The hat brigade

buff Now that NaBloPoMo is over and I don’t HAVE to post today, I … simply must.  I think it’s high time to come clean about my hatgear, don’t you?  Hats have apparently really come back this year, which is great, since my hair hasn’t.  Unfortunately, since I haven’t gotten out much, I didn’t get the message until yesterday.  I’ve been just trying to feel comfortable here in hot, then cold DC this year.  I mean, what DOES make you feel good when you’re pulling your hair out by the roots? 

The picture above was taken just after my first chemo, when I was recovering in bed.  I’m wearing a Buff scarf sent to me by NYfriend, who I went to grad school with.  My little boy is next to me in a Buff scarf of his own, and we’re having a day of reading books and snuggling while mommy fights off the nausea.


My hair fell out pretty quickly after that first treatment and was entirely gone by the second, just three weeks later.  I started wearing scarves and hats out in public, but didn’t bother much around the house.  Then again, I didn’t bother to wear hats out in public a lot during the summer heat in Washington, either.  I know it made some people uncomfortable to see someone so young so obviously bald from chemotherapy, but I wasn’t exactly comfortable with the idea of cancer myself, at that point.  I did what I had to do to survive the heat, and I like to think I raised awareness too.  Could it be that another young mom was reminded to do her breast-exam because she passed me on a walk and noticed my baldness?  Or maybe a grandmother or grandfather saw my happy boys and went in to get checked themselves?  That would make me happy.  My Buff scarves also made me happy, as they provided a secure grip on my balding head as I was losing hair by the handful and fit well both before and after complete hair loss.  The “must” accessory of the season, though, turned out to be my cute little accomplice.  It’s amazing how much better a picture of a sick person looks with a happy baby in it!


Happy cousins work well too.  Here we’re wearing our new Race for the Cure hats as we take a breather during the 1-miler.  Cancer survivors are given pink hats and pink t-shirts to wear, while cancer survivor supporters get green and white.  Memo for next year:  do NOT wear the red Buff scarf that morning if there is even a chance that you’ll be given a tiny pink cap to wear.  I was not a happy camper.  And the fact that my red Buff matched my red hoodie did not help.


This is one of my favorite hats, worn unfortunately a little high on the head.  Would someone please tell me when I look like a doofus?  The hat is great, it’s just up too high, exposing my bald forehead.


I had that problem with baseball caps as well.  Which is too bad, since I bought matching baseball caps for me and my boys at the start of all this and thought we would look cute all wearing blue baseball caps together.  The kids did, at least.  But too much of my bald scalp showed, as a regular cap exposes the forehead, over the ears, in the back, and particularly through the “keyhole” where the strap adjusts.  This was not a good or particularly often-chosen look for me.  But my friend in the picture here, Stella, understood, as she’s a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer too!  Doesn’t she look GREAT?


This is my usual look — bald inside, simple knit cap (green, ivory, brown, or blue) outside in the cold.  I thought they looked better on me, though.  Hmmmmm…..


The scarf I like.  Really like.  I have this one in both ivory and brown, and it feels right to me.  Unfortunately I didn’t really discover that I liked scarves until the temperature dropped to 40 degrees outside here.  When I wear this now, my head is freezing and I have to put on a sweater to go with it.  I’m good like that. 

There are a few newsboy-type caps and a red beret that I really really love, but somehow I don’t have pictures of them on me.  I’d sneak upstairs and take a few, but then I’d wake the whole house and my blogging time would be up.  (Another item for my non-existent “things I like about cancer” list: lots of time to blog or brood when I wake up at 3:00 every morning and can’t get back to sleep.)


Some days I just go with my personal favorite … the babyhat. 

That’s funny.  Babyhat looks remarkably like babyphat.  Did I ever tell you gals that Kimora Lee and I lived in the same building and used to hang out while our dogs played together?  Long, long ago, when I was in grad school and she was modeling in local ads.  To this day, I can’t flip by her TV show without thinking, “She and I used to scoop poop together.”  I kid you not.


30 Responses to The hat brigade

  1. you have the most amazing smile.


  2. debra says:

    I don’t know — I think the babyhat is my favorite. Do you know where I could pick up one of those? 🙂

    Actually I love all the scarves and you can’t go wrong with a pink baseball cap! Beautiful pictures and beautiful smile!

    Here’s to a wonderful December, WhyMommy!

  3. juliepippert says:

    Sweetsalty Kate stole my comment, LOL. I agree, and that’s one reason why I think the scarves look great.

    And I don’t know who Kimora Lee is but dog life is definitely a bonding experience!

    Using My Words

  4. Whymommy, you’re looking GREAT. I absolutely love that striped scarf that ties to the side and cascades down your shoulder. It’s stunning, and must keep you nice and warm.

    I’ve been helping a friend of mine to compile resources on head-coverings and scarf-tying for her M-I-L, who has just begun treatment for breast cancer. Do you have any favourite websites that describe how to tie and wear scarves?

    Thanks for this awesome post!

    xo CGF

  5. whymommy says:

    CGF — These scarves from TLC, a nonprofit group with the American Cancer Society, come with directions for how to tie them:

    If she goes to a Look Good, Feel Better program, there are more handouts and also a stylist and/or cosmetologist who can help her in person.

    Oh, and if she’s the sporty type, Buffs don’t require any tying and can be worn under her regular hats to smooth out any rough edges. But they’re definitely not as graceful.

  6. Stimey says:

    Love them all, but you can’t beat a babyhat. Although I don’t think I’ll go out and get one. Perhaps I could just borrow?

    Kimora Lee, eh? The two of you seem just like two peas in a pod! 🙂

  7. ohgrammy says:

    I’m sure you know my vote — no doubt about it, babyhat is the winner!

  8. I like them all, and do I ever agree about the radiance of your smile…

    But babyhat takes the cake.

  9. Heather! says:

    I found myself giggling as I read through these. Your sense of humor and perspective is refreshing. Yes, I would choose the babyhat as well every time!

  10. I just LOVE these pictures!!! Personally, the babyhat is my favorite.

    I can’t get over how incredibly cute that little charmer is, every.single.time.I.see.him.

    Both of you… SO CUTE!!!!


  11. The pictures of you in a scarf remind me of pictures of all my Orthodox Jewish relatives in New York and Israel who never expose their hair in public and have all kinds of interesting scarflike “tichels” they call them. Traditional Ultra-Orthodox women in the past used to actually shave their heads or cut it very short and wear a tichel or wig in public. Part of the tradition of modesty.

  12. Rose100 says:

    No fair. The babyhat should not be in the running, because it’s an automatic winner 😀
    I have to say, you look much better now than you did in the first day pic. And the scarf headdress is the prettiest, in my opinion. Love the cascading effect. I am thinking that Christmas red and/or green would be very festive, and the jewel tones would look great on you!

  13. canape says:

    The cake countdown in your sidebar made me cry.

    Well, that, and lots of hormones.

    But I love the cake countdown.

  14. Margaret says:

    I think you’re wearing your hats in exactly the right place. If you pulled them lower on your forehead– the way, technically, they’re suppsed to be worn, I guess– we couldn’t see your eyes. And you have beautiful eyes.

  15. jj says:


  16. Susie says:

    Hello Whymommy
    I had breast cancer 3.5 years ago, but have had a condition called Alopecia since the age of 4 which caused my hair to fall out off and on throughout childhood and into adulthood.
    Now after the chemo, I lost my eyelashes and eyebrows, and it looks like they have left the building for good.
    If you would like to find some fun and colorful hats, caps and scarves, take a look at what I and another lady started making.
    We use soft stretchy cotton material and as you can see from the videos, have scarves to tie around the hats for different looks.
    Hope this gives you one more avenue.
    Keep smiling.
    I love to look at people who are having what they perceive as a boring or ho hum day and give them a big smile just to see their reaction, and I usually get a big smile back.

  17. Emily says:

    The babyhat is the best one, by far.

  18. mcgearstella says:

    The babyhat is the best! I really like the brown knit hat in your profile picture! And seriously, I said it before and I’ll say it again- he is too freaking cute! REALLY CUTE!

    Stella must be an inspiration for you. She looks great. I can imagine that’s what you’ll look like, too after you beat this!!

  19. Not to sound too cutesy here, but your smile is so fabulous that it’s a wonder to me that anyone would notice what you have on your head (or even if you have hair or not!). If you want opinions though, I would have to go with the baby hat (#1 choice) and the scarf (#2).

  20. LawyerMama says:

    I love the babyhat.

  21. You should put a picture of you from 2nd Life – I love the ballgown and tiara… And honestly that’s what I picture when I think of you. LOL

  22. pipeymom3 says:

    Kimora Lee the model and now WhyMommy the beautiful hat model. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts, your humor, and your strength! You are a model in so many ways.

  23. Ally says:

    “I know it made some people uncomfortable to see someone so young so obviously bald from chemotherapy, but I wasn’t exactly comfortable with the idea of cancer myself, at that point.”

    I loved this line.

    You look fabulous in all of your head-garb. I like the scarf the best, after the baby-hat. 🙂

  24. planetnomad says:

    The babyhat is, of course, hands-down the cutest, but I have to say that you make it all look good. You have the best smile.
    I also like the scarf…maybe in blue…you could pretend you’re auditioning for the part of Mary in the Live Nativity 😉 Seriously, I like scarves, and that’s a really pretty one.

  25. whymommy says:

    You’re all too kind!

    And Robin Elise, isn’t it funny, but Second Life is what got me used to the idea of being bald in the first place. At BlogHer in SL, I had just started losing my hair, so I made my avatar bald (with tiara!) to get used to seeing myself that way. After a weekend in SL, coping with the awkward moments there, I felt much more able to deal with it when it happened to me in reality, and I didn’t shy away from being seen bald in public. I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable, of course, but neither was I embarrassed at the fact that I had cancer. I didn’t cause it, so what was there to be embarrassed by?

    As for the babyhat, yeah, I love it too. Since he’s a good 21 pounds now I doubt we could carry the look off today (little chunk! 81st percentile in height, baby!), but he’s still my darling.

    Oh, the SL link for anyone who missed it in July and is wondering what we’re talking about:

  26. b*babbler says:

    Kimora Lee? What a strange life you’ve led… Somehow I’m trying to imagine her having deep conversations about physics and astronomy and… uh… it’s just not happening. But sometimes it is interesting to meet people who are so incredibly different from the lives we lead.

    (And all those photos of you? Just beautiful. Truly.)

  27. N. Taber says:

    Got your note today about your crocheted Happy Hats from the Wellness Community and followed the URL here. Didn’t spot photos of them though, so I’m just guessing which ones you have. I’m delighted they’ve been of service to you. Be sure to check out the new extra-thick hat/scarf combos I dropped off today!

    I was pleased to read in your Wellness Community post that may hats’ bright colors make you smile – me too, which is why so many of them are so colorful. I actually found the Wellness Community through a link on the headhuggers site (which you’ve mentioned in a post), where I’ve also picked up some pattern ideas.

    Blessings to you through this week’s struggles.


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