When they say you lose your hair around the 14th day after your first chemo, you need to be prepared because they are absolutely correct. It is a very tough reality to come to terms with, especially for me since I was an 80’s chick and my hair was a temple!
I really had no idea on where to begin with this project since I was still in a fog so a dear friend of mine did some research and found a wig specialist in Pittsburgh. My hair had not fallen out yet and it was very beneficial for me to do this before it happened. It was a fun girls day out where we went to see this amazing man who actually fitted many wealthy ladies in Pittsburgh when wigs were popular. He told us stories about how the wig was a fashion statement and how he would have to travel with some of the ladies to make sure the wigs were placed perfectly on their heads for major events. The wig I ended up buying is the picture to the right, it was perfect for me. The only problem is I couldn’t wash or style it. The need to feel human during the time you lose your hair is very important. A wig made from human hair is a tool to do this. Another friend of mine found a place that had these wigs provided by beautiful women who gave up their hair to help cancer patients feel good. My second wig was spectacular – my true hair color and I could wash, blow dry, and style it in different ways. Truth be told these wigs were not cheap and luckily I had AFLAC Cancer insurance which had a wig reimbursement. A cheaper, good wig is surprisingly by Raquel Welch. I found a couple different styles online that were very nice for when I wanted to change up my look from time to time.
Locks of Love is an amazing charity to always remember. Several people donated their hair in my honor. It is a special thing to do for children who suffer from hair loss, a kindness like no other.
When the 14th day happened it was the worst day of my journey that I remember. The fall out starts gradually. I remember laying on the couch and when I got up, I looked at the white pillow and hair was all over it. It scared me and when it started happening more and more, I knew what I had to do. The day I got my port placement was what prompted me to shave it off. I came out of surgery and when I got up from my hospital bed, again my hair was all over my pillow. I was terribly embarrassed and it was time to face to cold hard fact that my hair was leaving me. I didn’t want to go to a beauty salon, it was too upsetting, so my husband assisted me in the process with his hair clipper. I watched my hair fall off into the sink – many years of hair spraying, curling, coloring, and overall abuse. Surprisingly I didn’t cry, I was numb and the buzz cut was not that bad. Although I should’ve shaved it bald because it becomes like a prickly cactus when you are sleeping! I walked out of the bathroom and the pain from the port surgery started to hit me and I realized this whole cancer situation was not getting any better, it was getting worse. I had a foreign object inside of me that threaded from my jugular vein down into my chest, I was losing my hair, and the chemo drugs were taking full affect of my body. I crumpled to the ground and just wanted to leave the earth. It was a terrible moment in time, one where I was ready to accept defeat. It was also a moment when I summoned my strength and felt a power above me that said get up and fight. I found my faith again and my will to live, it was the moment when I became a warrior.
To be clear, it’s not only your head hair you lose, it’s every single hair on your body. You don’t realize that the tiniest of hairs such as your nose hairs, do very important jobs for your body. Grab the kleenex becase your nose runs alot during treatment! I think the toughest areas are eyebrows and eyelashes. Losing these certain facial features really made me look like an alien. There is another wonderful charity thatI did not utilize and wish I did, Look Good Feel Better. I have always been a makeup junkie and thought I could easily do my own make up but when you lose these pieces, it’s very hard to navigate how to place them back on everyday. I remember coming home from work some days and my one eyebrow would be smudged, wig lopsided, or my fake eyelashes half hanging off. It was too funny, I really learned how to laugh at myself and find the humor in it all!
Getting over this hump in the cancer journey was very tough but it was liberating when I did. The hair eventually all fell out and I learned to live with it. It actually made my life easier and cut my time to get ready to for work drastically. Although, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt like a cancer patient with a wig on. When I felt comfortable with my new self, I shed the wig. Plus it was just too hot & uncomfortable to wear them in the Summertime. I took pride in my warrior look and started to wear baseball hats instead and cute earrings since you could really show them off. I still have my wigs, not sure why, so I have them stored in shoe boxes at home and it scares the living daylights out of me when I forget they are there and I think an animal got into my closet! Wigs me out 🙂