A small gesture for a brother in need

I’ve shaved off all my head hair. It was a minor piece of hair styling since I’ve been wearing my hair as a buzz cut for the past six years, but it was for a big cause, at least for my family.

My younger brother, Richard, was diagnosed with lung cancer in December. This came as a shock since he has never smoked and always had a healthy life style. He got married in October 2005, and cancer is not a good way to start of a marriage. Fortunately, Susan, a neonatal nurse, took the news in stride and has been a tremendous support for Richard throughout the whole process. He underwent surgery to remove about a quarter of his left lung and is now receiving chemotherapy (now getting over his second treatment, which sent him to the hospital for a day because of an adverse reaction). His hair has started falling out and he’s shaved it all off. I told him that I would keep my head shaved until he had recovered completely.

More importantly, I believe, I reminded him about the value of meditation in getting through pain and suffering. As a Christmas gift him, I sent him a copy of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He had done a research project on biofeedback and was familiar with the idea. He even had some meditation tapes, which he dug out of the boxes remaining from his move to a new home. He says that the meditation has helped him a lot when he’s feeling the worst side effects of the therapy.

I hope my karma is not reduced by my liking my new Kojak/Michael Jordan look, which I may keep for good. And it also begs the question of whether it means anything if most of your hair has already turned gray and fallen out.