Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fear the Beard

Six short years ago I had my 45 by 45 list. 45 things to accomplish before I turned 45. On the list was growing a beard. Check.  What's interesting, time-wise, is that six short years is actually a lifetime ago. And in many ways, six years ago wasn't even my life. In many respects I've been reborn. Not in the Christian born again sort of way. But reborn in that my view of life and my role is brand new.  What's also interesting is that every day is almost like a new lifetime.

But enough of this spiritual mumbo jumbo. Let's talk about the beard. Since growing the beard for my 45th birthday, it's come and gone many times. I'll let it grow, then I'll shave it off.  About a month ago I shaved it off, and this is after having it for only a few weeks. I had a beard at our wedding in September, but then shaved it off. Leslie generally is ok with me having it or not having it. But she would like a little warning when I shave it off.  However, when we went down to Mexico a few weeks back, she wanted me to grow it back, given it made me look a bit tougher.

And that's the funny thing about the beard.  People are not shy at all about telling me what they think about me with facial hair or no facial hair. It's surprising how many comments I get.

It does look pretty good. I've got a fair amount of gray in it though. No gray on top of my head, but definitely gray in the beard. Brief aside, I never lost my hair doing chemo. I've got some good family hair genes.  Anyhow, it looks good, has gray, but it  gives me an extra boost of confidence and makes me look a bit more mature. With the myeloma, I kind of feel like an old man. My sense of my manhood has taken a hit over the past 20 months. That sucks.  Frankly and curiously, the beard makes me feel a little more whole.  However it also makes me look more my age, and that's why I'll shave it off on occasion. I look younger without it and sometimes that is a good thing...ego wise.  But sans beard also highlights my round face and expanding jowls, a result of high doses of steroids. Conversely I recently took a new driver's license photo. I had the beard and fairly long hair. Holy shit, I look like some crazed killer now on my license. Good and bad I suppose. After getting the new license I cut all hair off.

My boss and coworker have beards. Their beards have been consistent for many years. No back and forth. And, as you can imagine, the comments about a beard being a prerequisite in my work group are common.

My nephew Dillon has a beard. His is pretty powerful.  Hispters have beards nowadays and I'm not looking to get grouped into the hipster category. Oh wait, I was yesterday. Talk about an off base comment. Dillon's no hipster either by the way. He's an individual, 100%.

But after being clean shaven for a few weeks, I'm bringing the beard back.  Hockey players will go without shaving during the playoffs. It's a superstitious thing.  So now, after the holidays, I'm back in fighting mode. Ready to fight myeloma even more. Ready to not take shit from anyone. I'm an individual and I'm rolling.


  1. My bears sprouts grays, and I'm only thirty-two! Thanks for the shout out, unc. The beard definitely earns one some degree of respect on the streets.


Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.