What’s in a Lash?

Eyelashes are not the most important piece of equipment that we carry, but their featherweight carries more import than initially meets the eye. Ask the beauty business who has created ways to enhance, elongate, thicken and now grow them.

I had always been fond of my eyelashes. When I was a kid, people would comment on how long and thick they were. I thought little of it; I had done nothing to make them that way and cared little for make-up of any kind, but liked them none-the-less. I took them for granted, assuming they would always be there, blinking back at me as I brushed my teeth every day.

It was not surprising when they became more scarce as a result of chemotherapy several years ago. My hair had exited; why not eyebrows and lashes? My hair has grown back, and looks much like it did prior to breast cancer treatment, but my eyebrows and eyelashes remain woefully scant. One sound piece of advice took care of the eyebrow problem. A woman whose son had undergone treatment recommended eyebrow color applied with a brush as the most natural looking fix. She was right, and this simple addition to my morning routine has added only the briefest amount of time. Well worth it, as there is something severe about the look without eyebrows; it’s alien, or skinhead, or something which does not feel like me. It calls attention in an uncomfortable way, which is reason enough for me to do something about it. Their absence makes much more of a statement than their customary presence.

I realized that I have been bothered by the lack of eyelashes, too. They make a difference. I used enjoy using mascara to bring back that full lash look. They actually do frame the eyes in a way that enhances them, makes them seem larger, stand out. I have been using eyeliner to help with this and avoid looking washed out, and that, too, adds a little to my morning rush. But recently a friend who had also undergone chemotherapy, and whose parents used to own a beauty supply business, said that she has used a product that is helping her eyelashes to grow back.

Now this was intriguing. The idea of tattooing liner had crossed my mind briefly, but seems a painful and not very creative way to venture into the world of tattoos. (Maybe not as painful as 20 lashes with a wet noodle, but still…)Fake eyelashes look unnatural. But the possibility of growing them back….now that sounds appealing.

No one is unchanged by breast cancer treatment. The physical alterations are an outer representation of inner shifts. I have been able to return to my former level of energy and activity and made peace with non symmetrical breasts. I embrace life as I always have, appreciate my loved ones and my ability to be present with others. But I have missed my eyelashes. Quirky as it is, irrational perhaps, it is a daily activity to glance in the mirror and know they are missing. If a few applications with a little lotion can be safe and without backlash, I am all for it. I am willing to pay a few hundred dollars for their passage here. Details matter, and if I can reclaim this connection to myself, I am thrilled to try.

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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.