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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?




40 thoughts to “Another Milestone”

  1. I lost my hair. When it grew back , the texture was very fine ! I’ve always worn my hair long. I never thought I’d go short , but I’ve found that it’s more practical looks better short , than it did long.

    1. Brenda, Mine has grown back more fine as well. I was sort of hoping for that improved head of hair… I’ll probably keep mine significantly shorter too now. Works better for many reasons doesn’t it? Thanks for the comment.

  2. Yes, I lost my hair with chemo. I am a teacher and hot flashes accompanied the hair loss so I proudly taught bald all of summer 2011. My hair has grown back slowly but really weird both curly and straight depending on the area of my head. I’ve had two haircuts from a wonderful stylist and th result tames the weirdness. But growing back “better” is exhibited by several members of my support group. They have pretty new hair!!

    1. Meg, Good for you for teaching bald. I bet that was very empowering for you and I’m sure it taught your students some important lessons as well. Weird hair is better than no hair I guess. Maybe. Good to hear some people actually do grow back hair that is better. Not me…oh well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Congratulations on reaching this milestone, Nancy! I could identify with a lot in your post. I lost my hair during chemo (I shaved it when it became clear it was going to fall out). I wore bandanas as I couldn’t find a wig that looked any good – had two funny/embarrassing conversations when strangers asked if I was raising money for CanTeen (a local cancer charity which sells fundraising bandanas). They both nearly tripped over with horror when I had to say “no…I’ve lost my hair during chemotherapy.” Kind of like asking someone “when are you due?” if you’re not sure they’re pregnant!

    I had long hair before this. My hair grew back fairly unevenly a first, with some bald patches – I was freaked out until these filled up again! I was advised to go for a cut as soon as about an inch had grown back, to “give the hair some shape.” When I rang to make the appointment the hairdresser asked if I’d be wanting a blowdry and I found myself bursting out laughing and then telling her that I longed for the day when I’d need a blow dry again – the poor woman got the whole story (just like you describe, I obviously had some nerves that caused me to blurt all this out!). I ended up REALLY regretting following this advice, as – while my hair was more ‘shapely’ after the cut – it was also heartbreakingly short and uncomfortably close to a crew cut. It was quite devastating to have a hair cut that I didn’t like after waiting so long for it to come back!! The cut is growing out quickly, though. Given that I’ve moved to a tropical climate, I might consider keeping it short. It hasn’t grown back ‘better’, but I’m still extremely glad to have it back!

    1. Liz, What great stories there are within your comments! You gave me a few good chuckles. I so relate… Actually I used a hair dryer the other day because I was in a hurry to get out the door and that felt so weird. I don’t know why hair is such a big deal. It’s kind of crazy. Thanks for sharing so candidly.

  4. As excited as I was when my hair started to grow back in, I was equally as frustrated with the new texture of it. I didn’t get the curls that many do. Instead, my new hair was much like baby duck fluff. I cut my hair often to trim up the ends and my hair stayed short a few years because of the frequent cuts. The good news is that after a while my hair returned back to close to the way it ways before chemo….. just thinner 🙁

    1. Angela, I understand about that frustration. Mine is growing slowly, seems to be in poorer condition and it’s definitely thinner. I think chemo does a number on a person inside and out and it takes a long time to recover. Maybe some things never fully do. I’m glad your hair is almost back to the way it was. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I lost my hair (well it started to fall out from the chemo and then I just shaved it all off). I had a wig but mostly wore scarves or a great straw hat that I just plunked on top of my bald head – I live in Florida, it was summer, and just too hot. When my hair started to grow back, it came in very curly – all over. I went to my hairdresser, had it trimmed – and yes it was short – and then i used a gel to accentuate the curls. I was so tired of wearing scarves and a hat..I had been very open about my cancer/chemo/hair loss so it wasn’t a surprise to people to see me with very short hair. It’s been almost five years now and my hair has grown out – I’ve had it several different lenghts, but right now it is past my shoulders. It was always thin, but I had a lot of hair and it seems to be about where it was pre chemo.

    1. Valerie, I found wigs to be too hot, too, most of the time and I live in WI. Can’t imagine wearing one in FL. It’s good to hear you’re satisfied with your hair now. That gives me hope. Thanks for sharing.

  6. My hair grew back a little thicker and a little grayer (I’ve remedied that). I’ve always had pretty curly hair and wasnt’ disappointed. I also seldom cut my hair, because no one knows how to cut curly hair, so my hair was pretty damaged when I lost it, so it’s healthier, but otherwise, pretty much the same.

    I mentioned yesterday that maybe I should get a trim, my husband got this horribly shocked look on his face, and said “It’s growing out so even and nice, I think you should wait” Maybe my baldness bothered him more than he let on – he was so supportive through it all.

    Oh and as an aside – I’m no longer scared to let anyone cut my hair, found I could pull off about any length now. 🙂

    1. Linda, So yours came back thicker, that’s nice. Mine came back grayer as well, but that’s an easy fix. Well sort of. I’ve had trouble finding a color too… I didn’t know curly hair is harder to cut, guess that makes sense though. You make an interesting comment about your husband. I think it is hard on them when we lose our hair because there’s truly nothing they can do to help. I will never forget the look on my hubby’s face when I told him mine had started falling out. I felt really badly for him too. Thanks for the comments.

  7. My hair never completely fell out, instead it got incredibly thin, like the see through all the way to the scalp thin. I never shaved it but I did sport a wig a lot. When it started growing back again the texture was strange, kind of poofy and unruly. It is getting a bit better now and I have had several haircuts since. I wear my hair shorter anyway, but I am growing it right now, just because I can 🙂
    Congrats on milestone!!!

    1. Laura, Mine did not completely fall out either. I kept some sparse fringe at the nape of my neck…which worked out nicely under a cap. Shaved it all off after chemo ended. Have fun growing yours out. Thanks for the congrats. Hope things are going well for you now.

    1. Marie, Ha ha. Your comment is so funny. I don’t know why so many men seem to like long flowing hair… Such a thing will have to be a fantasy for both hubby and me now I guess! It’s funny, I always wanted curly hair, so I think you’re lucky. Mine was sooo straight. As for that picture…hmmm, probably slim chance. Maybe some time…maybe! Thanks for commenting.

  8. Stylists pull all sorts of confessions from their clients. I’m not surprised you shared – who couldn’t? It was a milestone to be shared.

    My stylist was there before I chopped it off, and there when I buzzed the fuzzies to an even length. Somehow I think they are far more important than we realize. A good hairdresser doesn’t just cut your hair, she helps you feel like yourself.

    Congratulations on your hair milestone!

    1. Catherine, I bet stylists do hear an earful. There’s nothing much more personal than our hair after all. A good hairdresser is a gem for sure if you’re lucky enough to have one you keep going back to, which I do not… Thanks for the congrats and for commenting!

  9. My hair was sheep’s butt hair (wooly and unmaneageable) for probably 8 or 9 months, and then it began to smooth out. It was dull for quite some time. It was just within the last few months that I noticed that my hair was shiny again.

    1. Debby, Ha! That’s quite the description there! Mine is more dull that’s for sure. It’s wonderful to hear yours is shiny again. I guess these things take time don’t they? Thank you for sharing your experience, Debby.

  10. Hello Nancy. Congratulations on your haircut and the ‘good’ conversation where cancer was only part of it.

    I still look bald (more scalp than hair) except above my ears – 2 months since my last chemo. I’ve no idea if it’s going to be different yet, as it’s only just emerging. From your story and the comments here, I’m preparing myself for a long period of ‘strange hair’. It’s good to know it’s “usual”. Right now though, I’m more pleased my eyebrows seem to have sprouted with a vengeance having almost completely disappeared and teeny-tiny eyelashes (which did disappear completely) are just detectable if I look really hard. Their reappearance seems to make such a big difference to my face.. and to my morale.

    I’m pleased your conversation ‘felt nice’ – may you have many more.

    1. Lynne, Yes, it might be a while before the “strangeness” is over. It’s all a bit of a mystery isn’t it? I’m glad to hear your eyebrows are returning – mine didn’t disappear during chemo. Go figure. I certainly missed my eyelashes a lot. They have not returned to normal, not even close. I know what you mean about the return of these things making a big difference. I’m pleased for you! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Oh, Nancy, I’m so glad you reached that milestone, a happy one! I did indeed experience post-chemo hair loss. My hair did not come in curly as I thought it would, and it definitely was thinner. Six years of Arimidex made it thinner still. Like you, I saved my caps. At least the cute ones. I still have a scarf with Velcro bangs attached that I wear in my convertible. Before chemo, my hair was long, but now I keep it short. It looks fuller that way. It’s neat that your hubby told you it was time to cut it. I love that particular detail. xx

    1. Jan, It’s funny you mention the scarf with the velcro bangs. I purchased some of those bangs as well, and never once actually wore them. They didn’t work for me, but then I don’t have a convertible! ha. I think I’ll be keeping my hair shorter too from now on. Thanks for commenting.

  12. My hair was very long to the center of my back when it began to fall out. After the Benjamin Buttonlook off it went. My hair has grown back, instead of blonde reddish blonde. Oh and thin. that seems to be the common thread with us of course with the exception of the lady’s hair who grew in thicker..Can I say ENVY!! haha I brush my hair but never paid that much attention. My hair is past my shoulders.I’m not sure what to do with it. I was thinking that it needs some styling.During the summer of 09 i liked being bald.. I just wish now it was a little thicker….

    Alli XX

    1. Alli, Yes, it seems most people are experiencing the “thinness.” This is one instance where “being thin” is not all that great! It was nice to read Linda’s comment and realize some people do actually regrow hair that is thicker, envy for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Alli.

  13. Interesting post and comments. I’m so glad you all have hair again. It puts some distance between you and cancer treatments.

  14. 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.

  15. 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,


    1. 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.

  16. 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? 🙂

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

    1. 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!

  18. 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.

    1. 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.

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