Mitch Lortz was diagnosed with terminal Stage IV Synovial Sarcoma at age 20. He is now 24 living in Boston, MA with his fiancé, Sydney and dog, Meatloaf. You can usually find him at Mass General Hospital, but he also splits his time between his professional career in marketing and managing his personal cancer blog. In an attempt to use humor and a positive attitude to promote wellness, Mitch has been writing for his blog Are You For Serious? and covers topics ranging from the positive aspects of cancer to dealing with hemorrhoids and other chemo side effects.
Have you ever heard of cancer? You probably have, that’s why you’re on this site reading this article right now. So you probably know what a cancer patient looks like. Let’s take a second, close our eyes, and picture what a typical cancer patient looks like to us. Maybe some red bags under the eyes, probably in their 70s or older, maybe they’re a lady cause you have breast cancer on the mind, who knows. Let me ask you a question, are they bald?
Of course they’re bald! That’s what we cancer folk are best known for, being bald. If I were on a subway and really needed to sit down because I was weak from my last round of treatment and I needed to prove to somebody that I need their seat because I have cancer, how would I go about proving it? Why, I’d show them my shiny dome of course!
All kidding aside, baldness is something many people with cancer have to experience at one point or another. While having a shimmering scalp can have its drawbacks, I like to think about the positives it can bring about as well. For example, taking a shower is way quicker without hair. No need for shampoo and it dries in a second. Convenient. I believe it also brings a sense of comradery with it. I don’t mean that every bald dude is giving each other the head nod on the street but let me tell you a story.
The year was 2016. Harambe had just passed and white people had just learned what dabbing was. It was Halloween time and I am a fan of dressing up for the occasion, so I had picked a clever outfit. You see, I was six cycles deep into a chemo regimen at the time, so I was obviously as hairless as a pre-teen’s upper lip before prom. Given I had no hair of any sort (eyebrows, leg hair, nothing) I had only a few realistic options. There’s the classic Dr. Evil but you gotta find a gray jumpsuit and make that teardrop. Could’ve been Vin Diesel but wasn’t nearly strong enough for that. So I landed on the ever classic bald-person costume, Mr. Clean. It was an easy costume. I grabbed myself a white outfit and a gold earring and then bam! The transformation was complete. So that night I hit the town for some ill-advised drinking and such and wouldn’t you know it, I ran into another Mr. Clean at the first bar. Rather, a Ms. Clean. We saw each other from across the bar and had to go say hi and figure out why the hell we were both hairless enough to pull off the character.
Her name was Katie and she had alopecia, so she was as hairless as myself. We got to talking and wound up going around town getting drunk together the whole night. Never talked to her again, but I wound up with a new friend and a pretty good story about how something like being bald from illness can bring two total strangers together.