Amy Reichbach shares an essay she wrote in Writing the Journey, a 6-part workshop series offered in-person or online for women affected by breast cancer. She dedicates the piece to her 2012-2013 Civil Procedure class at the University of Massachusetts School of Law (pictured below).
I dyed it pink as day seventeen approached. I wondered if the falling out would be slow, snaking its way strand by strand down my shoulders, past my hips to the floor. Or sudden, clumps of dark blonde hair appearing in my hands during a shower, or when I casually reached up to idly twist some strands during a conversation. I couldn’t cut it short, even though so many said this would make it easier. But I had lost a breast already; this would be another piece of my femininity gone. And so with my four-year old daughter by my side I cut two pieces of the long hair I’d always had, tied them with ribbons – one for her, one for me. Then, with a friend’s help and some hair dye, we became pink.
And somehow, a few days later, after I stood in front of my class of first-year law students explaining that I would be starting chemo and losing my hair sometime after their final exam, and that I’d gone pink with my daughter to help ease her anxiety about my impending baldness, they all showed up pink too. These special people who had kept me working, who had motivated me to return as soon as possible after each surgery – their beards and hair and clothes were all pink. My attendance sheet went around that day and came back covered in pink stickers. Pink cookies had been baked and stacked on a plate at the front of the classroom.
And then I taught. And they learned another sort of lesson – that it was okay to be vulnerable, that connection mattered, that every day we would come back to the same room and do what we did.
Amy Reichbach is a lawyer, educator, and divorced lesbian mom living in the Boston area. These pieces were written during her participation in LBBC’s online Writing the Journey program facilitated by Alysa Cummings.