the house in the morning on her way to work. Joanne answers the door and she is not wearing the scarf. She is totally bald. Joanne sees Rosemarie's surprised look and Joanne begins to chuckle.

Joanne: I got tired of dealing with the scarf and decided the Creator wanted me bald and so I may as well be bald. It's a lot cooler now. [She chuckles again].

Rosemarie [she chuckles too]. Well, you seem to be doing better.

Joanne: Oh yeah. I finally turned my sorrow over to the Creator and after I did that, I just started to feel better.

Rosemarie: What did the children do when you showed them?

Joanne: Oh they were very surprised. But I told them I was sick and that my hair fell out from the medicine. They asked a lot of questions and some wanted to touch or rub my head gently. They were really very cute and sweet. They keep telling me to sit down and they bring me my water. So I am getting very spoiled. [she chuckles again].

Rosemarie: Well, this is good and much easier than braiding your hair every morning.

Joanne: Oh just. My morning activities take a lot less time now. I just soap up my head and don't worry about shampooing any more [both women chuckle].

To read more stories about Joanne, click on her leaf above or click Here

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