Behind The ScenesUncategorized

Beautifully bald, Shelley Smith continues her battle with cancer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This past fall, SportsCenter reporter Shelley Smith announced via an espnW essay and social media that she is battling breast cancer. Smith also interviewed former SportsCenter anchor and current Good Morning America host Robin Roberts about the fight against cancer and penned this post for Front Row. Today, Smith and her daughter, Dylann, 28, share what the past four months have been like for them.

I’m bald. Yep. Was sitting around one day wondering why the dog, Rosalita Rosario, was shedding so much? Then I realized it wasn’t her. . . it WAS ME! And so then, I realized — it was time. I called on longtime NBA barber to the stars, the affably named Chuck Taylor, gathered my daughter and two of my best friends (Skeats Spalding and Michael Bolton. . . no, not THAT one) and climbed into the big chair. With everyone in the barbershop cheering me on, he whittled away. And then it was done. Just like that.

Twitter, which can be the cruelest of devices, has actually been empowering. I realize I’ve touched some lives and have made friends and allies in the fight. Strange how that has happened..
Shelley Smith, SportsCenter reporter

I had been so worried because my hair has always defined me. If you go back to my reports from 20 years ago, you can see BIG HAIR, curly hair, straight hair, shorter hair, longer hair. . . and all kinds of variations of shoulder pads. But I’ve never had no hair. I’ll pick up my wig tomorrow, but I kind of like my head it the way it is. I’ve never been one to pull off fake stuff. . . so probably, until I go back on air, bald it is. Or turbans. I hear they’re making a comeback.

I had my first chemo infusion Feb. 5. . . first couple of days were tough and then I got an infusion of energy – even made it to the gym. AND THEN, I got the flu. . . that’s not a good combo, trust me. I want to buy stock in TAMIFLU, though. Wonderdrug. Until then, I was really bored actually. Bored is better than sick (although I think I drove my daughter crazy, see sidebar below).

My next infusion is Feb. 26 and I have a girlfriend from college coming out to help me (she says she’s seen me throw up. . . hahahahahhaha. . . actually the anti-nausea meds are awesome, but it’s too good of a line to waste). And then, just like that, I’m halfway done with the chemo part.

I’ve had so many cards and gifts from so many people around the country and Twitter, which can be the cruelest of devices, has actually been empowering. I realize I’ve touched some lives and have made friends and allies in the fight. Strange how that has happened. I’m planning this summer now to visit a woman in Memphis who just finished 12 months of treatment.

Earlier this week I spoke at a banquet for the Rio Hondo Junior College soccer team. They wore pink and made signs for me for a game they won last October and presented me a team photo and poem with all their signatures. They said they dedicated their season to me. I have four pretty tough months left in my “season” and I told them I dedicated that to them. Fight, fight and fight some more!

We’re gonna win!

The Daughter as Caretaker
– By Dylann Tharp

Wanna watch “West Wing?” How about “Scandal?” Or maybe that one movie about the schlubby guy who runs a marathon to get his ex-girlfriend back?

Want some eggs? Noodles? Cereal? Gluten-free, sugar-free, thousand-grain bread with nitrate-free, free-range, died-of-natural-causes turkey bacon, organic tomatoes and lettuce?

These are the questions I find myself asking my mom, Shelley Smith, these days. Anything to break up the monotony of the chemotherapy recovery. And often her answers are, “no,” or “not really,” or, “I don’t feel like it,” or, “I’m just gonna go back to sleep.”

It’s tough. I’m her only daughter and it’s an understatement to say that I’m not great at looking after anyone except myself, and even then I struggle at times (who doesn’t?). But with Mom taking on this new job as a chemo patient, I have a new responsibility as well: caretaker. My, how our roles have reversed.

I know her so well and know that it isn’t her hair or her clothes or her shoes that make her beautiful; it’s her soul.
– Shelley Smith’s daughter Dylann Tharp

She’s always been the rock and I the water, running this way and that from soccer to college to work to relationships. She’s never wavered, til now, and while we navigate through uncharted territory we’re both learning what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I need to force her to talk to me or to make a decision, and sometimes I need to leave her alone and let her figure it out. It’s a constant endeavor and each day is different. Luckily we have an amazing team of family and friends giving us advice and recommendations and recipes, and while it’s not getting any easier, it is becoming more manageable.

Being with her as she shaved her head last week was probably less traumatic for me than it was for her, but I think that’s mainly because I know her so well and know that it isn’t her hair or her clothes or her shoes that make her beautiful; it’s her soul. She doesn’t realize it, but with each day she fights she’s empowering me as well, enabling me to become more compassionate and driven, not to mention a better cook.

On March 7th we’re joining a group of friends in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and we’re dressing up as pink clowns because laughter is one remedy we’re sure of throughout this process. If you’re in the LA Area and would like to come out and support us please do; we’ll be the goofy-looking ones. But let’s be real, she kinda rocks the bald look doesn’t she?

Close