When I was diagnosed with cancer in January I had blonde hair that, up until then I’d always kept long. I was one of those people who gets terrified when their hairdresser says they need to cut an inch off…so the prospect of chemo taking my hair was a bit of a shock…
However I decided to embrace it wholeheartedly and, in my usual ‘when life gives you lemons…’ approach, decided very quickly that I was going to donate my hair to the little princesses trust so that children with cancer could benefit from it. I then, with some ‘gentle persuasion’ from a friendly local hairdresser dyed it hot pink and purple in a bid to raise money for Macmillan nurses…(the gentle persuasion was over the colour choice not the charity!)
And you know what?!…I loved my hair short and brightly coloured! Like seriously LOVED it more than I ever did my long blonde hair!…
But that was all before I started my chemo treatment. After my first dose my hair was still in tact!…hurray!…however after my second dose it started to fall out in clumps! Especially when I was in the shower or bath!
I thought that I would find this much more destressing than I actually did. Honestly though it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be! It may be that by the time your hair starts falling out you have dealt with so much that it pales in comparison but it didn’t really bother me at all. This was surprising…I’d always considered myself to be very vain! It’s actually quite fascinating pulling your own hair out in clumps…
After a couple of weeks it quickly got to the stage that there was no denying that my hair was not going to stop falling out and so I took the plunge and asked my husband to give me a buzz cut. Watching my hair fall to the ground in clumps all around me felt so liberating. I was taking back control! I was making the decision to lose my hair…not cancer or chemo!
When I finally looked in the mirror I felt like a warrior. Who was this strong woman looking back at me?! It was so empowering. I think that day I felt the strongest I’ve ever felt – like I could do anything. Like even cancer didn’t stand a chance.
I didn’t ever leave the house with my buzz cut on show though – something I regret now looking back. Instead I tried a wig for one day. I hated it! It wasn’t just that it didn’t suit me (which it really didn’t!) but more that I felt I was trying to hide the fact that I had cancer, like it was something to be ashamed of. I hated the way that thought made me feel.
So instead I started to play around with head scarfs and head bands. I spent an absolute fortune trying different conbinations! I now know that I favour wearing a cheap, plain cotton neck scarf to cover my head and then a patterned sea salt handyband over the top to give some bulk and interest. These are the best because they stay in place but are loose enough to not cause headaches – which many other kinds did because they were too tight.
The best part about wearing headscarfs is you have a whole new accessory to coordinate with your outfits! I love when outfits are based around a colour and so I actually find this a fun process of getting ready in the morning. Having hair is so boring by comparison!
Following my fourth dose of chemo, however, my hair has started to fall out much more drastically. Overnight I felt like I’d gone from a warrior to gollum! Not so liberating when you have to greet that look in the mirror in the morning!
So today I once again embraced a new hairdo and clean shaved my head! I then took it one step further and, having regretted not going out with my buzz cut, went out with my bald head on show for all the world to see. And do you know what happened?… Nothing! No one gave a f&@k! Turns out that strangers don’t really care what other strangers look like – even if they have no hair! Who’d have thought it…
So in just 13 weeks I’ve had five radically different hairstyles ranging from blonde hair to a clean head shave and I’ve learnt that none of it matters. It’s just hair. It doesn’t define you. It doesn’t change you.
Cancer treatment may take your hair but as long as it doesn’t take your smile then you’ll still be as beautiful as you always were.
And as an added benefit…you need a lot less time to get ready in the morning and save a fortune on hair products!…although you are sure to use up that cost saving on headscarfs, hats and accessories!
So, my advice, if you are loosing your hair due to chemo, embrace it! When else do you get to do something so radical with your look without judgment?!
Love, light and humour, Fi xx