C California Style

The Silver Lining, $29.99, Atria Books; thesilverpen.com.
The Silver Lining, $29.99, Atria Books; thesilverpen.com.
Author, survivor, RN, MS and MSW Hollye Jacobs.
The Silver Lining, $29.99, Atria Books; thesilverpen.com.
The Silver Lining, $29.99, Atria Books; thesilverpen.com.

Silver Linings Playbook

by intern

Hollye Jacobs offers advice to cancer patients on how to react, recover and get their sexy back.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010, Santa Barbara local Hollye Jacobs turned to writing on her personal health and lifestyle blog, The Silver Pen, to share her experience with friends and family. The site quickly gained attention and has now evolved into Jacobs’ newest work, The Silver Lining: A Supportive & Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer. The book—which is illustrated with photographer Elizabeth Messina’s unretouched images of Jacobs throughout treatment, is filled with helpful tips and inspiration that reminds readers to look for the good. As Jacobs explains, “We don’t make the cancer experience beautiful, but we do add some beauty to the experience.”

Two weeks after my first dose of chemo, my head felt prickly and itchy, which, I assumed, was the precursor to hair loss (bingo!). The best way to describe the feeling is as if I had worn a hat all day, from morning until night, then took it off and needed a really good rub to get rid of the prickles and itches.

In addition to the prickles and itches, I had clumps of hair coming out in my hand. Big clumps with absolutely no pattern whatsoever. Ewwww. So, with this unsolicited outpouring of hair follicles, I knew it was time to shave my head…

My barber was the most amazing man imaginable. He was kind, gentle, thoughtful, sensitive, and he had a fabulous sense of humor!…

Before he started, I asked him whether he would give me a Mohawk (I had secretly always wanted to see myself in a Mohawk). Why? Heaven only knows—perhaps to add a little humor to the situation? Or maybe it was because I spent my adolescence in the middle of Indiana during the eighties, when seemingly everyone (including boy-friends one, two, and three) had Mohawks. He just chuckled and said, “Sure, whatever you want.” To Mohawkville I went.

Buzzzzzzzz. Oh my goodness, did we ever laugh. It was the first time I had laughed—really laughed—since I began treatment. It felt so incredibly good.

When the deed was done and I was bald, I realized, as is the case with everything in life, that the anticipation was far worse than the reality. I shaved my head and now it was bald. It was as simple as that. I put on my new wig (which the HOTY and I picked out on the colitis tour of L.A.) and was ready to walk out into the world.

While I didn’t quite feel like “bald is beautiful” (on me), I did leave the barbershop feeling that “bald ain’t so bad.” 

By Megan Meyer.
PHOTOS: Elizabeth Messina