Posted by: donrhymer | July 10, 2012


“Do you care what you look like? Because cosmetically, you will be unattractive.”

One of my Doctors told me that three years ago when all this hullabaloo began. Surgery, radiation, chemo, the fact is, no matter what you do, cancer is going to muck with your general appearance.

All this to say, I am now bald. After four cycles of this three drug cocktail, my hair surrendered. “No mas.” I went into my hair stylist. I know, the fact that my hair would need anything approaching a “style” is laughable, but I have too much money and I don’t play golf so I have to throw it away on something.

Anyway, Anne buzzed away the remaining soldiers yesterday. Now, I have rocked the exact same hairstyle for fifty-one years. It killed with the ladies at pre-school so why press my luck – right?

Still it was a little traumatizing to see what little was left finally disappear. Maybe it was vanity, maybe it was finally submitting to the inevitable or maybe it was because I was worried it would make me look – cancery. Whatever the reason, it was weird, but the deed was done and my new life as a bald dude had begun. When I tried to pay her, she refused to take the money. You see, Anne does this on a fairly regular basis for cancer patients – always for free. If they can make it into the shop, she’ll do it there, if not she’ll go to their houses, or to the hospital. It’s just something she does. No fuss, no sad eyes, she just does what needs to be done, effortlessly making it seem like losing all your hair is the most natural thing in the world. Then with a smile, she’s on her way.

You live in these shoes long enough and you find the world is filled with people like Anne.  I don’t know if I knew that three years ago.

I do now.



  1. If we were at the LA Times, the editor would say: nice piece, but what’s the art? You need to post a photo of Rhymer cum Kojak, asap. I did the reading, now show me the look!

  2. Asian tourists wil be yelling at you, “Kojak. Bang-bang!”

  3. Nothing more attractive then a man with a GREAT sense of humor!!! Who cares about the hair, you’re one in a million Mr.Rhymer:)

  4. Others see Kojak, but I imagine you a 1979-era Persis Khambatta. Prove me wrong.

  5. Welcome to the bold brotherhood of hair challenged men. Unite. Prays continue for the end of this for you, good man. Love from our family.

  6. Oh Don I bet you are rockin’ the bald head too! At least in So Cal your head won’t get cold, like it would here in Coeur d’Alene. We haven’t forgotten y’all and pray for you and the family. Stay strong and maybe we will get to see you around town in the fall. Love, The Mitchells

  7. Hey Don,
    I just caught up with your last two months of craziness! No clue what to say except, I hope I could be the man you are if I was going through the same. I’m afraid I’d just have Christina run me over with the car, which she actually has done a couple times anyway, so I probably wouldn’t even have to ask!

    Of course we love you and cheer you on. Sorry we’re a little out of the loop and so much closer now. We’re going to be in the L.A. area Aug 14-21 so perhaps if you are up for it, we could bring you a pie from Polly’s where C n I used to work.., fiiled with the ten sticks of buttter and lard they make it with.., to start to build you up after your summer of incanceration!

    May your inner man be unexplainably “renewed every day” in the same way the Pablo of Tarsus was during his years of blogging (2 Cor. 4:16) in his bedroom

  8. Hey don’t blame all your baldness on the treatment! Remember, you come from a long line of Newton men who started with the receding hairlines around 30 leading to a fairly good amount of baldness around age 50. Your male Newton cousins are experiencing the same, although are still in the denial stage I think. At least (hopefully) you were able tp skip the 12″ comb-over fiasco they endured. Miss you. K

  9. Well written and very moving, Don. When my friend Anne lost her locks, she put on a bandana and continued to sing in the choir. But the Sunday that every choir member walked in with a bandana on their heads put us all in tears. There are lots of people out there who show their love in some amazing ways. Praying for you, Patt and J.L.

  10. Is a tattoo next?

  11. I came over from Anne’s Twitter. From geek girls everywhere: bald is hot. Just look at our adulation of Patrick Stewart. 😀 I wish you the very best of luck in your treatment and thank you for sharing the story. ❤

  12. If your head gets cold & you need a custom-fit hand-knit hat, just let me know. I’m happy to knit it for you.

  13. Thank you for sharing. Folks tend to think that it’s “easier” for men. Rock the bald!

  14. When I started chemo, I had my husband bring clippers to my room and give me a buzz cut. I figured, what the hey? The doctor told me it was all going to fall out anyway, and who wants to mess with butt-length hair falling everywhere like a shedding dog when you feel crappy from chemo and constant needle-poking?

    Being bald was very freeing for me, plus hubby gave me head rubs when he came to visit. Now I know why animals like it so much. Very soothing (ZZZZ … )

    I wore a purple wig in between hospital stays and after I was released. I tried doing the “scarf head” thing once when I was in a hurry, but I didn’t like the “OMG A CANCER PATIENT!!” stares I got from strangers, so back to the itchy wig I went. It got a lot of attention, true – but people thought I was just a nutty chick who liked to dye her hair crazy colors. Kids loved it and thought it was cool – they always smiled when they saw me 🙂

    My 2-foot-long blonde ponytail hung by our bed for years before I finally decided to burn it. My current (and permanent) hairstyle is the same Buster Brown cut I had as a kid. I hated it back then, but now I love it. Go figure.

    Best of luck with your hair and your cancer. I recommend funny hats and/or wigs, if you’re ever feeling adventurous or playful.

  15. The bald “cancery” look lets you get away with all kinds of stuff in public. Enjoy it!

  16. You are indeed fortunate to have someone like Anne in your corner.

    As for being dermis domed, I didn’t need radiation or chemo for that. Genetics can be very cruel.

    Best of luck in your treatment. I look forward to seeing you wearing a T-shirt that says, “I kicked cancer’s butt!”

  17. Having seen the head, I can say that I like it. You remind me of Michael Jordan without all the rings. Fun to rub, too.

  18. Entertaining write-up and a good perspective. I had my hair give up 17 years ago (was called little Kojak by an Australian relative). Since then it’s been back both long and short and in multiple colors. But it was never easier than when it was all gone!

  19. Thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts and nice things you have said about Anne. She is good people.

  20. I do not know you but Anne is married to my nephew and to say she is special doesn’t even begin to cut it. She is an Angel and I am so glad to know bout this wonderful thing that she does, just makes me love her more!

  21. Dear Don,

    Like many of the commenters, I also found my way here via Anne’s twitter. I easily lost the better part of an hour reading through all your entries.

    Thank you for your candor (and your wit). I lost a friend to cancer earlier this year. It felt sudden, although he’d been “fighting” cancer for over three years. My friend Myron was not public about all that he went through. He was outgoing, but private.

    Reading through your blog was a glimpse into some of what he and others surely go through but never talk about (at least not with me).

    It’s true that there are amazing people that come into our lives, the way that Anne has been with you and others she helps.

    It’s also true that words are powerful, and sharing one’s experiences can help other people: to understand, to not feel so alone, to laugh, to feel comforted or inspired. I suspect that your blog has been such a gift. I know it has been for me.

    Thank you, Don. I am pleased to “meet” you.
    Wishing you all the best from Chicago.

    P.S. Kick cancer’s ass.

  22. Don, it’s Hal. I heard that John Travolta has a few extra toupees, aka “rugs” aka “dome doos” aka “hair hat” aka “noggin fuzz”. I love using “aka” in “parentheticals” (yeah, I know, big word for a Sparklett’s guy!) Seriously – go follicle free in pride, my friend.

  23. Don,

    You may be bald on the outside, but I know you are still one hairy, scary dude on the inside. Where it really counts.

    I’m actually thinking of going bald myself. When I tally up how much I spend on highlights and root touch-ups and haircuts and PRODUCTS, I’m kind of tempted to shave it all off. That or maybe go with the dreads. Which could be a really good look for you when your lovely locks grow back in. Seriously, consider it.

    And thanks for sharing Anne’s name with all of us. I’m grateful for the angels who walk among us.

  24. My three year-old makes me watch Rio every day now. I’m so grateful. What a terrific film. Last night, I leaned down to give my daughter a bedtime smooch and she got all Anne Hatheway and said, “Did you actually think we were going to KISS?” Thanks for Rio. Feel better.

  25. And I always cry when Blu finally flies.

  26. Rest in peace, Don.

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