Snot catcher? Or me snorting a bat? (photo robin summerfield)
Snot catcher? Or me snorting a bat? (photo robin summerfield)

In time, we can talk about the nausea, or the fatigue, or the many unexpected side effects that pop up in the days following a three-day chemo session. And of course, there is the constipation — post-chemo, my internal organs most resemble the unoiled Tin Man in Wizard of Oz.

Today, though, it’s about hair loss. The kind you don’t expect. Cancer and chemo have shown me exactly why we have nose hair, something I had never ever contemplated. Obviously, it is about function over form, since I’ve never seen a commercial where a nose-hair model shakes her face and releases a long, luxurious thatch of black nostril hair that bounces in slow-motion.

What I’ve learned is this: nose hair is a tremendous snot-catcher. It’s a beaver dam up the bridge of your nose. And when it’s gone, you lose not only the thing that holds back the stuff, but also the very thing that is supposed to alert your brain re: the rebel flow.

As a result, I get concerned looks, mid-conversation, from people trying to alert me, in the politest way possible, that I resemble a three-year-old. When I use my putter on the golf green, I have seen silver parachutes drop down from my face to splooge the ball. On a windy day, my golf partner quietly moves a few steps away. And on any windy day, it’s a constant, wet ebb. So these days I sniff a lot, and carry handmade handkerchiefs

Given a chance to reclaim one chemo-ravaged section of hair, I would choose eyebrows first. With them, you just look bald. (Without them, you look like an alien or a slightly grey man from the future.) Then, I would pick nose hairs. Living with cancer challenges me to retain as much dignity as possible. Avoiding liquid-lip goes a long way. So appreciate your nose hair… give it a trim tonight!

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