This is about hair loss. Scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. Lots of hair loss, and how I’m coping with hair loss while coping with chemo.
YOU might not suffer hair loss
“You might not lose your hair during chemo,” the friendly brochure said. ‘Some patients’ suffer hair loss during chemo; others do not.
So there is hope, albeit slim, that the waist-length locks will survive six chemo rounds, bouncing back to their pre-cancer glory.
‘Some patients’ find themselves with a pillow laced with waist-length locks in the morning, thinking, “Well, there goes that theory.”
Then again, you might suffer hair loss
Some patients experience hair loss faster than others. Other patients don’t lose their hair at all – or lose it slower than others.
The speed and onset of the loss depends on the chemo chemicals themselves, how aggressive the treatment is, how frequently the chemo is administered, what dosages of which chemicals are given — all sorts of variables come into play.
Some patients start looking at the hair clippers with dread, and some dive right in, letting a bald pate speak for itself —and for others. My sister Laura had her hairdresser engrave the initials KCB into the back of her head —for my motto: Kick Cancer’s Butt — which left me both in a fit of giggles and choked up with tears.
And some patients reach for the scissors in the middle of the night and take matters into their own hands, like I did:
Resistance to hair loss is futile
Apparently I’m getting the aggressive, hair-demolishing chemo chemicals frequently enough to make my hair a total wreck. I decided not to be a drama queen about it.
“The hair is going to go,” I figured, and I’d rather retrieve fallen locks that are a few inches long than fallen locks that measure two feet long or more. I’d resigned myself to reaching a point of resembling Vin Diesel (without the six-pack and smoldering eyes).
One morning around 3am, I was awakened by a sensation of extreme heat on my head. My scalp felt like it was being torched by fire ants. I raced to the bathroom, flipped on the switch, and stared at the mirror, expecting to see a line of bright red insects crawling from my hairline down my face.
No ants, no bugs, no nothing. Just pain. I looked again carefully for a few minutes, then picked up a pair of shears, and started cutting. An hour later, my hair was shoulder length, and the bathroom trash was filled with what used to be waist length locks.
The next ‘fire ant attack’ brought on my current rapid-thinning pixie cut. Sure, the hair loss continues, but it’s far less traumatic to brush away a few hundred strands of 2″ hair than a few hundred strands of 24″ hair. Trust me – and my scalp hurts less.
Resistance to hair loss is, apparently, not futile
Ironically, now that I’m going through constant hair reduction, with more scalp displaying itself every day, I am finding resources like The Rapunzel Project, a non-profit organization supporting cold cap therapy. Now I’m finding shampoo techniques to minimize the damage or delay the departures. (Cool water; don’t scrub; don’t rub with towels.)
I predict that there might be wigs in my future —not a resistance tactic, to be sure, but the American Cancer Society works with local beauty establishments and wig outlets to provide wigs to those cancer combatants in need of support. It’s an option, and one I am not ruling out.
American Cancer Society’s TLC program also offers wigs at affordable prices. It’s been a few decades since I bought a wig, so the prices felt high to me. After doing some research, I know now that their prices are rather low.
Let the Inner Child decide how to handle hair loss
Nobody says I have to handle all this like an adult. Adulting is not as fun as it sounds. So I’ve decided to let my Inner Child have a say in what solutions I pursue.
Cool hats are all the rage now. I could rock a Down East garden hat a la Katharine Hepburn in “On Golden Pond.” Toss on a ridiculously long frothy silk Hermes scarf and start speaking with a Bahstahn accent like I went to Hahvahd or some such.
Maybe a Pippi Longstockings-like yarn wig, fire engine red with lemon yellow ties at the end of braids a mile wide. Or sky blue like Wendy’s – mabe they’d give me burger coupons…
Or perhaps I should go with a touch of goth and let my Inner Queen of Hearts come out to play as well. Whatcha think… Too much?