What do you do when you realize that chemotherapy meds and radiation is now taking your hair? Throw a hair shaving party, of course. Okay, maybe not in every circumstance is a hair shaving party the best way to go, but for us, this weekend, it was how we made the best out of a not so great situation.
The hair loss began happening quickly. On Monday a few hairs, Tuesday lots more. By the end of the day Tuesday, I asked Josh if he was losing a lot of hair, his answer, “Yes, tons.” As we headed to bed that night, he said he was going to shave his head. I asked if he wanted to go to the barber or have some friends come over and take turns shaving it. He opted for that option. So that’s what we did.
We gathered some dear friends and family, and particularly guys because I really don’t know what I am doing when it comes to shaving heads, and made the most of it. Of course, along the way we laughed a bit offering up options of mullets, hipster-haircuts, Mohawks, etc., before settling with the classic complete shave.
While the night was enjoyable and made better with a company of family and friends, that we’ve known for many years and hairstyles, there was still a bit of sadness in it too. You see, I really love (and have loved) Josh’s crazy hair especially when it’s long and unruly and he looks a bit like a hockey player. It’s just part of Josh being Josh. He would try to brush it in the morning but it would be a mess soon after.
Of course, a haircut doesn’t change who Josh is, but it is does in many ways amplify that understanding that “Yep, we’re in a cancer battle.” We are not only in it; we’re right in the middle of it, continuing the daily routine of pills and radiation for a least two more weeks.
Being in the middle can be tough, as it seems like you can see everything spinning around you so quickly, but time itself moves slowly from this viewpoint. The song “Hurricane” from the musical “Hamilton” comes to mind. Often it feels like we are right in the eye of the hurricane emotionally and physically. While we are making the most of the days, we aren’t taking fun trips to the beach or other locations this summer. We’re just trying to stay still. Honestly, we don’t go too far from home. When we do, the trips or adventures are short and require one or two days of rest and recovery.
So, what do you do when you feel like you are stuck in the middle? For me, I strive to see the beauty. The moments that wouldn’t happen otherwise. I take a mental (and sometimes actual) snapshot of friends helping shave Josh’s head, hang out and celebrate with friends who joined in from a distance in a head shave too. I kiss my husband’s newly bald head because today I can. We shop for hats because we might need more hats in a color other than Royal blue (#goroyals). I take a few more deep breaths.
And when I can’t think of any more positive things, I simply lift my eyes up and remember God is with us.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
In April of 2019, we learned that Josh had a large brain tumor, a glioblastoma, in the middle of his brain. At the age of 41, this was quite the surprise. Josh sadly passed away after a short battle on September 30, 2019.
View his obituary
These past months, we've navigated the complexities of treatment, and hospice care and learned that there wasn't really treatment and that in Josh's case, the tumor was inoperable.
We're sharing our hearts and experience as we navigate this unexpected turn and God's goodness in the middle of it. We hope to encourage others by sharing our story.
Thank you for following along with our journey even in grief.
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If you'd like to donate to medical expenses, here's a link or you can email us questions
More about Josh & Jenn
Jenn Brown is the author of this site, a loving wife and communications guru.
Josh Brown most recently served on staff at Fellowship Bible Church in NWA as a Springdale Community Pastor. We've served in ministry in Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Nevada.
Cancer has been big part of our story. Josh has battled cancer three times already with the first to being non-Hodgkins lymphoma at ages 15 and 25 and the third thyroid cancer last year and a GBM, brain tumor this year.
Jenn's mom, Carol passed away from breast cancer 21 years ago and her father also went through treatments for Chronic Leukemia (CLL) in 2017 and is doing well now.
Friends & Family
We have been so encouraged by friends and family. Thank you for the practical ways you are caring for us! We love you all! This is just few photo highlights of some meaningful moments.