One of the possible side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. I prepared myself with a pre-chemo haircut. I cut my hair chin length from below the shoulders to ease into the impending loss.
After the first couple of treatments, I started to see strands of hair come off in the shower and on my clothes. It was thinning. As the treatments progressed, I grew more self-conscious about my hair. I didn’t feel the need to wear a wig or hats yet, but I had thin hair.
Thinning hair turned to hair loss
When I rang the bell after my last treatment, some strands were still hanging on. I felt hopeful after chemotherapy finished, but the hair loss was not over. About two weeks later I found massive handfuls of hair in my hands in the shower. My kids noted the occasional hair in the meal. If I reached back to put my hands through my hair, it would just come loose. My scalp became visible through my hair, so I decided to start wearing hats. Without cover, I looked like I had an old man’s comb-over. The clumps were growing larger. I am not vain, but our hair hides us and frames our faces. I clung to the idea it would thin, but not anymore.
I resigned myself to this last phase. I rarely left the house for months. When I did go out, I donned one my skull caps, the softer, the better. My scalp was tender where the hair had come out. I wore caps each day when I went to radiation only removing them in the radiation room. As I waited each day for the treatment, I sat with others who wore their own caps or wigs too.
After loss, Chia Pet hair emerges
One day I saw a young woman who had new growth. She had very short hair but wore it proudly. I had something to look forward to when I saw her. Each day I checked the mirror hopefully. Finally, I began to see seedlings. About a month after chemo finished there were signs of growth. The tiny dots on my scalp looked like chia seeds. It reminded me of the Ch-ch-ch-chia pets advertisements. Just add water, and they visibly sprouted. My hair growth was not chia quick.
Finding my way through wigs and hats
I ordered a wig, but when I tried it on it felt uncomfortable. Not just physically, rubbing against my tender scalp, but I felt like someone else. I kept it just in case, as a security blanket of sorts. In the meantime, I grew used to my hats. After I finished my radiation and my neutrophils finally rebounded to normal levels, I ventured out into the world. I was hesitant. I still felt anxiety about germs, and I looked like a cancer patient in my cancer cap. I decided to wear it proudly.
I actually have some hair now, not much, but it’s coming in. As the new hair grows, I have hair goals. I am looking forward to my pixie cut to be, but for now, I have a chia head, and that is okay. Growth is good.
Have you taken our Blood Cancer In America Survey yet?