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Reflections before losing my hair

There are two side effects that are guaranteed with my chemotherapy treatment for endometrial cancer - fatigue and hair loss. The prevailing wisdom is that by day 12 (so as you read this in about another week), I'll lose my hair very quickly.





I decided to go get my hair cut a couple of weeks before chemo started to have some "control" over the change. Control is, as I know and I'm sure you do too, one of those things that is a desired feeling that is actually really meaningless. We can control our reactions to things but otherwise, we really have no control over much of anything in life. That said, trying to "fake" a degree over control over something that is such a part of my identity as my hair was important to me to start with a choice I made on this journey.


Hair and Identity

I've had long hair for as long as I can remember. My dad loathes my hair short and when I got it cut just shoulder length when I was 10 he was so upset. He still doesn't like my hair short.

It's incredible how hair forms a part of your identity, but it does. It's a part of my femininity. It's a part of my privilege because I've been able to have the resources to maintain healthy well cared for hair.


My hair signals my mood. Pony tails that get tightened when I'm gearing up for action. Buns that signal all business. Fluffy curls that signal fancy business. Pony tails on both slides that made people laugh during all the Zoom meetings of COVID and still signal my playful side. And, of course, rocking pony tails at Disney World!





Grieving the Loss

I'm writing this before the formal loss of hair. I'm writing it as a statement of grief but also as a way of noting it as a memory of a past hair cut showed up in my Facebook memories today. New haircuts are something we even celebrate on social media. It's likely going to be 12 - 18 months before I require another haircut.

My fear about losing my hair is that it's harder to keep my condition to myself. I've not tried to keep my condition secret but some people have reported judging looks in public spaces when they go bald or wear a cap but it's clear they don't have hair. It's a societal issue that I'm aware of my own guilt of in the past. I've stared at people who obviously had no hair in the past. To all of them, I'm sorry.

I'm also sad to lose the femininity that comes with having soft, wavy locks. Part of the challenge of this is that you don't know how your hair will grow back - or, I guess, in some rare instances if it ever will. Will it grow back in the same auburn/red color or will it come back in grey? Will I have soft waves or will it grow back straight? Will it grow as fast or will it grow slowly when it comes back?





To Wig or Not To Wig

When I first realized I was going to lose my hair, I was against getting a wig. However, this was predominantly based on the fact that this should be "short term" and a wig is "expensive". However, as I did more research, and realized that short term could still be more than a year and that the expense is, probably, at least covered by insurance. (That probably is a long post in and of itself).

So, the day after my first chemo session, I went into the boutique at the cancer center for a wig fitting appointment. The salesperson, Amy, was a delight and as soon as I sat down she said, "Let me grab one from the front that I think you'll like." That, is, this wig.



The band won't show once I figure out how to place the wig better.


As of now, I'm not losing my hair any more than usual but the estimate is that by Christmas it will be gone. I'm going to don by Santa hat and, if I'm feeling able, my wig, and enjoy Christmas and the future.


If you want to know more about donating hair to folks with cancer, check out this page on cancer.net. If mine grows back as strong as it always has been this will become a regular donation activity for me!

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