Losing your hair is not something most young women think about. When I was diagnosed, I shaved my head the night before I started chemo. I used it as an excuse: I needed to be in control of something and that seemed the only thing I could do.
I don’t regret it, although I did shave it the same summer that GI Jane came out (with Demi Moore) so I did get quiet a few nicknames that summer (so instead of taking it to heart, I bought myself a tight army dress!)
I had fuzzy bald patches on my head after getting chemo, so I would shave it (crew cut with clippers) every two weeks or so (thanks to my male friends with the clippers!). I did get a wig (which I used to take off and put back on in public to shock people–my way of dealing: not to be done around people with weak hearts!).
I then stopped shaving it when my chemo stopped (six months later) and my hair started to grow back curly and very soft. I loved having that “wet hair feeling” which was something I never thought about until it was gone.
Another eight months went by and I had hair! Well short, soft, and curly hair. I was then diagnosed a second time. I really didn’t want to shave my head again, and the biggest reason was that my best friend was getting married and I was her bridesmaid. I had vowed to have hair for this wedding!
After one week of intense chemo every 12 hours, my hair really started to fall out. It hurt so much. The only feeling I can describe to you is when your hair is in a pony tail and when you take it out after a really long time, times that by a hundred.
I did get a couple hours leave from the hospital to attend the wedding, which was lovely. I got ready in the hospital bathroom with my purple dress and my silver shoes and felt like a captured princess leaving the hospital waving “goodbye-see-you-in-three-hours” to the nurses!
My hair was falling out in lumps in the shower and there was hair all over my pillow when I would get up. It was a terrible feeling. After the wedding I asked my dad to take me to a hairdresser to borrow the clippers and got rid of all that thin hair. I felt liberated afterwards, and it is funny how the pain disappears!
Since I had never really had such a smooth head (as the year before I had a mini crew cut (picture stubble on your head!), I decided to take advantage.
Ok so the hair doesn’t just disappear on your head, at least I didn’t have to shave my legs or pluck my eyebrows for a while!
To take advantage, I had transfer tattoos of flowers around my ears, and just before my transplant I paid a guy in Halifax to paint a huge henna tattoo of a sun on the crown of my head. It was a bit of a joke, but it was very cool (so I thought!).
I guess my point to this story is that it is really hard to lose your hair, especially for us young women, but with every case, we must take advantage of the situation. I am conveying this story as I know someone out there is pissed off about having to lose their hair (take my friend Elaine who had lovely long, thick blond hair. It isn’t easy at all). Have a head shaving party and get your friends to shave their heads too. My good friend had very long hair, and she shaved it with me.
The more you smile about it, the more others will smile with you. I had a high school friend that worked as a nurse at the IWK in Halifax, and she told me a story about a young 15-year-old with cancer who was depressed about having to lose her hair. My friend told her about the fun I had with transfer tattoos and how I used my baldness into something fun. This young girl actually smiled and thought it was cool to do that. That is what makes me smile: I made someone I didn’t even know smile.