About My Hair: A Journey to Recovery

An inspirational book for chemotherapy patients
by Marcia Reid Marsted

Article: "Marcia, A Picture Of Healing, And A Book So Appealing"
By Patricia Seremet
The Hartford Courant, February 2002 

At a time when most women don't even want to look in a mirror, Marcia Reid Marsted of Canton took pictures of herself. Again and again. Through chemotherapy.

Marsted, who has two master's degrees, one in biology from the University of Hartford, the other in public health from Yale University, was told she had rectal cancer in 1988.

Ten years later, she was told she had uterine cancer, and chemotherapy meant she would lose her hair.

Marsted is a photographer as well as a scientist, and she decided: "I'd like to document what's going to happen." Like most photographers, she rarely took pictures of herself. But this time, she felt it was important to do it.

Because she didn't want to document it harshly, she said she loaded her camera with infrared film so she'd be soft-focused. Her photos and narrative are in a book that Marsted published herself, with financial help from others, called "About My Hair: A Journey to Recovery."

They're not just pictures of Marsted, although those are the most compelling and real. She includes pictures she took on walks in the woods. One is of a tree heavy with snow that she calls "Weighed Down."

Her husband, Jeff Marsted, who works for the Hartford money management firm of Bradley, Foster & Sargent, also has his voice, in tiny paragraphs throughout called "Jim Remembers."

When she goes to buy her first wig, he writes: "It was like my little sister's first haircut. Then this tragic event became a glamorous and exotic unveiling, followed by a fun, but disturbing adventure into wigdom."

Some of Marcia's last words in the book about her hair are:
"I look like a Karakul lamb. My mother used to have a lambskin coat that had almost the same colors and texture, a curly mixture of gray and brown. When I was a child I had ringlets. Later I had waves. The chemo left me with tight curls. I've been asked where I got my perm."

The pictures are about the hair. The writing is about the hair. But the book is about so much more than hair.

The book is available by contacting Capelli d'Angeli Press, 125 Indian Hill Road, Canton 06019, or going to www.capellidangelipress.net. It costs $15 plus $5 for shipping and handling. She donates a portion of the cost to cancer charities.

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