Coping With Cancer Hair Loss
You Will Lose Your Hair In Twelve Days.
Sixteen years ago my oncologist said," You may or may not lose your hair with chemo". My hair looked like straw after six months of chemo, but I had plenty. Last year when cancer came back the doctor said, "You will lose your hair in twelve days". I chuckled, "Now your sure"? He was sure.
The pain of cancer is exacerbated beyond all else when it comes to hair loss. Even with a really good support group losing your hair is really hard.
Marie The Blond
Plan Of Action: A Wig , A Hat And A Haircut.
Big Nurse, my clinical trails nurse said, "Get a wig" Big Nurse is always right. I went to get a wig. Some years ago I read an article about a beauty salon called Anita's that specialized in fitting wigs for cancer patients. I went in with a full head of hair. The first thing they said, " We are sorry, Have you heard about Look Good Feel Better?" I was fortunate that there was a clinic in a few weeks. Look Good Feel Better is a clinic sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Mark, the cancer specialist asked, "What chemo will you get". "Taxetere", was my answer. " You will lose your hair in about 12-14 days", he said.
My wig ordered, I went home and called the American Cancer Society to register for Look Good Feel Better. I didn't really want to go. They mentioned free make-up and they would discuss tying scarves. I always wanted to know how to tie scarves. I thought scarves might be my thing, I didn't think I was a wig person. I had lots of ball caps. I got a sassy short haircut. The wig arrived. I was set.
First chemotherapy therapy was on April Fools Day. Ha!
Short Sassy Haircut Before Chemo
Angelique The Red
On The Twelth Day
Horror on day twelve. I ran my brush through my hair and strands came out in my hand. I couldn't believe it was happening to me. Every time hair came out I winced at the reality of my loss. Everyone knows someone who has lost their hair. The opinions on what to do when the hair loss starts vary. Some say, "Shave it immediately". Some like me, go into denial keep telling themselves, "You don't look like you have lost too much hair".
I was out of town at a conference the day my hair began to fall out. I woke up with hair all over the hotel pillow. To wear Marie the wig or not was the question. My colleagues said you look fine either way. I didn't wear the wig and was horrified at how sickly I looked in the group picture.
I went home and my son buzzed my head. Deciding when to start wearing the wig or if you will wear a wig is as big a cancer crisis as treatment decisions.
Tireless The Hairless
Look For Support
My clinical trial infusions took an amazingly long time. I was a science experiment. They needed to check every little thing. While I was sitting in the infusion chair during treatment 2 there was a gal next to me. Some people want to chit chat in chemo. This was her first round. Her nurse was having trouble getting her IV started. Cheryl would tense every time the nurse started near her. I usually mind my own business. I waited to start a conversation. The hospital where I get chemo is 25 miles from home, When the gal and her nurse started talking about my town, then the church they both went to, I just jumped in with my church's name. Cheryl said,"My parents go there." She relaxed while she was talking to me and the IV slid in nicely. We talked about her parents, the wigs we got at the same place and Look Good Feel Better. She asked, "Do you want to go together"? "O.K." We exchanged phone numbers and went several days later. When you feel icky it really helps to have someone else motivate you. Temptation was great to back out on Look Good Feel Better but I felt that I had to try for Cheryl's sake.
When things seem too out of control get a red Wig!
Look Good Feel Better
The same man who fitted my wig was the main presenter. He and his assistants showed how to tie scarves and apply make-up. Learning how to make soft hats from old tee shirts was a life savior. When you don't have hair your head is sensitive. Another gal had an attractive turban on her head. Underneath the turban was something she called a Buff. Buffs are wonderful! They are soft and can be twisted into 12 different styles. I still wear mine when I bike ride, ski, and exercise. The gal with the turban volunteered to have a make-over and they had her take off her turban. I thought I was going to faint. She didn't have any hair. She was very courageous to take off her head coverings. People like her give me courage. Cheryl let out a soft gasp.
Until the lady took off her turban, then the buff, I never imagined being hairless would equal cold. Look .Good.Feel.Better. prepared me for months of sleeping with a hat. When you have no hair you get cold. A wonderful friend brought me a couple of lengths of very soft light weight knit fabric that I tied a knot at the top to make a sleeping hat. I believe it was the same material use under casts. You will have to talk with your doctor about this material.
Love This Young Girl And Her Enthusiasm
Freedom From Hair Hell
The hair on the top of my hair is curly. It grew back thick. I don't know what color it is yet. It takes time for your DNA to start working correctly after chemotherapy. I may be stuck with mostly gray and a little brown. Big Nurse had clear hair when I met her 3 months after her chemo. A year later it is luxurious dark brown. My blond friend had her hair return black. There is no telling what color you will get. My hair returned to my natural light brown after a couple of years.
Perspective is everything. When you shower after a swim showers are really short. You don't have to cream rinse your hair. Another friend congratulated me recently on freedom from Hair Hell? She said, "You know, when you want to stop coloring your hair, but can't because the roots show". Only people who have chemo are successful at escaping the bottle".
You Are Beautiful
Losing your hair may represent losing your femininity and beauty. You are so much more than your hair. You can have lots of fun changing your wigs and hats. People don't recognize you with a wig.
One day, I was walking into a friends house when another really close friend walked in behind me. She was incensed. What was my husband was with a lovely looking women she didn't recognize. She demanded of my husband, "Where is Tireless"? She just cracked up when she realized I was the lovely lady with my husband.
Enjoy people. Do not hide because you have no hair.(Wear a germ mask if you have too because your white cell count is low) don't hide because you're hairless. The fact that you are alive makes you beautiful. Take heart, hair comes back. I understand Oblation hair therapy works if your hair is a little slow returning.
If I see you, I will walk up to you, and say with complete honesty, "You are beautiful! You are alive". And the man or women next to you will beam, because they think so too.
Laughter Makes Everything Better
A friend with a marvelous sense of humor had great fun at Christmas. There were 50 guests at the family party which, they held in their barn. The guests were playing "Where's Debbie"? She kept changing wigs all day. Everyone had a grand time.
Suggestions To Friends
One of my sons friends was diagnosed with cancer her freshman year of college. Everyone on the dorm floor shaved their heads to support her. When nobody else has hair what's the big deal?
Friends help friends laugh. Find stuff to laugh about. When the kids were little we would lay in a circle on the floor, each with somebodies head on their stomach. Then everyone started to laugh. There was nothing funny, except we looked funny laying on the floor. Once you start to laugh you laugh more and more. Laughter really is great medicine.
Friends buys friends hats they would never buy themselves.
Excellent Ideas For Friends And Family
I would like to tell you losing your hair is not the end of the world. I won't lie, it seems like it when you are losing hair by the handful. It is until you realize it is just hair. There are more important things in life than hair. Your are amazing. Nobody else can fill your shoes. You are wonderful.
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