My friend Naomi is having a rough time. She was diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer a week after I received my own diagnosis. She has also been on chemotherapy but today she found that her liver alien has stopped playing ball and is no longer responding. She is going to start on a new batch of chemo drugs tomorrow and has been told she will lose her hair. This post is dedicated to her.
The things I did, and felt and noticed:
- When I was told that my barnet would bite the dust, I had it cut shorter than I normally do.
- My hair loss began about a week after my first round of EC chemotherapy.
- My scalp became itchy. A friend, who is an old hand at this chemo lark, likened it to the sensation when you've been wearing a tight ponytail for too long and your head needs a good massage.
- When it does begin to fall out, no matter how prepared you think you are, it is flipping weird.
- I tried not to touch my hair for the next week. Four days later I went for a spin on my bike and sweated and felt that I had to wash it So much hair fell out that I was left with a bald patch at the back of my head.
- Seeing your hair in vast quantities in the plughole is unnerving.
- I took matters into my own hands and shaved it off. Like GI Jane.
- You will want to cover your head.
- My mum (also battling the alien) has a wig. She gets compliments.
- Some ladies choose to wear a cold cap while they are having chemotherapy. This is supposed to help prevent hair loss. It doesn't always work and seems to give one a nasty headache.
- I felt that I needed to see my hair falling out. For me, it is part of the fight. I choose to wear cycling caps, headscarves and when it is cold, beanies.
- Wearing headscarves in public gets you stared at. People can't help it.
- Being stared at will give you a new understanding of vulnerability. You won't stare at other humans ever again.
- People staring at you only says something about them. It says nothing about you.
The most important thing I have learnt:
More than one lady has said to me that they have been terrified about losing their hair. They feel that their hair is their best asset and they won't be beautiful and feminine without it. My own darling mother held this same fear.
Here's the news, ladies:
You are not your hair. You only have hair. It is not your best asset. Your best asset is inside and not even chemotherapy can burn it out of you.