Bald & Beautiful
Updated: Mar 17, 2019
What’s the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of chemotherapy? Apart from knowing what it is used to treat, it’s very much associated with hair loss and making you sick and I guess that is pretty much everyone’s perception.
When I was told I had breast cancer, after feeling devastated for my daughter and my husband, I immediately worried about losing my hair!
My hair was very precious to me, it was long and in pretty good condition considering I applied that much heat to it daily, I’m surprised I even had any on my head. So you can imagine being told that the intensity and strength of the chemotherapy would make my hair fall out within 2 weeks was devastating! Along with losing the hair on my head, I would lose my eyebrows, eyelashes and even my tash ha! I was thrilled to learn I would lose my leg, arm and armpit hair which would save me some time.
I can be my own worst enemy sometimes but to prepare myself I did download an app on my phone to see what I would look like bald. It was hideous so I sent it to my friends and family, this was nothing more than to cheer myself up and give them a giggle at a serious and upsetting situation. I do still have this picture on my phone so I will share this with you now.
I remember the day after my first chemo, I was expecting to feel sick and tired and to my surprise, I felt fine. I did wake up stroking my hair thinking the poison is that strong, would it make my hair fall out after a day, thankfully it didn’t.
My nurse advised me to get my hair cut to my shoulders so it would lessen the impact when my hair does start to fall out. She said some women will wake up with clumps on their pillow, so if the hair is shorter, it won’t seem as harsh.
I took her advice and went and got it cut to my shoulders I actually liked it, it was something I would never have dreamt of doing before because I loved how long my hair was, I would never of had the balls to cut it before, even just a trim.
This was about a week in and my head started to ache, it wasn’t yet falling out, I would pull on my hair and it remained, so I had some tough follicles clinging on up there!
The aching was very much like when you get brain freeze which would also spread to your forehead and the back of your neck.
It was 2 weeks into my chemo and I woke up this particular morning and I had strands of hair on my pillow, I was distraught. I actually believed my hair would remain for at least a few more weeks. I didn’t want to touch it as I feared any touch would result in more hair falling out. I did however need to brush it as I was venturing out, so I used one of Nevaeh’s softer round brushes, that was it, it came out in clumps! I continued brushing and strands were just folding over the brush, even before the bristles would touch the hair. I looked in the mirror and I cried, I felt sorry for myself that I was having to go through this. Once I finished, both hands were full of thin dead hair.
I had to think of a reasonable explanation to my daughter why mummy’s hair was falling out. I told her, in order for mummy to feel better, my hair needs to come out. She replied to this in true child innocence style... Mum, we can shave Caz and put his fur on your head. Kids really are the best and I love that they just say it how they see it.
My hair was receding at the roots so I decided to nip into my favourite clothing shop and pick up a bobble hat as it was that time of year that rocking a bobble hat wasn’t unusual. I still felt good about myself as I still had control, I still had the hair on my head, holding on by a thread. I had my eyebrows and all other hair remained.
I did see my best friend in town and I showed her the fantastic mess that was my hair and she did say it might be best to get it shaved now! So I did, I ventured down south as I had a break from chemo because my liver decided to go on a bender without me. I wanted to take charge of the situation and take control back so I got my brothers mum to shave my mop.
I braved the shave and it felt good, I held the bits of hair that were cut before my head was shaved and I knew I was taking a stand! I felt alive again, I felt like I could do this. Yes I had a long way to go but when your a cancer patient being able have a little control can be epic!
I rocked the Sinead O’Connor look with pride. I still had a full set of lashes and my eyebrows were still as sharp as ever. However, with every chemo week that passed, I lost some hairs from my eyebrows and my eyelashes became non existent. I would say my eyelashes went after 8 weeks into chemo and my eyebrows remained, although they were very sparse until I was into my second chemo plan on Adriamycin (Red Devil) which I would say was around week 16. I did however have one eyebrow hair left and this remained until my last ever chemo. It was a stubborn bugger like me!
My arm hair was also very stubborn, to my delight my leg hair went pretty quick along with the hair on my face, you know that fuzz that festers near your sideburns.
All in all I had 24 weeks of chemo and by the end of it I had no hair left on my body apart from a little strand of peach fuzz appearing on the top of my head.
Many women struggle with the length of time it takes for their hair to grow back, some never get their hair back which was something my nurse would remind me of. Thankfully, my hair grew back straight away, I had the Sinead look again, a week after my last chemo. My eyelashes and eyebrows were back with full force after 3 weeks and when I say my eyebrows were, they would give Chewbacca a run for his money.
This process is a journey, you prepare to lose your hair, the actual hair loss and then the re-growth. Everyone deals with loss differently, grieving doesn’t just involve people, it can be the loss of something you will miss.
I found laughing at myself was the best medicine to get through this tough time. I loved that my true friends and family would compliment me but also give me nicknames. I could be many things, I was Megamind, a fluffy microphone, a tennis ball and even an egg.
We are all beautiful with or without hair, it is just something we hide behind.
To all the men and women fighting the fight, embrace the baldness and show cancer that it may have caused you to lose your hair but the reason for you losing it is because you are taking control and kicking it’s ass!!