About My Hair: A Journey to Recovery
An inspirational book for chemotherapy patients
by Marcia Reid Marsted
Review: "About My Hair A Journal to Recovery"
By Doug Dix, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology and Medical Technology
University of Hartford
Marcia says her book is about her hair, and, in a
small way, she is right. She had hair and then lost it
to chemotherapy. But the chemo killed her cancer and,
in time, she got her hair back. This book documents
that loss and recovery. But Marcia is overly modest.
This book is not about her hair, but her spirit. She
fought uterine cancer and won - no small achievement.
But that is not half her story. Ten years previous,
she fought rectal cancer and won. And along the way,
she fought and won against fear, grief, pain,
embarrassment, and foes I can't
What Marcia doesn't say - what she may not
acknowledge even to herself - is precisely what makes
her book important. No reader can fail to catch it.
My job as reviewer is to make it explicit for those
who haven't read her book, for those who are wondering
if they should read it. Here it is: Marcia is a
champion at coping and her book offers instruction and
inspiration to all who face foes or worry that they
might have to in the future.
"Some days I felt as though I just wanted to sit
around and do nothing. I didn't allow that feeling to
last long. The worst thing, for me, would be to let
the cancer or the treatment take over my life. I would
mentally pick myself up, and physically go do
something. Work on my photography, go to the gym, call
one of my daughters, drive into town to do a little
shopping; anything to keep my mind and body from
getting depressed. My doctor called it denial. Even
today, I call it positive attitude. I have never
believed in the logic in asking 'Why me?' or being
angry at the unfairness of life. Why would I bother to
focus on an obviously unanswerable question, wasting
my time and energy? Better to get on with life...."
Cancer took Marcia's hair and her uterus and
ovaries and her energy and physical strength and a
good bit of her joy of life, but it never dented her
spirit. When cruel death came to look Marcia in the
face, she chose to be creative.
"I made a conscious effort to keep up with my art.
Sometimes I had to give myself a mental push. It would
have been easy to use my illness as an excuse to be a
lump... I needed something to think about besides
my various doctor and hospital visits."
Marcia's words and photos are interesting,
provocative, beautiful, and optimistic. They tell of a
spirit that isn't vulnerable to death and they give
us reason to believe that we all share in that spirit.
There's one more point - Marcia's book is about
her husband - his love for her and her quiet gratitude
for him. Its a small part of her small book and rather
matter of fact, not sentimental, but eloquent in its
testimony to the role of love in sustaining spirit and
vice versa. There's even a hint that the two may not
be different. Read this book. You'll finish it in
a half hour and remember it for a lifetime. It's not