Mama en ik zijn allebei kaal
#8

Viora

‘After shaving, I suddenly became a cancer patient’
Before getting acute leukemia five years ago, Viora (30) was a really fit girl. Then she went bald and gained 30kg. ‘Wearing a wig made me look less ill, but I still preferred to wear beanies.’

‘After four months of chemotherapy, I was so fed up with finding hair everywhere that I called my mum and said: just shave it off. I felt so miserable in the shower with strands of hair in my hands day after day. I used to get rid of them by sticking them to the wet tiles on the wall. My mum is a hairdresser and wanted to shave me herself. We were kind of dreading it, but it turned out to be a very warm and sweet moment. She made a braid out of one strand, which she keeps in a frame.

Although I would have been able to keep going for quite a while, I knew that I would go bald eventually, so I had my wig ready for a while. One time, when I still had hair, my boyfriend Joost jokingly came into the living room with that thing on his head - I laughed so hard. We took a hilarious picture - he looked a lot like me with that wig on.

Encouraging nods

Going bald was quite convenient. My head was dry right after showering, I didn’t need to detangle it, and my legs had never been so smooth. However, it completely changed my appearance: I was suddenly a cancer patient. It was especially hard on my parents. I looked less ill with a wig on, but I had a hard time getting used to it. It felt as if I had a dead guinea-pig on my head - really hot and unnatural. I preferred to wear beanies, but if I wore them out and about, Joost and I would often get encouraging nods. I found that quite challenging.

‘Joost and I took a hilarious picture. He looked a lot like me with my wig on’

Viora

Still the same person

I was able to handle being bald quite well: your hair or your life, that’s not a difficult choice to make. I found it harder to come to terms with the fact that I gained so much weight. Prednisone made me swell up, and I got stretch marks and bumps everywhere. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. My clothes looked different too, now that I didn’t have hair anymore. All of a sudden, I found some T-shirts too boyish. I started wearing makeup or earrings more often to look more feminine overall. Joost kept saying that he still saw the old Viora: ‘Your eyes are still exactly the same, and that’s what I look at’, he said. I found that hard to believe, but it did help. Another thing that has helped is haptotherapy. I was never miserable when I looked in the mirror. Instead, I focused on the fact that this was temporary. When the treatment was over, we would travel around the world.

The best thing for my body

In April 2019 we went travelling for a year, as we’d said we would. An amazing experience that we would never have had if I hadn’t got sick. My hair has grown long in the meantime, the kilos are gone and, most importantly: I’m healthy. Before getting ill, I was a really fit girl, always working on my weight and building muscle. Now, I exercise for a completely different reason: I want what’s best for my body. I find it so extraordinary that everything is working again. My illness has made me realize that you could lose your happiness in a split second. That makes me grateful, not scared. I recently started coaching others in dealing with adversity. My illness has given me so much. I wish others could feel as happy as I feel now.’