love|blackbird

Why Losing Your Hair is About More Than Just Being Bald

           Hi guys, it’s Becky again.  Today, we are talking all about hair loss during cancer.  I’m going to tell you what worked best for me, but listen to your tribe, your inner self and other cancer warrior’s experiences. What worked best for me, might look like something completely different for you.  I’ve had the lucky experience of losing my hair to chemo 3 different times!  Luckily, although probably thinner, it grew back every single time.  Same color, same texture.  We all have different stories.  Taylor lost her hair and has struggled to have it grow back it spots.  Emalee rocked a bad ass half hair cut for her brain surgery.  I’m sure they will add their thoughts as well.

            Losing my hair, the third time was slightly easier than losing it the first.  I loved my hair, but it wasn’t so much about “being bald” for me, it was about losing the last bit of control I had over cancer.  Too me, being bald also announced to the world that I had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy.  Bad wigs and scarves didn’t help with that announcement.  After my hair was gone, there was no escaping cancer.  I couldn’t go on a mental vacation from cancer.  There were times, during chemo, that I would be sitting with friends or my kiddos chatting and feeling almost normal.  I would get up to use the bathroom and catch myself in the mirror and literally not recognize myself.  For a fraction of a second, my tribe had worked their magic and I had forgotten how sick I was; until the mirror brought everything tumbling back.  Being bald meant no escaping cancer.

            The best advice received from a friend was to find a wig BEFORE I lost my hair.  It was great as it was more of a “fun shopping” experience with friends and my mom, lunch included of course, instead of a traumatic bald outing.  I wasn’t sure it I was going to be a person that used a wig a lot or not, so I ended up getting one for free from the local cancer association instead of spending tons of money I wasn’t sure if I was going to even use.  For me, it was the best decision ever.  Turned out, I wasn’t much of a wig person.  They were hot and itchy in the summer and by the time winter came around I had lost my eyelashes and eyebrows.  I wore the wig for school activities to shield my kids friends and to a Christmas Eve church service.  I look back at those pictures and easily realize the wig did not help.  It wasn’t the wigs fault.  I was 10 pounds underweight; I had a weird tint to my skin and had lost my eyebrows.  There is no wig in the world that can help with that!  Now, if you want to talk to someone who really rocked some amazing wigs and pulled it off 100% … check out some Taylor’s amazing wig pics.  That woman looks HOT in every single kind of cheap or high-end wig out there.

            The first round, I cut my hair twice prior to shaving it bald.  A cute bob and then a week later a pixie cut.  I wanted to keep my own hair around as long as possible but didn’t want to get to the point of pulling long strands out by the handful.  Too traumatic!  If you are trying to keep your hair around for as long as possible, don’t touch it!  Comb it infrequently, pull it back in a loose pony and leave it.  That might give you an extra couple of days, but if you are on a chemo that induces hair loss, you will lose your hair.  Control the situation by approaching the loss of your hair by being in charge of your decision of how you will lose it.  I began to wake up each morning with strands of hair on my pillow.  My mom was happy to vacuum it up, but I tortured myself by watching.  I would then shower and no matter how gentle I was; clumps began to pull out.  Not fun!  Shortly thereafter, I told my husband to get his gear and go to town.  We incorporated Garrett into the activity and the kids were young, but they didn’t think anything of it from that point on.  Round two, I had the kids shave it as soon as I found out about the clinical trial I was going to embark on.  The older two kids helped, and I stayed strong and didn’t cry for the kids. I was in Saint Louis for the third round and my girlfriends, and I tried to dye it purple for a couple of days before shaving it.  It was pretty much a fail.  We didn’t want to bleach it first (too much work) and dying brown hair purple didn’t exactly take.  

            So, ultimately, you do you! Embracing the crappy situation that you have to go through seems to be the best outlook, but that may be different for you.  Across the board recommendations do seem to be:

  1. Do whatever you need to do to feel as confident as possible
  2. Your head will be cold in the winter – wear a wig, invest in hats or scarves or raid your friends closets
  3. Don’t forget to lotion that bald head of yours!
  4. Wigs can be hot and itchy.  Some find wearing a base nylon layer helpful
  5. Don’t forget to pencil in your eyebrows !! Trust us, they make you look so much less “cancerish.”  If you have eyebrows and eyelashes, people can think that you are just rocking the bald and bad ass look
  6. It is normal for your head to “tingle” or be a little uncomfortable as your hair falls out.  It seems that shaving it helps with that feeling.  Invest in a satin pillowcase!
  7. As your hair comes back in following treatment, it will feel very soft.  Don’t worry, it will keep growing and become thicker.
  8. I find it easier to be bald then the really “awkward” stage of having just 1 or 2 inches grown out.  Not enough to be styled, but also not rocking the badass bald thing anymore either.  Hang in there, it will grow back
  9. Don’t forget to trim your hair as it grows back.  There will be many awkward stages.  I was trying for as much growth as possible and caught myself in an ugly mullet situation six months in.  It wasn’t pretty and I regret someone not telling me sooner! You might find that you like that pixie haircut you never had the guts to go through with earlier in your life.

Feel free to comment below with your story or best “being bald” advice!  We are all in this together!

Xoxo,

Becky

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