Pinky Pie

Putting on my face, Tammy Faye & Me

Posted on: February 15, 2010

Tammy Faye Baker Messner

I was heading to the restroom, making my usual joke about going to “powder my nose,” when my friend said, “Yes go and put on your face.”

With my eyelashes and eyebrows gone in the last couple weeks, I would have to put on my face. That same friend noted I raised my eyebrows without actually having hair on them.

Powdering one’s nose and putting on one’s face are terms from my mom’s generation and refer, of course, to makeup. After every meal, Mom used to pull out her makeup bag and put on fresh lipstick and powder. She’d blot her lips with a Kleenex and her nails were always perfect because she had regular manicures.

It must have skipped a generation.

Anyway, I had just decided that I was not going to lose my lashes and brows when Maggie noted last weekend that they were gone. I did notice my eyes were more irritated in the lat week or two but didn’t connect the dots. I’m that observant.

I also noticed today that my arms and legs also have no hair but will stop there with any discussion of hair or lack of. But I would like to say, thank you chemotherapy, for the gift that keeps on giving.

What a late hit, the kind that would be given a penalty in football. Perhaps I should check with my doctor – or Brooke Shields –  to see if Latisse is right for me. I certainly have “inadequate eyelashes.” (No I wouldn’t really do this.)

With millions and millions of hair follicles, I guess it took a long time to get around to my brows and lashes. I certainly hope that the cancer-fighting drugs were not distracted from killing cancer cells that might be floating around while it worked on my brows and lashes.

And considering that hair falls out because the chemo attacks fast growing cells, you would think my hair would return at a faster than a snail’s pace. Impatience: thy name is Susan T.

But I digress. Just before I started chemotherapy, I attended an American Cancer Society class called Look Good; Feel Better. We were given a bag full of free cosmetics that I still have not touched.

They instructed us to put dots on our eyebrows and then connect them to appear like brows. A friend came with me who has never been shy at laughing at/with me and there was something very laughable as my dots were rather large.

Still, why should I “connect the dots” when the federal government cannot?

I have never been skilled in application of makeup. Instead, I pretty much looked clown-like any time I tried. And that was before I bought a hundred pink clown nose after my breast cancer diagnosis.

But let me give you an illustration about how makeup challenged I am.

When I was a teenager, I tried applying the then popular false eyelashes. When I came out of the bathroom, my brother took one look at me and said, “It looks like birds landed on your eyelids.”

Ah, Andy, you were always there for me. And, oh so accurate.

Of course no one could put on a face like the late Tammy Faye Baker Messner,whose first husband was the television evangelist James Baker. Her heavy makeup included mascara and eye shadow and plus tattooed eyebrows. She had on more in a single day that I have worn in a lifetime, although there was a time when I, too, dabbed on powder blue eye shadow. Sadly, this poor women died of inoperable colon cancer in 2007.

At the Optimist Club last week, where I was a speaker, I was pleased to discover the Optimist Club creed includes: To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

Even without makeup, I feel very good about myself. I had noticed that many women who have had chemotherapy seemed to look down, almost as if they were embarrassed to be hairless. My response is to smile and say good morning to everyone I meet.

I was telling this to a woman I was interviewing last week and she said, “You seem to always have a smile.”

That really brought a smile to this face.


5 Responses to "Putting on my face, Tammy Faye & Me"

You’re such an inspiration! So glad you hold your head high and smile…I’m sure many women appreciate you sharing this.

Thank you very much. Please share my blog with your contacts. Could you post the link to your blog roll?

I do hold my head high as we all should. I see folks looking away when they see my bald head when I walk at the mall. They are the ones I particularly want to greet to let them know it’s OK.


Rock on you human billiard balls! We should all be proud of our courage to confront our true mortality and morbidity…actually, I feel sorry for women (and men, it turns out!) who desperately try to hang onto their “looks” via hair dye, make-up and plastic surgery. They start looking ghoulish and bizarre–Joan Rivers is the most bizarre example of this misplaced anxiety. People who load themselves up with cosmetics or surgery are covering up their expressiveness and their humanity. That’s why, imo, when you meet someone whose spirit is nakedly greeting you, it’s almost a shock. It’s such a commonplace for people to have cancer and to lose their hair that it’s almost a badge of courage.

Every day with or without eye lashes or eyebrows or hair for that matter is a good day…no, make that a GREAT day. So much indignity with chemo but after you are done with this foray into the medical world you will have the best revenge because you know what “they” say, living well is the best revenge!!! You are definitely living well. Keep smiling.

Catching up on your writings today and as always, you put a smile on my face. I understand being “blithey” as you taught me that trait years ago.
About the eyelashes. Do not fret! Casey’s were gone for almost 3 years when as if by magic they reappeared within about a two day time span. Their quick return was both a little weird and exciting.

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