Should a Chemo Patient Shave the Hair Off and If So, When?

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I hope the photo of me and my disappearing hair doesn’t scare anyone away. It was actually taken a few weeks ago when I had MORE hair.

Recently, I completed round 7 of chemo. It’s hard to believe I have made it this far. When I started chemo back in July, October seemed sooo far away and now here it is. Fall has always been my favorite season and this year I am loving it even more because it’s when chemo ends!

Before beginning chemo, Dear Hubby and I signed up for a required chemo class at the hospital where I would be receiving it. We already knew quite a bit about chemo since my mother had it a couple of years ago, but when you are going to be having it yourself, suddenly you can never know too much about it.

At the class, we received a packet full of information, watched a video and listened to a chemo nurse talk a bit about what to expect.

Surprisingly, to me at least, during class that chemo nurse looked at me and said, “Nancy with the drugs you will be receiving you will definitely be losing your hair.”

Should you shave your hair off and if so, when?

I know she meant well and was only trying to prepare me, but that comment made in front of the entire group was unexpected and I felt unnecessary. I mean, is there really anyone on the planet who doesn’t understand that chemo usually (though not always, so don’t assume) equals hair loss?

“Yes, I am totally aware of that,” I managed to answer as if it would be no big deal to lose my hair. But, I kinda wanted to slap her. 

That wouldn’t have been very smart though as I knew she might very well soon be MY chemo nurse.

Anyway, here I am post chemo session 7, and I still have some hair on my head. Granted, it’s not much, but there’s still some there.

If  you saw the Leonardo D’Caprio movie Shutter Island, I look like the creepy crazy woman with thin hair standing in the flower garden at the beginning of the movie when he arrives on the island. If you saw the movie and have had chemo, you know exactly who I’m talking about.

I think there’s a message in there somewhere that if you have thin hair you are scary looking, and I don’t think I like that message very much, but that’s a topic for another time.

It seems most chemo patients shave their heads as soon as hair loss begins or even before. It makes them feel more in control they say. Not me.

I’ve hung onto my hair as long as possible. I lamented when it began to fall out in clumps, and I still carefully pluck strands from the back of my clothes as if saying goodbye to old friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I have adjusted to having almost no hair surprisingly well. (Not like I had choice though). I even walk around the house without wearing anything on my head.

Dear Hubby just sorta laughs and says, “Oh, I got used to that a long time ago.” (Even though we both know fully well it’s no laughing matter and neither of us has really gotten used to it.)

And my kids don’t care. Neither do the dogs. In fact, the dogs get more nervous, eyeing me suspiciously for a few moments, whenever I put a wig on. They truly don’t miss a thing; they totally know it’s fake hair and that I look slightly different. They prefer my “natural” look.

Does not shaving my hair off like most chemo patients do make me weak, vain or just plain weird?

Am I unable to face reality?

Or did my defiant rebellious side kick in that day at chemo class?

I don’t know or care.

I do know when I’m finished with chemo, (and I fully realize unlike me, those with mbc will never be finished) I will shave off any remaining hair on my head so I can start over from scratch. Otherwise, I’ll end up with some freakish mish-mash of length, color and texture even I am not willing to deal with.

I guess the point of all this rambling, is that you can and should do what you want about shaving your head. Shave it all off early or let it fall out slowly.

You decide. It’s your hair, it’s your cancer and it’s your decision.

Update:  Other posts about chemo you might want to read:

When Chemo Day Arrives

What Should You Take to Chemo?

What Is Chemo-Induced Flushing?

How to Shop for a Wig

If you have had chemo, did you shave your head as soon as hair loss began? (or if you know someone who has had chemo, what did they do?)

Note: More information about chemotherapy is available in my book, Getting past the fear: A guide to help you mentally prepare for chemotherapy. For all your purchasing options, click on the book image below.


getting past the fear
Click on image for buying options

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Should a Chemo Patient Shave the Hair Off & If So, When? #cancer #chemo #chemotherapy #hairloss

186 thoughts to “Should a Chemo Patient Shave the Hair Off and If So, When?”

  1. Hello Nancy, I have lymphoma and started losing my hair drastically after starting chemo. I found your blog looking for answers for “should I shave my head”. After reading I realised that it’s OUR cancer and OUR hair… Shave it if you want or leave it as is. I feel like I’m doing more to make people comfortable around me then for myself. Please do what you prefer

    1. Danny, You should absolutely do what you prefer! We all should. Sometimes I think there is pressure put on women to shave their hair off early on. If that’s what you want to do, fine. But like you said, it’s our cancer and our hair. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

      1. This question have start to bother me ever since I’ve started my treatment. I’m 25 and losing hair bothers me a lot. I was (for days) on the question ‘should I shave my head now? I’m still not losing hair, why should I do it now? Can I wait for my hair to be thinner and then shave it?’ I have a lot of hair, tbh. This helped me make my mind. Thank you!

        1. Barbara, Only you can decide what feels best to do here. I waited until chemo was over before I shaved mine off. I stubbornly held out. And of course, losing your hair bothers you. Never feel badly about that. It’s not just hair. Thank you for sharing and good luck with treatment and beyond.

        2. I, thankfully , did not have to go through chemo ( it seems dumb to say “just radiation”), but I have a new friend who will be going , having been recently diagnosed. I don’t know much about how it will be for her, but I really want to help. Any suggestions? I bought Nancy’s book on chemo to give her when the time comes, but is there anything you all experienced that might help her/us get through this? Thanks.

    2. You said that you feel like you’re doing more to make people comfortable than you’re doing for yourself. Living with cancer can be a balancing act. You really want to put yourself first, completely and totally. I sure did. But that makes it easy to push others away when you need them most. For that reason I went through my cancer experience alone. So I think it’s worth keeping in mind how much to put yourself first and how much to consider others.

      1. Andulamb, You are so right about putting yourself first. But still, we can’t completely push away (or annoy) our loved ones either, so each person must figure out that balance. Thank you for sharing.

      2. I’m alone also. Got any tips on fighting the feeling of hopelessness due to finances? I may loose my house because my savings are gone. I feel frozen.

      3. How about getting pushed away just as you are finishing your fight? Your kids just not wanting to support you anymore? I know I was not that bad when they were taking care of me to get that kind of treatment from them.

    3. Hello my name is Katarzyna and I belive it’s not easy to loose hair, and go like nothing happen, try to shave, and then start using good Natural products, without chemical, and hormones. If You interested this product help me a lot , so I’m sharing this with people in need. Check this website . Be strong and look forward to seeing new, better hair soon. God bless You

  2. I had cancer in 1988 when I was in college. I distanced myself from my treatment as much as possible, had no connections with the cancer community, and therefore had no idea what was typical. So it never even occurred to me to shave my head. My hair started falling out and I just let the chemo take its course. My mom asked me if I wanted a hat, which for some reason irritated and offended me. But then she bought me one anyway and by that time I was happy to have it. Moms know best.

    I just looked at another web site that recommends that one should “take charge” and shave your head immediately. I say to do whatever you want to do. Shave or don’t shave. Wear a hat, a wig, or a scarf, or draw pictures on your bald head with a Magic Marker, or tie a pretty bow around your last few sad strands of hair, or just be proud of your scalp. This more than any other is your time, so do what you want.

    I don’t think shaving your head or not shaving your head says anything about you. I would hope those with cancer aren’t judging each other over such superficial things.

    1. Andulamb, I completely agree. I still get annoyed whenever I read that shaving one’s hair off early on is the best way to go. No, the best way to deal with chemo-induced hair loss, is to do whatever you darn please. Thank you for chiming in on this.

      1. Thank you Nancy! I am getting really irritated by women (with a full head of hair who have not suffered through chemo) who “explain” to me that I should shave my head to give me more control. For me, control is not shaving my head. Control is having the choice whether to shave it or let it fall out naturally. I feel I’m on the verge of yelling at the next one who tells me that my hair “doesn’t define me” or that “there’s more to me than my hair”. Interestingly, they have a full head of hair and haven’t shaved their heads. Keeping in mind, I never asked for their opinion. Sorry to rant. Having a bad day.

      2. I have ovarian cancer. I’m also on a weekly chemo course. My hair started falling out after the second week of treatment. One evening nearly all of my hair fell out. I asked my husband to take me wig shopping. Bought a wig I didn’t really like, however it was the only thing that fit.
        When we got home he lovingly shaved my head. I looked like Gullum from the Hobbit!!!. My 3 year old granddaughter hated the wig but loved my head.
        God bless my family and God bless my medical team. I honestly don’t care what I look like. I just want to survive.

  3. Thank you for your blog and all the helpful comments. Getting my first chemo treatment in three days. Haven been contemplating/stressing over the hairloss/shave-your-head/wig conundrums. The clearest advice I got was from a friend who said “You get to do whatever the @#$%^T you want.” (Actual adult language omitted out of respect for readers–but I’m sure you can figure it out.) Still working to balance the grief and denial and hopefulness. And still trying to sort out what I think I want. Glad to have some additional perspective; I’m sure it will help guide me as I’m forced to finally face each decision. Thank you, again.

    1. Julie, You are dealing with a lot right now. I like your friend’s advice very much. You might wish to read my book as you begin chemo. It might help. I wish you all the best as your move forward with your treatment. There is a lot of processing and balancing to do. Luckily there is a lot of support from others who’ve been there. Thank you for reading and sharing. Good luck with chemo and everything else too.

      1. The same friend advised me after surgery to be sure not to do any vacuuming for at least five years. 😉 I’ll look into your book. Thanks again.

      2. Hey I’m In my Early 40’s I have to see A Nurse,Chemo and Radiation and I’m so scared they found 2 spots and I have a Myxoma in my right side rib cage..I’m so scared can u please give some advices on this cause I gotta have surgery….

        1. Tricia, Being scared is normal. Try to focus on taking things one thing at a time. One day at a time. Start a journal. Letting your thoughts and fears loose on the page can work wonders. Remember, you can do what you need to do, and you’re not alone. Thank you for sharing. Good luck with everything.

  4. I’m in that awkward mish mash of different lengths and textures stage. It made me giggle when I read that part! I chose to just leave my hair and now I have dry, longer hair mixed with soft, shorter hair growing out. My ends are so thin and the top of my head is getting thick again. I use extensions to fill out the bottom half. I keep wondering if my old dry hair (the leftovers that I didn’t shave off) is growing out or not…it’s so hard to tell! I hope so! Loved reading this! 🙂

      1. I am going to let my hair do what is natural. I started chemo yesterday for breast cancer. Triple Negative stage 3. Yay my CT Scan came back clean. The cancer did not move to other parts of my body. I am going to receive 8 sessions over the next 16 weeks. So far so good. Thank you for posting your progress.

        1. How do you feel Michelle,it looks we have got the same type of cancer at almost the same time.I am going to get my 5 th chemo on following Tuesday.This time it will be Taxol.My doctor feels it is much better than the ” red devil”I had before.
          I feel mostly 80 % ok,sometimes less than that:)
          I have to take neuprodgen shots 8 times every session.
          I am fighting with mouth sours but still kicking:)
          You can write to me if you want to talk about anything but cancer:)

    1. Please tell me the rest of your story. I cut my hair short and did not shave my hair for chemo. I am finished chemo treatment and I am wondering if I should shave my head now or just let my hair grow and fill in on it’s own? I was afraid I would have short and long hair mixed as you explained with dry ends on the old hair and soft new growth, etc. as you explained. Please give me an update!

  5. Nancy, thanks for your perspective. I am half way through my chemo and have not shaved my head. It’s pretty scraggly for sure, but I have the cutest little pony tail you’ve ever seen! I just didn’t agree with the idea that you’d have more “control” over the situation if you shaved. To me, it felt more like I was giving in. Any my sister said “You get to pick!” Love her to pieces!

    1. Kathy, I loved reading your comment! I felt the same way you do and sometimes because of this I also felt like I was doing the hair loss thing all wrong. Now I know better. You must be way smarter than me! Kudos to you for doing things your way. And kudos to your sister too. Love what she said to you. Just love it. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      1. I am so happy to have found this site. I thought I was stupid not shaving the few hairs I have left. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it . I had my last chemo 2 weeks ago (don’t know yet if going to have to do another round) and I didn’t know if I should have shaved the old hair in order for the new to grow in . I can feel a little stubble and it is white !!! I guess I’ll just cut the straggly stuff off and see what grows in. It is so nice to hear what others are feeling and doing….. Now I don’t feel so silly not wanting to shave my head .. I’m not alone ,I had not reached put before this . Thank You all for sharing ..

        1. Gail, You are not stupid at all. You are doing the hair loss thing your way. I did not shave my hair off until chemo was over for various reasons. I did sometimes feel I was doing it all wrong because as you know, your way and my way seems to not be the most common way this is handled. So be it I say. I did shave mine all off at the end of chemo because I wanted to start over from scratch. But there’s no rule that says you have to do it all. I’m glad you found my site too. It’s always nice to know we aren’t alone. Good luck to you with everything and thank you for sharing.

      2. Nancy, thank you for your site. Don’t usually share. Guess i’m a loner with Stage 4. In my 5th year of chemo. Shaved or buzzed cut my hair today. 2nd time I’ve lost my hair. It was just growing , curly and kind of cute, died it platinum. Started falling out rapidly so now I’ve got to get used to baldness for a while.
        It can be done. Living is worth it.

        1. Janis, You might be a loner, but you aren’t alone. Thank you for sharing about your hair loss experiences. Living is definitely worth it. I wish you all the best.

  6. Nancy, I did six rounds of TC chemo for breast cancer two years ago. I already had male pattern baldness so giving myself a buzz cut was not too much of a major change. I was starting to notice hair loss in the shower and that was when I decided to make the move. Seems like that was about three weeks after the first round.

    I first cut it so that it was a bit fuzzy and surprisingly that hung in their for a goodly amount of time. My guess is that there was little chance of tugging on it to pull the hair out at that point. So they stuck around for a bit.

    I’m 100% with the “do what ever you want” on this front. Everyone is different and they need to sort out what feels best for their own needs. Good thoughts to all.

    1. Dennis, There really is no other way to do this stuff other than your own way. You are so right about that. Thank you for sharing. Hope you’re doing alright these days.

  7. During the consultation my doctor told me that the chemo chemical cocktail I was going on would have hair loss. So I waited until just before and shaved my head with the help of my brother. I have always kept my hair short soot wasn’t such a big step but then despite the treatments so of it started growing back. It looked like baby peach fuzz and at first it didn’t bother me but it got to be three or four inches in some places and a quarter inch in others so I shaved again. When I told a nurse over the phone what I had done she told me if I kept doing that someof my hair might not grow back at all later. Is that true or was she pulling my leg?

  8. I lost 80 percent of my hair by second chemo. I just completed the fourth with two more to go. I am mainly grey and coloured my hair before. I noticed that the Grey hairs fell off first and the black hairs lingered but fell off very slowly. All my hair did not fall and was wondering why as I was told that all would. I trimmed my hair short two weeks after the first chemo. I notice that my hair is growing back mainly the greys with a thinner and wavier texture. So I am being told to buzz off all to encourage healthier regrowth. Is this necessary. I am kind of happy to see the hair on my head.

    1. Nisa, You should do whatever you want. I shaved all mine off when I finished chemo. I did not choose to shave it off earlier because I kinda liked seeing that little bit of hair that hung around too. I was told all of mine would fall out too, and it didn’t. Most yes, but not all. I felt a bit rebellious I guess. Do what feels right. There is no right way here. Good luck with everything and thank you for sharing.

  9. Thank you for this article. I am on my second cycle of chemo and my hair has thinned some. It is really hurting and itching and has been for 2 days. I’m wondering if shaving it will help with the discomfort?

  10. Most of what I am reading is people on chemo cocktails. I was put on Tarceva. This is a chemo pill. Only had one chemo treatment then the pill. However, I will be on this medication until my cancer no longer reacts and I move on to the next option….or, I will be on this a long time.
    In my case, my hair is just above shoulder length and is fairly aggressive with fall out. I am struggling with what to do. Finding hair all around the house is driving me nuts. Not sure if I should start with a shave or hang in there. I have resorted to a 2 inch pony at the base of skull, clips to hold the sides and front back, and a hat. At least I know if I go wig, it will be close to my own color and made to fit my head…and the shine toned down to look more natural. I am hanging in there as long as I can. My visit to a hair loss beautician was helpful with selecting a proper style and color for me.
    The big difference with what I am reading and my own treatment is that I will be on chemo for a long time so hairless is probably inevitable.

    1. Karen, You’re right about most of that info out there. Things are entirely different when a person such as yourself will be on chemo for the long haul. As far as what to do about your hair falling out, well, only you can decide about that. How wonderful that you were able to consult with a hair loss beautician. I still have hair-thinning issues since chemo and now on an AI and would love to see a specialist. I wish you all the best. Thank you for sharing.

  11. I elected to shave my head when it started falling out in clumps. I had nice long blonde wavy hair. Gee I wish I hadn’t. Not for the look of it, but because it was extremely uncomfortable. I had the shortest buzz cut you could do and the stubble was awful. Laying down the stubble caught in my pillow and woke me every time I moved. The stubble stuck in my scarves and head covers and as my scalp moved, pushed them off, so nothing stayed on unless you pulled it really tight, and that gave me headaches. I really wish I had just cut it short and left some length that would have laid flat instead. I think the weight of having some hair would have assisted in it falling out quicker as well. The stubble just hangs around, but if you pinch at it falls out freely. It’s now been three weeks since I shaved and I’m still uncomfortable, I sure hope it improves.

    1. Deborah, Sounds very uncomfortable indeed. I’m sorry. I have heard others talk about uncomfortable stubble too. I sure hope things improve for you too. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I was just diagnosed with cervical cancer and will have to go through chemo treatment after surgery. I have said my whole life that chemo was my biggest fear in life and that I would choose no chemo because i could never go through hair loss and survive. I have long thick blond hair and said I would rather die than lose my hair. Wow! How quickly your perspective changes when actually facing it. I’m thrilled to have found your site because everyone has been telling me “it’s only hair” and to just shave it. To take control. Well it’s clear I have no control, it’s going to fall out. But you have just given me permission to hang on as long as I can. Thank you. I needed to have someone tell me it’s ok not to be ok with it. I don’t want to lose it..dont want to shave it and want to be in denial as long as I can. Thank you.

    1. Linda, I am sorry about your recent diagnosis. I completely understand your fears about chemo, hair loss and more. I heard so many times that it was only hair and it’ll grow back. I hated that! And I decided to hang onto my hair as long as I could. I was rebelling. That was how I felt more in control. So yes, hang onto your hair, or cut it off whenever you darn please. I wrote more about hair loss in both my books, btw. Good luck with chemo and all the rest of the fallout too. Wishing you my best.

  13. Hi Nancy,

    I will be through with chemo in one month – and like you, I didn’t shave my hair, partly because of the stubble problem. Which brings me to the question or what you recommend since you’ve been through it, but once my chemo is over, won’t the stubble be just as bothersome then if I were to shave it off at that point? Do you think whatever remaining strands I have should be trimmed to maybe an inch long? I will appreciate any feedback you have to offer!

    1. Donna, I have heard people talk about the stubble issue. I didn’t experience any of that. Maybe this is because I waited to shave my hair off until chemo was over, I don’t know. Hopefully this issue won’t be bothersome for you either. And as for those strands, you should do what feels right for you. Personally, I wanted to start all over, so I shaved it all off. Plus I wanted to avoid that uneven growth look. But I suppose it could be a different sort of layered look, right? Good luck!

    2. Been on chemo beginning my 5th year. Loosing my hair for the 2nd time. It is quite short but I was getting used to the look. Not looking forward to loosing it again. Happy to be alive even if the chemo makes me feel pretty awful most of the time. Being positive and enjoying every moment of life. Have Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer. Hang in there everyone and remember every moment of life is worth a celebration!

  14. I wish people would quit telling women to shave their hair off before chemo starts. Not all chemotherapy causes hair loss.

  15. Your essay on “Chemotherapy and Hair Loss,” truly helped and validated my emotions. The phrase “your hair will grow back,” did not help me at all. After reading your essay, I knew I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t vain for mourning my hair loss. Thank you.

  16. Regarding my personal experience with çhemotherapy and hair loss. When I was told gently by my medical oncologist, that I would lose all of my hair. I thought, it’s Youk life, let’s go for gold! I had no intention of shaving my head. That doesn’t get rid of the Hair follicles , and they still have to fall out. So I became enthusiastic bought a wig, got some scalfs, went on the Internet to see how to tie head scalfs attractively, got a couple of soft cotton pull ons, and crocheted myself cloche style hats with matching flowers over one ear., ( plus many for others.)
    My hair was gone by the second cycle of Cyclophosphmide and Docetaxel. Great clumps in the shower, and my scalp was very tender and sensitive to the cold. I was unable to wear my expensive wig,as my scalp was too tender. Later I was advised to cut a section of nylon stocking off to use as a liner that worked well.
    When my hair grew back , I have grayer hair but beautiful curls. Long may they last.
    If I had chosen to have my head shavedown before my chemotherapy, I think, it would have been an abrupt shock to already highly stressed emotions. Everyone’s journey is different , my age may have had some influence . I’m now 72 ,8 months out of surgery, chemo, and radiotherapy, followed by letrozole.
    I am a retired oncology, palliative care and lymphoedema therapy specialist nurse from New Zealand. Yes even we get caught out. I have lymphoedema in my arm and shoulder.
    I was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic high grade breast cancer. I’ve had to become a strong advocate for myself. I could not tolerate the side effects of letrozole. Quality not quantity is my motto. Thank you Nancy.

  17. I decided I would shave. I had (have, as it has grown back as thick as it was when I was a kid) thick, beautiful hair, and I was worried I would cry (again) every time some more fell out. Also, I am a teacher, and I didn’t want kids pointing it out to me every time I lost a clump of hair, or to look down and realize I had hair stuck all over my clothes. I think it was harder for my kids, particularly my older daughter, than it was for me. I kept telling her I wanted her to shave it closer, and she kept trying not to. Finally my son and I told her pretty bluntly that it would be much worse having short hair and bald spots, and still having to deal with the clumps and the tears, than just to have it all done with on my own terms. I still am happy that I did it, but hope to hell I will never have to make that choice again.

  18. I went through chemo for breast cancer in 2017 and, of course, lost my hair. My hair loss started suddenly 10 days after my first treatment and just before the 2nd treatment. Losing my hair in clumps, seeing it wrapped around my hair brush like fur, made me physically ill (no crying involved). Within 2 days, I had my stylist shave off my hair. I turned into GI Jane! I felt better, more empowered and ready for the battle. Although I wore a wig to work, I generally did not wear it elsewhere. My head was never completely bald; there was always some hair although it was very short.

    1. I had my second chemo treatment yesterday and have one more to go. My hair was coming out by the handful 10 days
      After the first. I got tired of seeing pillow loaded each morning and all over my clothes. Had to wear a turban when going out to eat ( you get the picture). So I had my husband use clippers instead of shaving to start. I was thinking the remaining stubble would fall out but it hasn’t and even seems to be growing a smidge. So do I shave now since it’s so darn prickly and let it all come back in together??

      1. Rita, There are no right answers here. Lots of people would say, yes, shave it all off, but it’s up to you. The stubble does sound annoying. Good luck with things and thank you for sharing.

  19. I finished my 6 Cysplatin Chemo but I was assured that I won’t lose my hair during those sessions.
    But today, I had my 1st Taxo & Carboplastin Chemo, I was told that I will lose my hair after 2-3 weeks. My hair is still long, planning to cut them off tomorrow same as the length of my chosen wig. I told myself that I need to give more time for myself. For so many years, I focused on serving & giving time to other people. I love Service & i call it as my vocation.
    My employer, friends & families support me to decide what I want to look like. They encourage me to use this process as therapeutic as possible. Yes, people who doesn’t know me personally gives a lot of suggestions & comments sometimes it is below the belt. Annoying? Maybe… But I considered that they want the best for me.
    In short, let’s do whatever that will make us happy… just for this stage of our Battle.
    Less Stress More Powers 🙂

  20. Years late on this one, but I’m struggling with this again. The first time through, I did not shave until it was over. Then, as you said, as a fresh start. I kept hanging on so there was only a few wisps hanging out under my hat (I didn’t do wigs either). Well, now I am facing round 2. And my cocktail was *not* supposed to cause alopecia for most people (<10%). Guess who is an outlier?! I'm about to go get it cut because the shedding is really bugging me, but I am holding out hope it won't all come out. If so, I have hats ready.

    1. Ruby, Sorry you are dealing with this again. That really sucks. I hope the new cocktail does its job and doesn’t bring with it too many other nasty side effects. Good luck.

  21. My diagnosis of stage 4 non-small-cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer was my “birthday present” in April of this year when I turned 75. I shaved my hair off when I first started losing hair. I just didn’t want to fool with it falling out and picking up my hair all over the place. I bought a wig and several head coverings. I’ve only worn the wig a couple of times. Now that my hair has grown out about 1/2 inch, I don’t wear a covering a home. I say do what you want. After all it is all about you and what makes you feel good, gives you hope and feels right.

  22. I have found it very hard to deal with my hair loss I feel like I’m not me anymore so vain I know I live in France and the care is exceptional and I now understand why we pay all those taxes, but what I am pleased I did do when I lost a lot of hair 14 days after the first chemo treatment so I went to the hairdresser and had a really short haircut, it looked great and although i only gained two weeks it really helped the transition and I have not shaved my head as I am not good at hats and scarfs so some hair look ok with these.
    Thank you for your post it really help me feel I am doing the right thing

    1. Karen, I’m so glad you found the post helpful. Losing your hair is hard and in no way makes you vain. I always cringed when hearing someone say, it’s only hair. I still hate hearing that. My best to you as you navigate things. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Hi Nancy,
    Wondering about hairgrowth during chemo. When you shaved your hair off, did it grow back during chemo like a sandpaper feel or did chemo stunt growth for a time?

    1. Ann-Margaret, I didn’t shave my hair off until I was finished with chemo, so I can’t answer your question. I did lose most of it, but not all. I don’t think I experienced any hair regrowth during chemo.

  24. Nancy,
    I just stumbled across your blog and I was searching for cancer related effects…I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer in March of 2020, at the age of 42. I have an incredibly loving husband (I call him my BMEM or Best Man Ever Made), 3 beautiful children, and 3 awesome bonus children.
    I, too, had hoped that I could avoid chemo when I was first diagnosed,but I quickly learned that was not possible with the aggressive cancer I have. I’ve also had several days of radiation on my back and my hip.
    I just completed today my third round of chemo and cannot tell you how incredibly thankful I am thank each round so far has met me with minimal side effects – no fatigue (which I have NO time for as a working mother of 6), very minimal nausea (I always take my nausea pills before my treatments), and all around feel pretty good. BUT….the hair loss. It was pretty devastating for me. I felt superficial when worrying about it as bringing it up before it started happening (it start falling out pretty quickly on week 3 after the first treatment). When I had the chemo class, i had to hold back tears when she talked about that. I had long, blonde hair and my husband always complimented it. I thought I was being foolish, and I’m sure my family did too, when I talked about how it truly been the worst part of chemo, so far. I always heard the “but it will grow back” or “it’s only hair”. None of that helped me!
    My biggest concerns were my kids would worry at seeing me change physically, that everyone around me would perceive me as being “sick”, weak, helpless, or gross. I worried my husband would no longer be attracted to me, which ate me up inside. That I would lose my femininity. And this all made me sick to my stomach because I have always had confidence and didn’t really care what people thought.
    Well, surprise, surprise!!! My family loves my bald head. I did by a nice, high quality wig because of the work I do, I wanted it to be as close to my natural hair as possible. My BMEM tells me all the time how sexy he finds me, with or without the wig, but that my shaved head is “hot”. I still am insecure going outside without my wig, but don’t hesitate around the house.
    I also was very hesitant to shave my head when it started falling out. I held on for about another month and half before my husband convinced me to just shave it. I wanted to do it by myself because I was SO embarrassed by the whole thing. He wanted to do it with me. He told me he didn’t want me shutting him out of this and that he loved me always and wanted to experience this with me and that it would bring is closer. So, I thought about it and we did it that night. I cried part of the time, but he helped me shave the back. He kissed my bald head and held me. He was absolutely right. And I felt better and my wig fit better. It was liberating! Since then, and that was about 3 weeks ago, I have shaved it all the way to the scalp. He also have a his head, so he gives me pointers on it. LOL
    My point is…hair is a big deal for a woman. Nancy is right!! Don’t let anyone shame you, one way or another. Do whatever you want. And also, I had to let my wall down and step away from my pride and not shut out my husband. He wanted to be there for me because that’s the only thing he feels like he can do as we’re going through this together.
    Thank you to Nancy, and all who commented. I read through them all and they helped me gain even more perspective.
    May you all continue to fight your battle successfully!.
    Much love. ❤️

    1. Also, excuse any errors…I couldn’t find a way to edit and that is a huge pet peeve of mine! LOL

    2. Jennifer, I am sorry to hear about your stage 4 diagnosis. As for the hair loss, I so agree with you. It is a big deal. Still, we manage to adjust because what choice do we have, right? I’m glad you have such a wonderful, supportive partner and your advice to not shut a partner out is really important. Thank you for sharing about your experience. I’m glad to hear this post and all the comments helped you gain more perspective. Hope you’re doing well. My best to you.

  25. Thank you for your post on shaving your head. You captured the point so well that there’s no right or wrong, strong or weak, way to treat hair loss. I had chemo 17 years ago and again in 2019. The first time I held on to my hair to the bitter end, but the second time I shaved it preemptively. The first decision led to the second, but both were good because they were about controlling a small part of the uncontrollable. If interested in reading a post on the second time please go to: and click “Shave Angel” (Jan. 20, 2020). Thank you for writing.

  26. I am going through chemo right now have only had one treatment out of 6 every 3 weeks. My hair has always been one of my best features. I was fortunate to have thick hair and lots of it with lots of natural volume. At hair salons I am praised and paraded around. I have had long hair since I was 22 ( I am48 now) and i have loved it. Once I learned I would be losing my hair, I wanted to come to terms with it. Friends and family both told me I might not since I had so much and it was so thick. I sensed the prospect of hair loss was more uncomfortable for them than for me. A few days after my chemo treatment a sweet guy friend of mine came over and buzzed my hair off. I still had hair but it was very short. For me the prospect of seeing my beautiful hair come out in clumps was too emotionally distressful. I had two weeks to get used to my short look if you will. Now it is not so much falling out but I can pull it without resistance or effort. My scalp in painful and it itches . tomorrow I will be shaving it off and I feel empowered by it. I like it better than the bald spots on my head I have now. it will also feel better when laying my head on my pillow. I have always said it is just hair and it will grow back… when getting a haircut that I did not love. I keep trying to say that to myself now. I am not happy I had to loose my hair but it is just hair and it will grow back. My desire to live is stronger than my desire to keep my hair. I will try to embrace my bald head as much as I can. It does help that I have a very supportive group of friends and one of them shaved her head in solidarity so I would not go through this alone. I do agree with the original point though we must do what feels right for ourselves without letting others dictate what that should be. I felt pressured from others to keep my hair and see what happens and shaving it felt like more control. it was the right decision for me. For others it may be to wait till they are ready whenever that may be.

    1. Nuria, I’m sorry you are going through hair loss as a direct result of chemo and cancer. It’s hard. I’m glad you’ve decided to do what feels right for you regarding shaving it off. I hope that went okay and wasn’t too traumatic. Hoping your treatment goes as smoothly as possible. Thank you for sharing about your experience. It’ll be helpful for others to read your words.

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