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Another Milestone

I hit another milestone recently.

This time it was a mostly pleasant one.

A couple of weeks ago hubby looked at me and said, “When was the last time you had a haircut anyway?”

And this question was coming from the man who would probably prefer I still wear it long, straight and flowing …

“I don’t remember,” I answered. “I guess it must be over two years ago, you know, before cancer.”

Upon examining my hair more closely in the mirror over the next few days after that question, I decided it might indeed be time for that next big step. In fact, it was past time!

I needed a haircut!

The day had finally arrived when I had re-grown enough hair to warrant a trip to the salon, but now the only question was which one to go to? I found myself asking…

Do I go to an actual beauty salon?

Do I go to the local Great Clips or Cost Cutters?

How about the mall?

Or do I drive a greater distance to go somewhere more “reputable” because clearly I needed help?

Do I return to the tiny salon I visited when wig shopping that hot July day where they treated me so kindly even though I couldn’t decide on a wig, left empty handed and cried all the way home?

So many choices…

I ended up picking the same old chain salon I used to go to.

Once I arrived in the parking lot the next question popped into my head.

You know the one, right?

Do I tell?

Do I mention this is my first haircut in over two years? Do I ask for my old stylist? Do I tell the stylist I had chemo recently or do I keep quiet?

As it turned out, my old stylist was taking a little time off. Darn.

I decided to keep quiet.

Well, that didn’t last long; no surprise there!

The stylist made some remarks about my fragile locks (yes they’re more fragile now) and suddenly I found myself blurting out, “I had chemo recently and this is my first haircut in over two years.”

Why did I tell?

I have no idea.

Maybe it was because the place wasn’t busy and no one was sitting next to me. Maybe it was because the stylist seemed kind. Maybe it was because she mentioned she, too, had trouble styling her thin hair. Maybe I needed an excuse to help explain my shaggy locks and nervous demeanor about a haircut.

Maybe I just can’t keep quiet!

Most likely it was because I told her I was struggling to figure out what to do with my new head of hair that’s lacking more than a bit of its old luster.

I wasn’t one of the “lucky ones” whose hair returned better than ever when it regrew following chemo.

I wonder if anyone actually regrows hair that is better, or if this is another one of those myths out there…

It sure didn’t happen for me.

Anyway, the very kind and soft-spoken stylist and I proceeded to have a lovely conversation. We discussed cancer, spring, hair, dogs, and other stuff.

The cancer part didn’t take over the entire conversation and that felt nice.

She offered me a few hair styling tips that I probably won’t ever try, but … you never know.

The main thing is –

I had my first post-chemo haircut!

I reached another milestone!

Still, I won’t be giving up my caps any time soon.

NOTE:  My old stylist came back for my next haircut! Yay!

Did you experience chemo-induced hair loss?

If you did, do you have your hair back yet and if so, is it different now?

If you had chemo and did not lose your hair, how did people react?

If you did not have chemo, was your hair still affected by your treatment?





Monday 7th of May 2012

My hair started to fall out a few weeks after I started chemo (Taxol). It was coming out in handfulls, so I made an appointment to have my hairdresser shave it. At the same time, my 8-year old daughter was going to cut her ponytail to donate it for cancer wigs. I had my hair shaved with the number 3 blade, so it was about an inch long all over.

It kept falling out, but never all the way. Mostly, my body hair just stopped growing. My eyebrows thinned and one day all my eyelashes fell out when I washed my face.

Then the doctor reduced my chemo dosage a bit and the hair started growing back -- the leg hair came back with a vengance. On my head, my formerly thickish wavy hair has come back very thin, especially in the front. I think it's curlier than it was, but it's still so short it is hard to tell. I had a haircut a couple of months ago to shape it, and that was helpful. Without the cut, I would have had scraggly bits sticking out under my wigs. I'm still getting chemo, so I expect things may change when (or if, since I'm Stage IV) I stop chemo.

I've found the wigs much more comfortable than I expected. I can wear them all day if I'm out. Around the house, I wore a hat through the winter, but not anymore. My daughter has asked that I wear a wig if her friends are coming over. She likes the look of one of my wigs, and I think she'd rather her friends didn't think too much about my cancer, though she has told them all that I have it.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Nancy, and for asking your readers to share theirs. I feel much more like my experience is normal, and that's not something I feel very much these days. Thank you.

I've been meaning to blog about my hair loss and wigs for some time. Your post is a good reminder.


Tuesday 8th of May 2012

Kate, Thank you so much for sharing about your hair experience. It's so helpful to read what others have and are going through. And yes, write that blog post. Thanks again for reading and sharing.


Sunday 6th of May 2012

Great post and HUGE congrats on your first post-chemo haircut. I think you absolutely did the right thing in telling your stylist about the cancer and chemo. They need that information in order to take the best possible care of your hair (and you). I definitely get trying to "pass" -- I've been doing that for a year now -- but you don't want to try to do that with your hair stylist. As for regrowth, my hair came back much mousier and much grayer, color-wise, so for the first time in my life, I had it colored (it used to be a pretty blonde). It's a dark honey blonde now, thanks to the color, but I'm hoping the sun will take it from here. ; ) As for texture, it's definitely thicker and curlier now. It was stick straight before and I would spend hours (and tons of $) on curling irons, hot rollers and hair spray. Now, I have to use product to calm it down. Go figger.


Monday 7th of May 2012

Diane, It's great to hear from someone who actually had their hair regrow thicker. Curlier might be nice too? It's funny how now you need to "calm it down." Yeh, go figure... Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Thanks for the congrats too. My hair still doesn't look like much, but at least I have some!


Wednesday 2nd of May 2012

Nancy, so many of us can relate to this post. I've read so many FB posts from friends celebrating when they actually have enough hair to cut!

I was on oral chemo for a year -- tamoxifen -- that turned my hair into straw. It was awful! My hairdresser was familiar with this phenomenon, and when I finally went off tamoxifen, we would watch from month to month to see how much of the straw had grown out. When it had grown out enough that I was finally able to have her cut off all the straw, we both felt like celebrating. I felt very grateful that she took care of my hair as well as she did through it all. Milestones come in all forms, don't they? :)


Thursday 3rd of May 2012

Kathi, Yes, tamoxifen can do a number on the hair. I'm on something similar now and I know it's the cause of some of my hair issues, along with a few others as well. It's nice you had such a helpful and compassionate hairdresser. How special you both felt like celebrating when the "straw" was gone. I think I need to find myself a hairdresser like that! Thanks for sharing.

Lori Hope

Monday 30th of April 2012

FAbulous post. Though I didn't (haven't yet, I should say...) lose my hair (chemo doesn't work well against lung cancer), I can relate to cancer-related milesstones. I'm glad you told, probably because I wouldn't have been able to control myself. And I'm glad you shared with us. And I'm glad for the reminder beause I haven't had my hair cut in forever (OMG since before my last long string of speaking engagments during Breast and Lung Cancer AWareness Months!) and it's something I need to do for myslef. For fun. Long flowing locks...when I think about cutting all mine off, words of a friend come to mind. "Get a wig! Tell your husband if he wants your hair long he should promise to wash and style it every day!" Thanks again and sending love and always hope,



Monday 30th of April 2012

Lori, I didn't realize chemo doesn't work well for lung cancer. Thanks for sharing that. Get your haircut when you get around to it - you've had a few more serious matters to attend to of late. Great comment from your friend! Thank you for reading, relating and commenting, Lori. Thinking of you.


Sunday 29th of April 2012

My sister took mega doses of vitamin D-3 to help her hair come back after chemo. It turns out she was very low. I am currently taking the same thing. The diabetic pill metformin depletes D3.


Monday 30th of April 2012

Lenise, Well, that's an interesting piece of advice. Thank you for sharing.

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