“I’ll bet you are looking for Neva?” asked the young man standing behind the reception desk of the hair prosthesis store yesterday.
“In fact, I am”, I responded hoping to hear an affirmative response from him. It was last winter when I had last visited Neva here to get my first ever – wig. And it was here where I had returned shortly thereafter to have my oven-singed wig repaired. (Never open an oven door while wearing a wig) Neva had been kind, compassionate, and just what the doctor had ordered at the time. I never thought I’d need a wig. I had no idea what to even expect. “Queen Neva” made my search so easy. I ended up liking, and buying the third wig she put on my head.
“You look fantastic,” I remember her saying when she put on a wig with my natural colour hair.
I believed her because for the first time in a long while, since I lost my hair to chemo, did I see my old self in the mirror once more. Albeit, my face was puffy and I was pale, I felt “alive”. And looking better lifted my spirits. I hated to admit it – but I was concerned about being bald.
“Neva is just around the corner… right here!” he exclaimed as he moved me towards Neva’s workroom.
I walked around the corner and stuck my head in to find her with a paint brush in hand – dying a wig on a stand. Who knew that was something she did too! “Neva, it’s Stacey. Do you remember me?”
“I most certainly do!” she replied.
“Well, I wanted to show you my real hair. It’s all mine.”
“You look amazing, Stacey! I love your hair! How are you feeling?”
“Neva, I feel better everyday. I’m seven months into remission.”
I repeated it again while turning to the man who was now standing behind me. “I’m seven months into remission from Stage 4 ovarian cancer!”
Neva yanked the gloves off her hand as she moved forward quickly to give me a hug. The man boasted loudly, “congratulations!!!! We don’t get many people coming back here after Stage 4! How wonderful.”
Neva gave me a great big bear hug. “Stacey, I am so happy for you! You were so forlorn last time I saw you. You know – the singing incident. Congratulations! Thank – you so much for coming back. This is such a gift. I am so happy.”
(Did she have a tear in her eye?)
I’m not sure who gave who a bigger gift that day – Neva with her excited response to my news, or me with my full head of hair? Either way, it was a wonderful moment that had not been shared by many. I wonder how many times Neva must have fitted a person with a wig and then … never to be seen again? What thoughts must run through her head when a woman with stage 4 cancer sits in her chair and selects a head piece? Did she wonder if she would ever see me again – alive? All in all, I would think her job to be rewarding and very challenging. How many woman return to visit her?
It was a wonderful encounter. It was a happy ending. For Neva and for me. My previous “hair-razing” experience had ended in “style”. And for that – I had Neva to thank.