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Post Chemo – How Long Do I Have to Look Like This??

A few months ago when I started this blog, I vowed to myself it would not become a place for me to complain or whine about cancer, treatment or recovery. I wanted to write an uplifting, informative and entertaining blog, one that could be a beneficial resource for others. I intended to accomplish this by honestly sharing my personal experience, but without complaining.

Recently I got to thinking about this self-imposed restriction and decided to cut myself a bit of slack. I have always believed one must process each component of the cancer journey and perhaps complaining once in a while is part of this process! Maybe a little complaining once in a while can even be a constructive thing, a piece of the puzzle, though hopefully a small one, or at least not the largest. Therefore, I will allow myself a post now and then where I can, well, complain! (Notice I have wisely chosen not to put an actual number on this allotment of “complaining posts”).

At the risk of sounding vain and superficial, I want to say I am sick of looking like a person with cancer. I finished my chemo at the end of October. I finally shaved my hair off on November sixth. Now it is past mid-January and I am still waiting for my hair to grow back. I am still waiting for my eyelashes to reappear. I am still waiting to get a good night’s sleep. I am still waiting for the neuropathy in my feet to dissipate. I am still waiting to walk by a mirror without cringing at the person looking back at me. I am still waiting to look and feel “normal.” Just how long does a person have to wait?

A few weeks after November sixth, my husband began saying to me, “Wow, your hair is really coming back in now.” Even though we both knew this was not really accurate, we both played along. It was a coping mechanism of sorts, a way to laugh at the situation. As the weeks went by, however, I found it to be less and less amusing. Finally, the other day I asked him to stop saying that altogether. I’m sick of hearing it! It’s not true! I am also pretty sick of wearing a wig whenever I leave the house, not that I would have to of course, but I don’t much like how I look without one. I’m getting pretty tired of covering my head. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’m not very good at applying eyeliner. (Eyeliner is what they recommended in my Look Good, Feel Better class to give your bare-looking eyes some definition) I prefer mascara, but you need eyelashes for mascara!

Last week my son had a few college friends of both sexes visit. It was the first visit from “strangers” in a while, the first visit from people not familiar with my “new look.” I realized I was pretty used to looking at my hairless or covered-up head. My family is as well. My dogs definitely are.

When I realized we were having “unaccustomed to cancer company,” I panicked a bit. I worried about how my son’s friends would see his mother. I debated about plopping on my fake hair. Shamefully, I must admit, I was truly anxious about something as unimportant as how I looked.

I finally decided to just go with the real me, with a turban that is. I wasn’t being brave or anything. They were going to be overnight guests, so I would not have been able to wear my wig that long anyway. I can only stand wearing a wig for a few hours at a time.

After his friends left a day or so later, I asked my son what his friends had said about me and my hair, or lack thereof.  He looked at me with one of those “What are you talking about, Mother?” expressions on his face, shrugged his shoulders and casually said, “Nothing, they didn’t care about that.”

Once again, I was quickly reminded we so often burden ourselves with self-imposed feelings and worries, (perhaps sometimes even bordering on self-pity), when it’s not really necessary. The reality is others don’t care about such matters, not as much as we think they do anyway. Things like no hair, head coverings and outward appearance are not what matter. Most people really do care more about what kind of person you are and how you treat them. This amazing group of young college kids reminded me of this important lesson.

Of course, we all know outside appearances aren’t really important, but for some reason it’s still so hard to let go of superficial worries about how we do or do not look.

I decided that’s where complaining comes in handy once in a while because even though nobody else probably cares, I am STILL sick of this look!

Oh well. I’ll keep waiting. Maybe I’ll even post my “bald pictures” someday. Thanks for allowing me this “complaining post.” It fits into the coping category, right??

Why do we worry so much about our appearance anyway?

What have YOU learned about your appearance, cancer or not?

If you’ve had chemo, how long DOES it take for the hair to come back?? Eyelashes??

 

Too much to hope for?? Especially since my eyes are brown!!
These would be nice?? I can dream, can't I??
Maybe I'll just keep avoiding these a while longer!

101 thoughts on “Post Chemo – How Long Do I Have to Look Like This??

  1. What a great post Nancy, and well you know me, I certainly love a good rant ! The first thing is, I’m trying to imagine what you must look with a “turbine” on your head. It must be very heavy, yes? But seriously, this hair growing thing does take a bit of time. I think mine was well over a year, before I felt like I was starting to look like me again. And I’m afraid to say that I don’t think my eyelashes or eyebrows fully recovered. They’re there but they need a bit of help from the old makeup bag. I think I would class this focus on appearance as another one of the unfortunate side-effects of cancer. Because it takes away so much of our physical selves, as well emotional selves, so it’s perfectly natural to be feeling this way. But be patient my friend, although easier said than done, you’ll have a brand new crop of thick lustrous hair before you know it. 😉

    1. Anna, Your comment about the “turbine” gave me a good laugh! And I always thought I was such a good speller! That one slipped by me. Thanks for the encouraging words. I know these things aren’t that important really, but sometimes it just all gets so old. All of it.

  2. Nancy,

    Don’t fret, it will come back. My hair, eyelashes and eyebrows came back thicker and longer than before. So there may be hope.

    My last chemo was Oct. 8 and I started getting stubby eyelashes in early December. Now my hair does grow fast. Now I almost feel like a hairy beast (albeit with very short hair). Last time, I also found my eyelashes grew, broke and then grew again.

    I’m sure you’re beautiful, with or without hair. But don’t worry, it will come back in the not-so-distant future (as will the sparkle in your eyes and the colour on your cheeks). Good luck!

    1. Thanks for your positive reply. Gives me positive hope. Girls lets all be patient and keep the positive. It really is part of the cure

  3. Of course we care how we look! Don’t apologize. The space alien look only goes so far. Even when you get past being startled by your own appearance in the mirror, you just get plain sick and tired of looking plain and sick.

    Good question on the how long does it take to grow eyelashes back. I don’t remember. Chemo brain does come in handy from time to time. One day they weren’t there and the next day they were. I just remember thinking thank goodness underarm hair doesn’t grow that fast!

    XOXOXO,
    Brenda

    1. Brenda, I’m always happy to see you back and thanks for your comments. I feel as if I should not be worrying about such trivial things when you are coping with such greater issues. I know you understand where I’m coming from though. Wishing you strength to face each new day.

  4. Don’t apologize for sharing how you really feel about things. I think that is one of the good things about a blog, especially when one is fighting cancer. I too am waiting for the normal look to come back. I’m using Ovation Cell therapy for my hair-hopefully that will help it grow faster. I didn’t lose all my eyelashes, so I can still do mascara. But I find I like to just fill in the eyebrows and put on some base and blush most days.

    1. Tonya, Thanks for reading and taking time to comment. I’m finding it hard to even remember what my normal look was, but maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know!

  5. I finished chemo in April and started going “topless” (no wig, scarf, etc..) in July…but that’s because it was 112 degrees out! I think the first few months are the slowest, after that it starts to grow at a normal rate. Like one of the other commenters, my eyelashes came back and then fell out again, so that took longer so for that all I can say is…pencil eyeliner, not liquid (easier and somehow more “mascara-y” which I’m sure is a word!).
    You will get there!

    1. Teresa, It’s good to hear what you experienced. I wonder why your eyelashes fell out again. Did you decide to get that prescription yet? Thanks for the eyeliner advice too.

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Don’t apologize for complaining. I say, rant and complain as much as you want! Honest feelings are good and should be shared. We all have moments when we struggle with our self-image and reading similar thoughts from another person makes you realize that you are not alone in those negative moments.

    1. Jennifer, I really enjoy the gorgeous photos on your blog. The flowers are beautiful, but I must admit the pictures of your dogs are the ones that drew me in and are my favorites! Thanks for coming by and sharing your comments.

  7. Nancy,

    My mom only wore her wig once! She said it was way too itchy and she would rather go without. She was definitely a scarf lady, and boy did she wear them well 🙂 I am sure she felt insecure, but her pride never let it show, and no one ever took a second glance or made a big deal about it. I remember in high school, I had a good friend of mine come over, and my mom said, “Look Brittany, it’s too hot and I’m too tired, so… I’m bald okay?” Not like my friend had been convinced that she was hiding a full head of hair under her scarf for the past few months, but she just laughed and that was the end of it.

    I think it’s different when it’s you and not someone else; we are always harder on ourselves. Story of my life since I am sometimes on camera for my journalism videos. I am harder on myself than you- and I have hair! Hair that is at a really awkward stage of growth from the short bob I had a few months ago that I am trying to grow out again. See, there I go again 😉 Cancer or no cancer, insecurities and complaints are always part of the game of life! Thank you for having the courage to write about it- it’s not easy!

    1. Sami, You are so right, we are always much harder on ourselves. Unlike your mom, I’ve never really figured out how to wear scarves successfully. I usually end up looking too gypsy-like. When we have hair, we usually aren’t satisfied either I guess, so maybe we’re never completely happy with how we look! Just have to live with whatever we have (or don’t have!) I guess.

  8. Hi Nancy,

    Firstly I think it’s perfectly normal to care about how you look. Once you feel you look better you will start to feel better..the two are connected so it makes sense to me to be bothered by it.

    I hate that I look like an ill person still. Although mine is not due to the Chemo…I too look forward to the day I look into the mirror and see the real me back again rather than the worn out, grey, thin person who reflects back at me.

    However, your son is correct. Others don’t see you that way. We are our own worst critics I think.

    About the complaining…it’s good to moan sometimes because then when you read your blog back and remember how you felt back then, you can *see* the progress you’ve made.
    Whinging is necessary sometimes 🙂

    Carole xxx

    1. Carole, You are right, how we look and how we feel are connected, even if we don’t want them to be. Thanks for your feedback! How did the tea with the Queen go??

  9. Nancy thank you so much for posting on a topic close to my own heart.
    It does seem that the very things we believe will ‘set us aside’ are the things no one else notices.
    The truth is that maybe there are many people that realise our hair, looks etc are not who we are.
    For you, I really do hope that those little hair follicles are working overtime.

  10. Nancy, you’re among friends–complain! I have my rants, as I call them, on my blog every now and then!
    RE: hair loss. Initially I cried, and then I embraced it. It was wonderful not having to worry about how my hair looked; men AND women open doors and act nice(r) to bald women; I didn’t have to TWEEZE–thank God almighty! You’ll get your hair back before you know it and this will be a memory. I promise. Trust me. Go ahead, rant. 🙂

    1. Lisa, Thanks for your comments. I’ll have to look for one of your rants! I am prettty used to the hair situation and most days am “fine” with it; just once in a while I do get so sick of it.

  11. I hated my wig so much that I never wore it, but I got really tired of wearing hats! I could never master the art of wearing scarves, either, and I had some beautiful ones. I promised I would never, ever cut my hair once it started to grow back! (I broke that promise, but my hair did get pretty long before I had a real cut instead of just trims.)

    1. Ginny, I was thinking about how long I’d wait until I cut my hair after it does come back the way I want, so hearing about your promise to never cut yours again is interesting. I wonder if other people let theirs grow out really long at first too. Thanks for sharing about your experience!

  12. Nancy, it’s your blog, rant if you want to. You’re actually ranting on a topic that touches so many. One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that no matter how personal something seems to me, there’s always someone else thinking or feeling the same things. So say it loud. We’re all happy to read it.

    BTW, I’ve been trying to comment on the nice things you said on my blog today, but I’m having frustrating problems posting to my own blog! Please know, your words carry a lot of weight with me. Thank you so much for your comments.

    1. Stacey, You are always so supportive! It’s nice to know you’ll keep reading! ha. Hope you get your technical troubles figured out, they are pretty darn frustrating aren’t they?

  13. I enjoyed being bald, it was a hot summer and it felt good walking around like a naked egg. Lol. I have never grasped the way of making fancy smancy knots in scarves. half the time they rode up anyway. At home I never wors a scarf or hat. If someone came to the door that’s what you got a bald lady hahahaha.. I went to a place where they apply makeup and I was given an eyebrow shaper and a pencil as close to my hair as possible. It worked well. I didn’t bother with eye makeup, no point.
    The day my hair was about 1/8th of an inch the scarf came off!!My hair is a little more than 3 inches now. I can at least get my small curling iron over the hair… lol It’s not as thick as it was but who cares…..
    On a serious note complain all you want our bodies have been through the wringer.It does take awhile to get back to normal. The nueropathy in my hand is likely permanent. It causes a great deal of discomfort.You just keep moving on…….. Alli xx

    1. Alli, Well, I have definitely noticed it is much cooler with no hair, that’s for sure. I never really gave that part much thought before. Too bad your neuropathy is likely here to stay. I hope you prove them wrong. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Alli.

  14. This is a good reminder for all of us not to worry so much about how we look. No one really cares! We judge ourselves way more than others judge us.

    And people like to hear a little complaining. It gives them a chance to complain right back!

    1. Lindsay, You’re right, others don’t care as much as we think they do about such things. You know, I never thought about complaining in that light, that others can likewise complain. Good point!

  15. Totally agree with this post. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should have been more of a whiner during treatment. Now I feel like I’m on a long car ride toward normalacy and I keep saying “Are we there yet?” Thanks for the comments on my blog. It really sounds like we are at about the same point in the post treatment recovery. Maybe hair grows faster in the spring? We can hope.

  16. My last chemo was 3-10-09 and I finally retired the wig around July 25. I did not lose my eyelashes and eyebrows until after I stopped chemo. In May 2009, I had no hair on my face or head. Then the eyelashes would grow back and then fall out again after a few months. It has been almost 2 years since I stopped chemo and finally I have all of my original hair.

    1. Sue, Thanks for reading and leaving comments on this. I guess it does take a while to get all your hair back then doesn’t it? I’m glad to hear you have come so far! Hope you’ll keep reading!

  17. Hey Nancy!

    I love this post and when I get more time I’m going to read everyone’s comments. I love to compare progress as it makes me feel not quite so lonely in my homeliness!

    I think we care about our appearance because we are raised to (more than boys at least). Plus, we see society assessing much of our value based on the gloss in our hair and the curve of our waists. While we may hear it is what is inside that counts, that is not what we see around us. And that’s a hard think to unlearn.

    I have learned that while it may be super keen for me to think I look cute some days, alive is better than dead. Staying alive cost me a bunch of hair, one boob and a passel of lymph nodes. And given this new context, I have to tell you I just don’t care as much about what I look like. Whereas in the past I may have striven for cute, now most days I go for “not weird.”

    I’ll give you an update on my progress. I am 13 months past my last chemo – and 3 months past my last herceptin. During chemo I lost most of my eyelashes and eyebrows and almost all of my hair, from head to toes. I would say 75% of my eyelashes have grown back. My eyebrows have grown in a bit, but are so much lighter than before that I have to draw in the halves past the arch. My hair is a puffy delight. Before chemo, my hair went half way down my back, now it is about 4 inches long and curly (so it looks more like 1 1/2 inches long). My face is no longer as puffy as it once was either, which is great.

    I had a wig that was relatively comfortable but it was so thick on top that I didn’t look like me. The thing that worked a treat was a half wig (no hair across the crown, just a ring of shoulder length hair that had bangs) that I wore with slouchy hats. I swear, as God is my witness, my neighbour across the street who saw me several times a week never even knew I had gone through chemo until this past week when she asked me about my cute new short haircut! 🙂

    1. Cyn, You have written some very wise comments here! It sounds like you have made great progress with the hair regrowth. I keep reminding myself it takes time, but I do get impatient and sick of this look. We hear such mixed messages about the importance of looks, but regardless, our looks do affect how we feel about ourselves. As for the wig thing, I think someone should tell wig makers to not make them so thick, nobody’s hair is really like that! Funny story about your neighbor! Did you tell her all the details then?

  18. Nancy, I don’t think you’re whining at all. Having emotions about everything we’re going through is basically one of the side effects of treatment! Even if you wanted to rant or whine, that would be perfectly okay. But this doesn’t read as a rant or a whine, it’s thoughtful and insightful just like all your posts.

    You inspired me to post about this in my own much-neglected blog – http://tracys-breastcancerblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/hair-again.html – but I also want to say I think you’re right that most people don’t care nearly as much as we think they do. I did find I was self-conscious enough that every time I went out in public without a headcover I was armed with withering retorts I could sling back at anyone who said anything rude to me about my baldness – as if anyone would!

  19. -neuropathy hands / feet

    -discolored fingernails (that are draining and painful)

    -shaved my head before chemo(the only control I had )

    -eyes run constatly(at times I get a break and my eyes well up and not run down my cheecks)

    -dry mouth

    -lack of taste (depends on the type of food)

    -heartburn (only when eating anything with gravy)

    -pain in joints (intermittent)

    -fatigue

    -forgetfulness(intermittent)

    -chemopause(hot/cold flashes)

    -period stopped a month or so when chemo started

    -dizziness

    I thought I would start out with the side effects I have before I forget( LOL)

    Seriously it was refreshing to read that someone else feels the way I feel:
    When will I return to myself?
    When I look into th mirror I do not see myself.My husband is kind but a bad liar when he tells me “I look the same to him” I know this is not true he is just trying to be as supportive as possible. I too see a chemo patint when I look in the mirror. No eyelashes ,no eye brows and the shape of my eyes look different.
    Just typing this information is hard I have to go back due to missed words because of the neuropathy. This really sucks!!! Chemotherapy takes away your feminity. I don’t feel like I used to. Prior to chemo I enjoyed my large selection of shoes.I enjoyed chosing what i am going to wear for an event or going out. Now I go out and chose what ever, usually jeans that are three sizes to big for me ,tee shirt and sandels(no choice due to neuropathy of my feet)
    I finished my last does of chemo july
    8th today is july 15th.Although it has only been week I was hoping to see some change.How long will it take? when will I return to me? Thanks for letting me vent

    1. Wanda, Thank you for commenting. I’m glad to hear you are finished with chemo, that must feel good! Be patient with yourself. It will take a while before you feel like yourself. I finished chemo in October and I still have issues. My hair is growing back, but slowly and some days it is really frustrating, but… Some changes are permanent, but you learn to adapt the best you can. Good luck and I’m glad you found my blog. Venting here is always welcome!

  20. Nancy!

    I’m interested to see how things are for you now. It’s been a while since you wrote this rant. How is your hair coming along, and your eyelashes and eyebrows too?

    7 months ago I was diagnosed with an osteosarcoma on my knee. I had 3 months of high dose chemo which killed my hair and eyelashes within a week :'(. I then had a ‘top of tibia and fibula, total knee and half of my femur’ replacement which was absolutely no fun! Huge big 35cm long scar to prove it. I then started chemotherapy again 6 weeks after surgery and I’m scheduled to finish in just over 2 months (one week before my 18th birthday!! Best present!). I cannot wait for my hair and eyelashes and eyebrows to all grow back. Before chemo I had gorgeous long waist length blonde hair and I too hate looking at myself in mirrors now. I look so different than the 17 year old I used to know.

    Do you think your eyelashes and hair is all back to normal-ish now? I’m dreading the ‘chemo curl’ because I had naturally straight hair. Did you ever get it and has it grown out?

    So many questions, I apologize!

    Thanks, Olivia xoxoxo 🙂

    1. Olivia, I’m sorry you’ve been going through so much agony. I’m sure it’s been awful for you. No 17 yr old, or 97 yr old for that matter, should have to go through such crap. When you finish chemo, things should start growing back. The rate is different for everyone. No surprise there. My hair has come back, although slowly. It does have a bit of a wave and I’ve always had straight hair. It’s definitely different, but it’s hair, so I’ll take it. My eyelashes have also come back, but not really exactly like they were either. It all takes time, so give yourself that gift. Don’t hate yourself when you look in the mirror. You are still YOU. I won’t tell you it’s just hair and it doesn’t matter because it does matter. But you’ll get through this. I hope you have the support of family and some good friends who are there for you no matter what. Good luck finishing up chemo – that will be a great birthday present!! Keep me posted!

    2. Hi Olivia,

      Not sure if you’re still on this blo- it’s actually my first time ever reading a blog. Just wanted to tell you the first time I had chemo- 20 years ago- I lost all my curly hair and really wanted it to grow back straight No such luck. My sister’s straigh hair grew back curly and her doc tld her it wouldn’t last more than 5 months. I’m in chemo again now and since my hair didn’t grow back straight 20 years ago, I got myself a great straight wig and am loving it. Hope you’re well on the way to normalcy now. Joan

  21. I am so glad I found your blog! I am 2/3 of the way through 12 cycles of chemotherapy and am getting pretty tired of being strong and positive all the time. The truth is I feel like I’m living in a fog, I’m tired of being tired, and I hate to look in the mirror. I haven’t lost all my hair but probably at least 50%, which led me to cut about 8 inches off. That has helped, but it’s so thin and wispy that I feel like crying every time I touch it. My eyes tear all the time and the undereye circles are so bad that no amount of concealer can cover it up, plus the skin is painful and irritated from the chemo tears. My tastebuds are messed up and I haven’t enjoyed a cup of coffee in months. There’s more to whine about, but I can’t bring myself to do it because I’m supposed to be STRONG and BRAVE! Every time someone compliments me on my positive attitude, I want to scream and say “BUT I’M REALLY SCARED AND TIRED OF NOT BEING ME ANY MORE.”

    My side effects aren’t as bad as they could be and they do subside somewhat between treatments, but it still isn’t fun and this is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I finish up on March 8 and am counting the days. I hope my hair comes back quickly and all the bad side effects go away quickly, but at least I’m alive and have a very good prognosis. So I will continue to be strong and brave and positive….most of the time. But sometimes a rant helps, doesn’t it?

    1. Debbie, I hear you loud and clear!! I don’t blame you one bit for feeling the way you do. You should not feel a need to put on a brave front for others. That is more for their benefit than yours in my view. You should feel free to acknowledge all your feelings for what they really are. YOURS! I’m glad you are this far into the chemo – you’ll soon be done. I finished up in October of 2010 and I simply could not wait for Halloween that year! I am really glad you found my blog too. Check out my anger post and my “Having an attitude about Attitude” post. Hope you’ll find them helpful. And feel free to rant away here any time. Ranting can be good for your health, if you just know when and where to do it!

  22. Wow Nancy , I was in need of an outlet and you gave it to me. Some of us spend so much time being strong we forget it is okay to whine and rant for a little bit. I am 2 1/2 months past my last chemo. I never wore the wig, but mastered hats and scarves. I must admit I did not miss shaving my legs!!!! My hair is about an inch now and my 22 year old daughter and a friend from work are encouraging me to go hat and scarf free. I would, but I so do want my face back, It still looks puffy, or is that just my new post chemo face? Eventually I know that my weak legs will return and my face will not be AS puffy. All in all, we fought the fight and WON.

    1. Maria, Welcome! We all need a safe place to rant a bit don’t you think? A person cannot keep up the strong front 24/7 without going a little crazy. I’m glad to hear you are now post-chemo. I never did master scarves…good for you for doing so! You know what, my face still looks puffy to me… Oh well. Hope you are feeling well these days. Good luck with everything and be patient with yourself. Keep me posted.

  23. Nancy, I loved reading this. I was trying to find out why my lashes had fallen out 8 weeks after final chemo and how long it would take for them to grow back when I came across your blog. All sounds so familiar. Trying to pretend it’s ok when you really hate it.
    I’m a scarf person but have been going out “as I am” more and more. Hot and humid Dutch summers are my excuse. The Dutch are not known for their manners so one has to have a thick skin. After six months or so, the hair doesn’t really matter (or so I tell everyone) but I’m really pissed off about the eyelashes.
    I hope your reflection is more to your liking now.

    1. Angela, Thanks so much for finding my blog. Losing the hair is a huge deal, but losing the eyelashes was even harder for me too. Go ahead a feel “pissed off.” A lot of “trying to pretend it’s okay when you really hate it,” goes on doesn’t it? I think that could be a blog post title! ha. I’m still far from thrilled with my new appearance, but… thanks so much for sharing. Hope to hear from you again.

  24. HI! my hair has begun to grow back now about 8 weeks post chemo. i had gorgeous thick hair- i always wore it short- so i decided just before starting chemo to shave it all off-i wanted control and watching my hair shed like my german shepherd- was not it for me. and thanked my mom for turning me whilst an infant – nice shaped head lol [the things we think of]

    i hate wigs so i styled the scarves, matching them to my outfits. i also used eyeliner and eyebrow pencil when i went back to work- my off days everything was off.

    i think more than missing my head hair, eyebrows, lashes [definitely didnt miss shaving my legs and underarms] i was most disturbed by my loss of pubic hair-looking like a 7 year old when your 55 isnt comfortable- at lest for me. funny how i never read that from anyone else. it was my femininity is suppose–i was able to look ok with makeup and scarves, but once naked well — all bets were off as they say. i was concerned about my partner’s reaction to all this hair loss- he was perfect-never showed any evidence that any of it bother him- to him it would grow back and so it goes.-and yes it does..

    the process is slow- but i am amazed what our bodies had endured and how they bounce back. i am most surprised right now is how strong and long my nails have grown- like wow

    all things in good time will return. as for the neuropathy i HIGHLY recommend vitamin B6 100mg one daily and L-Glutamine 1,000mg 4 times a day- they were god sends for me- i started taking them just before chemo and will continue to for about 1 year- it takes a while to build up in your system- but i protects your nerves and really cuts down on the neuropathy pain

    i wish you continue healing on your journey–
    Liz

    Ovarian Cancer staged 3C diagnosed Jan 17, 2012

    1. Liz, Thank you for sharing what you’ve experienced and for your recommendations as well. You’re right of course, our bodies are pretty darn amazing. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. Thank you and I wish you continued healing as well. Keep us posted.

  25. WOW! Glad I found this blog…..I honestly thought I was the only person to start losing their eyelashes 8 weeks after my last chemo. I thought the side effects were over…hahaha jokes on me. I have stayed so positive and upbeat from day 1, OK day 3. Now i’m just so ready for life to get back to “normal” precancer living! Hugs to all of you brave warriers!

  26. I can totally relate…I just finished chemo 3wks ago, but I am soooo tired of feeling like I have to put on makeup (eyeliner mainly) to look halfway normal…yes, I too am tired of looking like a cancer patient! I do go most places just bald…my big blingy sunglasses help!! Though since school started I have been wearing my hats again as my kids, (4th and 5th grade), are a little sensitive about me taking them to school bald…

    1. Jennifer, I hear you. I’m glad you are finished with chemo and I completely understand what you mean. It’s interesting that your kids feel sensitive about your baldness. I think that’s pretty typical. Thanks so much for sharing. My best.

  27. Nancy –
    My daughter found your website as I am 5 weeks post chemo and very discouraged that I do not see any hair growth yet. Your blog and the responses to it were very encouraging to me. I will try to be patient. Best wishes to you. Barb

    1. Barb, Thanks so much for finding my blog, and thank you to your daughter too! I have a few posts on hair, so I hope you find them helpful. The rate of regrowth is pretty individual, too, so be patient and above all be kind to yourself. Best wishes to you too. Hope to hear from you again.

  28. Reading all the comments have been amazing. I am a 2 time cancer surivor, had Hodgkins 20 years ago, and just finished chemo for breast cancer. I also shaved my head after chemo #1, knowing from the first time around it would all come out anyways. I don’t remember losing my eyelashes the first time, but I have none now… good to know they will come back as I miss them. I was never a scarf person, have a nice little cap or go bald… loved it this summer which was hotter than all hell. Good lck to you all… it does improve. I also never experience neuropothy 20 years ago, half my feet are numb now… hopefully this comes back as clipping the toe nails is a little scary not being able to feel the tips of my toes…

    1. Vivienne, Thanks so much for sharing about your experiences. Sorry you’re going through all this again and sorry you’re experiencing some neuropathy in your feet. Sometimes this improves with time, so I hope that’s the case for you. Good luck with things and do keep me posted.

  29. Thanks for ur post nancy
    My 3 yr old is losing her hair again. I noticed the hair color change 3 weeks ago and saw the clumps coming out last night. We were on the hospital last week and got approval to stop chemo a month early and now were the rare few that lose hair again. All she does is look at herself in the mirror all day playing dress up and people stop me on the streets tasking if I curl her hair. She has princess hair that is amazing and now were losing it again right when we’re suppose to be done with all this crap. She use to call her hats her “haircuts” when she was 2 and would put and balance weird stuff on her head and call them “haircuts” and say ” don’t touch my haircut” Oh well hopefully it grows back and guess this is part of that stuff that is suppose to make us all stronger and more appreciative of our gifts. Cheers to you and your family and we send prayers and admiration to you

    1. Jen, Thanks so much for finding this post and for taking time to comment on it. I’m sorry your child is going through chemo, hair loss and all that comes with an illness. My heart goes out to you. I hope things go well for your daughter. My very best to you and your family.

  30. Hi Nancy, I found your blog while searching for information on hair growth after Chemo. I finished my chemo in May, I had very long thick hair before. now after 4 months of chemo,I have very short frizzy curly hair which frankly looks like mice had a field day on my head. Its too short to get it styled too. The wig I bought is very uncomfortable and HOT. what is worse is I have now hair on side of cheeks and neck where I dont want it. 🙁 wonder if anyone else had this problem.
    I have a family wedding in a month and I will be seeing many relatives who are not aware of my condition and who have only seen me with long hair and my avowed love for long hair. I am not too sure I want to open the topic and keep talking about it, I would rather enjoy the occasion. I dont think I am running away from facing relatives but there is no point in rehashing it with everyone. My family knows and supports, thats enough for me. So I was wondering If I should go back to the wig ( uncomfortable) or what. I read your comment and felt I am not alone in worrying about this “seemingly trivial” matter of how I will look to others and checking in the mirror everyday to see if my hair has grown a minuscule cm longer .

    1. Usha, Thanks so much for finding my blog. You are definitely not alone in worrying about this “trivial” matter. Nothing about this is trivial. I’m sorry about your diagnosis and all that comes with it. And hair loss is a huge deal, as is waiting for it to grow back. As far as the wedding, you will have to decide what you are most comfortable doing. I had a wedding when I was bald and wore a wig even though it was summer and super hot. It was just easier for me, but you should do what you feel like doing. Be patient with yourself as you adjust to all the changes. And also, you aren’t alone with the cheek/neck hair growth. I noticed the same thing at first and yes I shaved it off. Good luck! Keep me posted on things.

  31. Hi Usha,

    Sorry this is after the wedding but hope this can help anyhow. This is the first time I’ve ever been on a blog so…
    I, too, got a wig shortly before my son’s wedding. As Nancy said, this is a tototally individual choice. My thought, even though the wedding is over, is that if you’d feel more comfortable with a wig, you should try to find a more comfortable one. I tried on several before I found one I liked. I ended up with a synthetic wig because it’s so easy to take care of, but you have to be REALLY careful around steam as it will fry the wig. I learned that 20 years ago the first time I was in chemo and totally fried it:-( I’m not saying I love wearing a wig but it’s certainly easy to get ready in the morning and my hair ALWAYS looks good. I’ve even had people ask me for the name of my beautician, and no I didn’t buy the most expensive wig out there but I did buy a mid-range one. I did, however get a straight wig with bangs (to hide my non-existent eye brows) and am having a blast. I had reallty curly hair and was too lazy to blow it dry. Figured I might as well have fun with this and live my hair fantasy:-) Also, you can get a free wig from the ACS in most places. They’ll work with you and sit with you for as long as it takes to find something you like. Good luck to you with whatever you decide to do. BTW, what did you decide to do for the wedding? Most importantly, did you have a good time?

    Nancy, thanks for having this blog out there. I ran across it when I was looking for answers about when/if my eyebrows and eyelashes would grow back. 20 years ago when I had chemo all my other facial and body hair fell out but I didn’t have a problem with my lashes and brows. Not sure I’ll ever find this again, but thanks. Good luck to all of you. Joan

  32. My 21 yr old daughter had 24 chemo treatments in 6 months, ending in mid Apr 2012. She is very impatient to have her hair return to normal. Hers never fell out, just thinned a lot. She took biotin during and we think that helped. But here we are 7 mo. later and it’s thicker around her scalp but not “growing” per se. Mayhap it all depends on how much chemo, how often, and for how long, in determining when you are back “to normal”?

    1. Juli, I’m sorry your daughter has had to deal with cancer, chemo, hair loss and all the rest of it. It must be hard as her mother to watch her go through all that. I’m wondering if you daughter is on any medication now. Some of the meds have side effects including hair loss/thinning. It can take a long time for the body to recover from chemo, so I guess patience is needed. Hopefully your daughter’s hair will start regrowing more normally. My oncologist just recommended biotin to me, so I’m going to try that too. Thanks so much for sharing. My best to you and your daughter.

  33. Dear Nancy and Joan,
    Thanks a lot for your support.
    Yes I had a blast at the wedding, danced to my hearts content and was thoroughly exhausted afterwards and yes I went with my short frizzy hair.
    Sometimes it takes a different mind to set things in perspective. Joan, (I live in Middle east/ wedding in India) I did buy a new wig, with bangs to cover the peeping fringes of my own hair but I understood that more than anyone else commenting on my hairstyle, I wasn’t comfortable with it. My niece nailed it right when she said ” a year back you were happy to be just alive, now you are concerned what others think of your hairstyle? If you are happy with yourself, you wont bother with other’s comment.I am happy you are here for my wedding and I couldn’t have imagined my wedding being so happy without you, so there” .
    I just decided then to be more comfortable and went ahead with my “made manageable with conditioners and herbal coloring ” short hair and stopped worrying. I answered raised eyebrows with a wide smile and thanked God for his mercies . enjoyed the wedding and a long holiday with family .Who knows maybe I will retain this hairstyle. 🙂 Sometimes changes thrust themselves on us to make things better for us ??

    1. Usha, I’m thrilled to hear you had a blast at the wedding. Good for you for embracing your new short hair! It sounds like the experience was empowering for you and that’s just great. Thanks for reporting back in!

  34. I had chemo for lymphoma. I shaved my head early, wore a wig, hats, and bandanas. Summer was really hot.But,never went bare headed, couldn’t do it. Now, 6 months after last chemo, hair is very short. Hate the colour. Head feels cold w/o a hat or wig. Looking forward to getting it highlighted soon.But, I doesn’t feel like my old hair,it is so fine.will be a while before I go without a head cover. I realize this is psychological, and would like to get over it.

    1. Debbie, Oh boy do I relate. Sorry you are feeling dissatisfied about your hair. You are not alone. My hair is still nothing like it once was and I don’t know if it every will be again. There are many adjustments one must make during or following treatment and adjusting to an altered body image is certainly one of the challenges. Allow yourself time to make these adjustments, and this includes adjusting/adapting to your “new” hair look, whatever it might be. Thank you for stopping by. My best.

  35. I just loved reading all these comments. It has helped me greatly. My last chemo was Nov 2012. I never lost my eyelashes or eyebrows they just thinned out. My hair is growing back, but very slowly. I did however have to shave my legs for the first time in months. Not looking foward to that every other day. And, I was hoping that my chin hairs wouldn’t grow back, but they are there. The one thing that I did and still doing(at least until my hair gets alittle longer) is wear wigs. I have 5 of them. They are all different colors and shapes. No one ever know what I will look like from one day to the next. I have found that if you wear the net headcover under your wig it stops the itching and the sliding of the wig. It’s not to hot because it’s a net. I didn’t like to look at myself in the mirror when I was bald. And, I wouldn’t let anyone see me bald. It has taken a toll on my self esteem, but like my hair I assume that will come back as well. Thank you so much for sharing your blog. It really gave me peace and hope.

    1. Regina, I know, aren’t the comments from everyone great and so helpful? It’s funny how those annoying little hairs do find a way to grow back… Wow, five wigs, that must be kind of fun. Thanks for the tip about the net to wear under a wig. I had an under-wig cap as well, but it wasn’t a net. It helped keep me cooler a little bit, but just a little. Thanks so much for reading and for sharing.

  36. Thanks for the encouragement, Nancy, as I hope you are encouraged by discussion. As much as I had support from my family, I had some bad days (chemo for NHL) where I would have a good cry. However, we are fortunate that we have the chance to carry on in life and not get potentially severely ill. Just after my final and sixth chemo session, and during my radiation treatment, I was feeling very tired, thinking it was the RT. The cause was low WBC, which allowed my system to contact a virus which caused by left ear to go deaf. There was a 30% chance to recover it with small doses of prednisone, if taken within the first two weeks as I found out too late. I feel that doctors should keep better track of WBC soon after chemo.
    On the brighter side, the hair is growing back, eyebrows never really went away, stopped using mascara so as not to aggrevate lash loss. Went to a Look Good, Feel Better class early on in treatment, got head shaved early, fitted a wig early. Figured out my good and bad days early so I could enjoy family gatherings. Nails are now even stronger than before (go figure!).
    As far as hats go right now, they are accepted since I am in the colder part of the country. I researched about how fast hair grows. For me, the rate in winter is slower than in summer. I am patient, with wearing fashion winter hats and, at times, my wig. I don’t like really short hair, especially grey hair, so I will be patient. I’m looking forward to next month when I can at least highlight it, and then, perhaps, go natural. I would like to try. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading of others’ experiences.

  37. Thank you so much for the blog and all of the comments. This journey has been so hard and sometimes you feel so alone. Experiencing the shock of the diagnosis, surgery, chemo, hair loss etc., is sometimes more than I can bear, I have appreciated all the comments posted here. I finished my chemo last month. I am anxiously waiting for hair, brows, lashes and most of all energy! Thanks to all out there supporting a fellow cancer warrior.

    1. Lisa, I am so glad you found this post, found it worthwhile and took time to leave your thoughts. Thank you so much. It is a tough journey isn’t it? I’m sorry you are on it, but I’m happy to hear you finished up chemo. Be patient as you wait for your hair, brows, lashes and energy to return. It all takes time and life will never really be the same again, at least that’s what I’ve learned. Keep me posted on things. Thanks again for sharing. My best.

    2. I ran across this blog today after google-ing “when will be eyebrows come back?” I finished chemo recently as well (March 18!!) my hair is coming back quite fast but unfortunately NOT my eyebrows and lashes 🙁 i try not to look inthe mirror much but pictures are really hard! We took the kids to the aquarium this weekend and had to take one in front of the whales.. when it got posted to facebook I almost cried when I didn’t recognize myself. Then I found this blog and all these comments 🙂 at least I’m not alone right?

      1. Shelby, Oh my goodness, I’m sorry you felt so bad about that photo. And no, you are NOT alone. I still cringe at times when I look at my reflection, but… I’m really glad you found my blog post and took time to comment. The comments on this post are really something aren’t they? They are so meaningful and helpful. Thanks so much for adding to this important discussion, Shelby. And welcome!

  38. Finished treatment March 2010. Wonderful to read these comments. Wish I had access earlier. My hair grew out so madly curly. In dec last year I had a brazzilian blow. I highly recommend it. As the eye lashes are so sparse I am investigating a permanent line on the bottom. Unfortunately too costly to do eye brows., so pencil them in.wishing everybody only good health..

    1. Glenda, The comments really are something aren’t they? My eyelashes are still much more sparse than they were before. I do miss my old lashes. And the hair, well… won’t even go there. Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you good health as well.

  39. Nancy,
    Thanks for sharing your frustration. Hair, eyelashes and brows are a BIG thing. I just finished 6 rounds of chemo and do not look forward to another 6 months of this.
    It’s now July 19th. Has your hair grown back?
    Hope so.
    Thanks again,
    Laurie

    1. Laurie, I agree – hair, eyelashes, brows- losing these things is a huge deal and it’s hard. My hair has not recovered yet, even after three years. I think this is mostly due to the AIs I am on. Hair thinning/loss is one of the nasty side effects. My eyelashes aren’t what they were either… I’m glad you are finished with chemo. Be kind and patient with yourself as you heal and recover. It takes time. Sometimes lots of time. Thanks for reading and for sharing, but mostly for understanding!

  40. I am so glad to find this post. I am 5 weeks post chemo and I am finally starting to feel the chemo fog lift. I have the lightest peach fuzz on my scalp. Its a mixed blessing- its good because its 104 degrees in Texas so having no hair and not having to shave legs has been a good thing. But now that I am feeling better, I want what I see in the mirror to match how I am feeling.

    1. Karen, I’m glad you found this post too! I’m even more glad to hear your chemo fog is beginning to lift a bit. Be patient with things and yourself during this time of healing. It can take a quite a while to recover from chemo. Thanks for commenting. My best to you.

  41. i never wore a wig…just wasn’t me! It’s 9 months post chemo now and my hair is about 2 inches long! very frizzy, but i will take it

    1. Jennifer, I think it’s great you never felt the need to cover up with a wig. Sometimes I think we cover up way too much about the reality of cancer. Enjoy your new hair growth! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  42. Finished round 6 of my chemo Sept 19th. Lost all body hair save a few rogue eyebrow hairs that just wouldn’t give up. lol. And while I did joke that I was going to a Halloween party as Howie Mandel, in reality I don’t look nearly as good as he does without hair! Thank goodness for wigs! Now, (6 wks post chemo) I’m seeing ‘5 o’clock shadow’ on my head! Yeah! As far as my lashes are concerned they have come in (if you can call it that) short and light colored without a hint of upturn. Forget about trying to put mascara on these suckers! The upside to all this is my prep time for makeup and hair is a fraction of what it was pre chemo. I’m really liking that so much that I may keep a wig or two around after the hair comes back in for those times I don’t want to bother dealing with blow dryers and curling irons. (or maybe not :). Today I’ll be going in for radiation ‘simulation’. Three weeks of R treatment and I’ll be done with this whole process (and I’ll step out and say permanently

    1. Toni, I’m glad to hear you finished up chemo. I know what you mean about attempting to put mascara on those lashes. Mine are still not what they were before chemo. Frustrating, but… I have thought about wearing my wigs, too, but so far I haven’t been able to make myself do it. Good luck with radiation. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  43. Oops…hit the submit button before I had a chance to say… Thanks for taking the time to write this blog, Nancy! It’s nice to know we’re not alone out here and there is hope of a return to normalcy post chemo!
    Toni

  44. I am so glad to have found your blog. My last chemo treatment was Oct. 16th. Slowly I am noticing improvement but I am anxiously awaiting hair growth, eye lashes, etc. I am having some neuropathy, numb big toe and numb 4th toe on other foot. Such weird complaints we end up with. The paragraph you wrote about hating the mirror, wigs, etc. was so very true. I had to laugh. Why can’t I look good in scarves or turbins like everyone else? I think it is our perception of ourselves rather than how we really look. Thanks so much.

    1. Connie, I’m really glad you found my blog too! Congrats on finishing chemo. Guess what? That was the exact date I finished up on three years ago now. Things do usually improve over time, but it happens very slowly for some. Your body has been through a lot, so it takes time to heal and begin to recover. Be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself as well. And I must admit, my hair and eyelashes still have not returned to pre-chemo likeness. Not even close. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  45. My daughter finished with chemo in Jan. Lisa is just now losing her lashes .we thought since she lost her hair when starting chemo, that she wouldn’t lose the others , but just now started to do this . Is this a natural thing? Lisa ison radition now and will be through with this in April? God has been so good , she has some bad systems with chemo, but never threw up or was nauseous thank you for my ve nting , l amher mother and it so hard for thefamilys too

    1. Carole, I’m sorry about all your daughter had been forced to deal with and you’re so right, this is all horribly hard for family members too. I’m sorry about all that you’ve had to deal with too. As a mom, it’s terribly hard to stand by and witness it all I’m sure. Cancer is horrible from any vantage point. As for the chemo and lashes, well, a person just never knows what will happen I guess. Chemo affects each person so differently. I don’t think it’s all that unusual to lose the lashes later on, but she should certainly feel free to ask her doctor about this. Mine have never returned as they once were either… but that, too, of course varies greatly from person to person. My best to you both.

  46. It is nice to see this blog. I was searching the time in which effects of last chemo from body pass off completely. I have finished my last 8th cycle of Chemo on 12th April 2014 docetaxel after left breast and left axillary lymph gland removal in toto in october 2013. I searched for all possible alternatives soon after the shock of diagnosis and surgery. Then I kept on making brief notes.I found many herbs and ayurvedic preparations being used by claimants of cure or long term survival with or without medical allopathic treatment of surgery chemo or radiotherapy. I live in India and had the privilege of availability of many of these herbs or likewise products. I used them along with and throughout all the courses of my chemotherapy and found the side effects in terms of low blood counts, platelet counts and anaemia etc was within range. Liver and Kidney function etc all behaved well. I intend to continue with more herbs immunity raising, anticancer properties etc. I can inform if some one feels interested. I also got my hair shaved on 28th April

    1. Kajla, Thank you for finding my blog and for sharing about what you have done and are doing. I wish you well as you continue to recover.

  47. I am 66 yrs. old and have colored my hair for 30 years. My post chemo hair was resistant to any hair coloring. I tried spray on root concealer but it left my totally dried out looking and feeling. With luck I found a product at Ulta called Touch Back Plus. I tried the conditioner and left it on longer than suggested and got good results. It covered the hair nicely and left it softer than the spray on color. I will try the shampoo to see if it will enhance the depth of color. I have never written a blog in my life but I just had to share this with my fellow ladies who are going through a tough time and are tried of looking old because they can’t get hair coloring to work on their chemo damaged hair.

  48. Please don’t feel bad, girl, cuz we ALL go through this–its not vanity–its more that you have a self-image and it gets startling, and sometimes disturbing to see yourself in the mirror with no hair or eyebrows or lashes. Try having NO NAILS too! The Taxol caused all my toenails to peel right off and my nails are down to 1/8 in stubbs–me, who ALWAYS had her perfect mani-pedi done! I was also known for long, luscious hair. I’ve seen photos online and even after a year and a half, it seems most women still have pixie style short hair. Sigh. I live in a super hot and humid state, Georgia, so after trying to make a go of scarves, knitted hats,& wigs, I just gave it UP. I am bald. Deal with it, people. No, I’m Jewish, NOT Buddhist! No, I’m not a rock star, but thanks for asking. Just too damn hot. I wake up each morning and re-apply my eyebrows at least and keep an Avon Supershock black eyeliner with me, ALWAYS wear full make-up when leaving the house–it makes me feel better. Don’t think about looking sick, just make yourself as beautiful as possible each day, wear long, dangling, chandelier earrings, moist and lovely lipstick–anything to set off your eyes and face, cuz its gonna be a while before hair grows back. NOTE: If anyone knows something besides Biotin and B-vitamins that help NAILS grow back, please write!!

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