Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl.
Everyone said she was beautiful, but she wondered why they said that because she didn’t feel beautiful.
One day, she got a call from her doctor. He said, “The biopsy results came back positive for cancer.”
She was scared but decided to go through with what the doctors told her to do. She had always felt insecure about her body and her looks, and now she was going to have to somehow deal with losing a body part (her breasts) along with temporarily losing her hair.
At first, she went deep inside herself (as she often did) to shut out the people who loved her. She tried to figure out a way to deal with the frightening prospect of disfigurement.
After a while, she came up with a solution: she would ask her boyfriend to leave her for a year so she wouldn’t have to expose her “ugly self” to him with no breasts and no hair.
“No,” he said when she told him. “I’m staying here with you. You are beautiful now and you will be beautiful with no breasts and no hair—because you are beautiful to me.”
This sent her into a panic. He wouldn’t leave. So she went back into the hidden place deep inside herself and tried to cope. She stayed in that faraway place until her surgery.
After the surgery, she had a difficult time, but slowly became used to her new body with deformed, lopsided breasts. She knew someday they would be beautiful again; she just had to wait until after her radiation therapy to have restorative surgery.
Losing her hair was a dreadful experience, one that no woman should ever have to go through. But, as awful as it was knowing what was coming, she didn’t shave her head like some women do.
She let it fall out a little at a time. It was easier once it was gone, but she remained self-conscious and covered her head most of the time. People told her she was beautiful bald, but she didn’t believe them.
For as long as she could remember, she lived hidden away because she was afraid to be hurt. She’d been deeply hurt a few times in the past, so she decided to live shut away so that she couldn’t be hurt anymore.
For many years, she worked hard to come out of hiding because she wanted to live a full, whole life; she wanted to love and be loved like other people. But it was difficult. The world seemed like a bad place filled with scary people.
Sometimes she wore wigs when she left the house, but her favorite method of hiding her baldness was wrapping a scarf around her head like a turban.
One day while she was in a store, an amazing thing happened: She felt compassion and love coming from two people who were looking at her. She soaked in the good feelings and realized that it was because of her turban.
Soon she began to notice this everywhere she went. Instead of the old indifference and hostility she once felt from people, she now felt she was being bombarded with love and compassion.
She loved this feeling a great deal, and would mentally send the same feelings back to people with a smile. All of a sudden, it was like the world was a different place, and she began to enjoy going out into it and being around people. She didn’t have to hide as much because it was different now—people were loving and kind. It seemed like everyone was smiling at her.
Time went on. The chemo treatments ended, and, about four months later, little stubs of hair started to appear on her head. And for about three months after that, she told people she was just waiting for it to get a little longer before she stopped wearing the turban.
One day, her boyfriend said, “Honey, it’s time to wean you off that turban. There is hair sticking out everywhere.”
They both laughed at this, but, instead of taking it off, she simply replaced that turban with a bigger one to hide her hair. She realized she didn’t want to give up wearing the turban because she was afraid the good feelings would stop when she was out in the world. At the same time, she realized it was time to move on to a new lesson.
The lesson she learned from her time with her turban is this: There are many good people everywhere.
For a long time she couldn’t feel their goodness, but it was there. And it always had been. She just had to be under a turban to see it.
Author: Laurie MacKinnon
Image: Max Pixel
Editor: Leah Sugerman