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Chemotherapy & Hair Loss – It is a Big Deal!

When chemotherapy means hair loss, it IS a big deal!

As I’ve shared before, I chose not to shave my head during chemo, even after it started falling out. I waited until chemo was over. I wanted to see how much hair would or would not fall out. I was a bit of a rebel. Doing things that way made me feel more in control for whatever reason.

I’m pretty sure most people choose to shave their hair off early on, which of course, is fine too. There is no right way to do cancer, so there is no right way to do this hair loss thing either.

I will never forget that November day when Dear Hubby and I finally decided to get out the dog trimmer (yes, I said the dog trimmer) and tackle shaving my head.

Even though I didn’t have much hair left, shaving off the remaining strands was still traumatic. I’m sure it was quite traumatic for Dear Hubby as well, though he didn’t let on. What hair I still had was mine and I hated parting with it, but I did. I wanted to start over from scratch.

Being bald was hard for me, especially in the beginning. Even now, when I see photos of my bald self, it’s still quite startling for me to look at them. I still cringe.

Hair loss is a huge deal for most women and men as well, whether it’s a result of chemo, other cancer treatment, hereditary hair loss, alopecia or whatever reason.

I continue to get emails about hair loss fairly often and also continue to get comments on my posts about shaving the head or not.

Some women even admit that losing their hair is harder than losing a breast.

This says an awful lot doesn’t it?

Efrat Roman, a fellow blogger, wrote the following about chemotherapy and hair loss:

“At first, ALL I could think about, were THE CHILDREN
then,
The thought of DEATH went through my head
But, from the moment it reached there, whenever I thought of myself,
It was ALL
about my
HAIR.”

Pretty powerful, right?

I always begin my responses to emails or comments about hair loss by saying yes, losing your hair is a big deal. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t.

Losing your hair is a loss.

If you feel traumatized by this loss, you are not vain; you are normal.

When people say things like, it’s only hair or it will grow back, it’s really not very helpful as it diminishes this loss. Hearing that sort of thing makes me wanna scream.

You are entitled to grieve for things you lose to cancer, including your breasts and hair. This doesn’t mean dwell on these things, but as always, you are entitled to feel and acknowledge your true feelings, including those about hair loss.

Having said that, if you are about to begin chemo, or if you are losing your hair for whatever reason, I’d also like you to know that it probably won’t be as bad as you imagine it will be.

And others, especially loved ones, definitely won’t care about it as much as you do.

I’m not saying it won’t be difficult. But sometimes we imagine the worst, especially when our body image comes into play, and our hair is very often a huge component in determining how we see or do not see ourselves.

“A bad hair day,” need I say more?

My advice for helping a loved one who is, or will be losing her/his hair is pretty simple.

Instead of saying, it’s only hair, think about saying something like, I’m really sorry you are (or will be) losing your hair. That must be hard. Add in a hug and I promise that will be enough.

For whatever reason, I’m finally feeling ready to share a few photos of myself when I was bald. Sharing these photos is emotionally difficult for me even now. I’m not entirely sure why.

My intention has always been to use this blog to share candidly about my experiences with all, or almost all, aspects of the maze that is cancer. Seeing my photos might help someone else. Or perhaps sharing them is part of my own healing. I don’t know.

I do know this:

Hair or no hair, you are still you.

It isn’t just hair, but then again it is.

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Note:  If you are facing chemotherapy and/or potential hair loss, check out my book called, Getting Past the Fear:  A guide to help you mentally prepare for chemotherapy. In my book, I address this fear of hair loss and offer practical advice on how to deal with it.

Getting Past the Fear #chemo #cancer #breastcancer #books

 

Have you ever lost your hair for any reason and if so, how did that make you feel?

Has anyone every said to you, it’s only hair, and if so, did you find those words to be helpful?

Do you have tips for dealing with hair loss?

#Chemotherayp and hair loss, it is a big deal! #breastcancer #cancer

Hair loss as it was happening

#Chemotherayp & hair loss, it is a big deal! #breastcancer #hairloss #cancersucks #cancer

After the shave-off was complete

#chemotherapy & #hairloss, it is a big deal! #breastcancer #chemo #cancer

Finished with chemo, finished with hair…

#chemotherapy & #hairloss, it is a big deal #cancer

Hair again…

To get more articles like this one delivered weekly to your inbox, Click Here! #KeepingItReal #SupportYouCanUse

Linda

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

HUGE deal. I'm in my third round of going bald, this time slowly. It sucks.

Nancy

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Linda, Agree. HUGE deal. Oh, and my hair did not come back as before either. Nor did my brows and lashes. Yes, it sucks.

Darcie

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Generally, you should try to avoid hair treatments and products that include chemicals such as parabens, DEA and sulfates.

Maria Vincent

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Hello Nancy, Thanks for being brave and share your experience with us. Though it seems all it's all women talks and shares own experiences here. But I have seen the suffering of lung cancer patients. My dad has died of cancer and when we able to find out the reasons for his illness it was too late. He reached stage three and doc give him 6 months. Back then I was a young teen I don't clearly understand what happens to my dad. I was surprised when I saw my dad in bald had after a few month chemos started. He could not survive the last cycle of chemo and my mom has broken already. I could not able to describe the situation but I have gone through all this.

Darlene

Tuesday 10th of July 2018

Hi Nancy,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I remember my mom's chemotherapy process but I was just a kid back then and wasn't fully able to grasp the situation. Thanks again for being an inspiration!

Graham

Thursday 14th of December 2017

Nancy,

The very fact that this post got it first comment in 2012 and its latest one in 2017 just proves how much you inspired people!

A lot of our customers have been through similar ordeals to yourself and we often hear how being able to regrow their hair quickly gives them such a confidence boost.

One of our recent emails said "I felt like I was drowing and getting through Chemo pulled me out of the water, as happy and relieved as I was my confidence due to my hair loss was on the floor, I felt like my legs were still in the water but being able to regrow my hair quicker than I expected thanks to Minoxidil was like being pulled to the shore."

I'll admit I've not read your book (yet - but I aim to) but by reading posts like this help me to understand what hair loss can do to people and how it can make them feel is one of the reasons we started out in the first place. I'm going to check your book now :)

All the best, Graham

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