I am Vain


There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of a rough truth.

-Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Recently, I discovered that I am vain. In no way, shape or form would I ever consider myself as “buff” or “handsome” or any other extraordinary descriptive term. I do not consider myself ugly but average. I would not use ultra-flattering terms to describe my physical beauty. Yet there I was confronted by my own vanity and it moved me to tears.

The story starts with a diagnosis. It should really be multiple diagnoses. There are several that my family has survived. Several of them were of close family members including my mother and my aunt. Now, my cousin counts herself among those who have heard the dreaded words, “You have breast cancer.” Not everyone survives this diagnosis. My cousin finished a round of treatment for hers recently.

These treatments took their toll on my cousin. This was not surprising.  As expected, her hair started to fall out in clumps. The taxing of the body created by the treatments is extreme and beyond my comprehension. It takes an attitude and support to not only survive physically but emotionally as well. She has that. She has the attitude and the support and is fighting for her life.

This is where my vanity comes into play. My cousin’s final treatment of this round, fell on her 50th birthday. My sister approached me several weeks prior and suggested that she was support our cousin and surprise her on her birthday. She was going to shave her head in solidarity and asked if I wanted to join her. My immediate thought was absolutely not, I like my hair and I am afraid it will not grow back. My answer was, “Let me think about it.”

True to my word, several days later, I did think about it. And it did not take me long to recognize my own vanity. I realized that there I sat, thinking about shaving my head, worried that my hair would not grow again. My cousin, whose hair was falling out, was fighting for her life. She was fighting to survive and to win not only the battle but the war against this terrible disease.

I sat there, in public, and cried.

Humbled by my vanity.


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