Losing My Hair

I got a very short buzz cut last Tuesday because my hair was starting to fall out in clumps when I showered. I had gotten my long hair cut short to make this easier, but honestly I don’t think there exists a way to make this step easy. I had originally planned to do it when my two aunts were in town so I could do it with a posse and try to not make it so bad. There’s the saying “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” and it couldn’t be truer than when applied to cancer. I was scheduled to get it cut on Friday and the Saturday before it started coming out in clumps which made me cry. I knew emotionally I couldn’t handle almost a week of doing that every day so I called and was able to get an appointment for Tuesday morning.

I skipped washing my hair for the next couple of days so I didn’t need to see it filling the drain each day. Tuesday I washed it since I was getting it cut and it was just as bad and hard so I knew I made the right decision. My Dad and A. came with me and I went again to Stephanie who had cut my hair for me in the beginning of all of this and has done for other women before. I wish it could have given me the empowered feeling that cutting it off to begin with had, but it just doesn’t work that way in this stage of the game.

In this stage of the game it was another thing reminding me that I’m not in charge and taking control away from me. It’s also really hard losing hair. It’ll grow back, but not for a long time and it also won’t be the same when it does per every account I’ve read. I’ve always viewed my hair as a big part of my self expression and spent thousands over the years on cutting it and dying it (I’m not high maintenance, it just adds up after 30 years guys). I’ve spend hours braiding it, straightening it, smoothing it, etc. I’ve had blonde streaks, pink streaks, purple streaks, and now blue streaks. I’ve had it down to the middle of my back and now as short as a faux hawk. My hair matters to me and having to lose it really really sucks.

I cried when we shaved it. I really didn’t want to because I was/am sick of crying, but again, lack of control… A. and my Dad both shaved the initial pieces. I had them do it because it made me feel like I was less alone in this. I instructed my Dad to not go anywhere near my ears because he was fired as my little brother’s barber when he clipped an ear with the scissors. It wasn’t pretty. The clippers had a good safety guard though so no nicks. My scalp was sore and really sensitive so it was unfortunately a little painful getting it buzzed.

So we cut it to a super short buzz cut and it’s been steadily falling out since then. Annoyingly though it doesn’t fall out evenly or in any sort of order. Cut me a freaking break. Like isn’t it bad enough I’m going bald? Do I really need a bald patch on the back of my head? About as much as I need a third boob. So anyways there’s no photos at this point in the game because it’s just too damn bad and I really don’t need a permanent internet record of the brief period when my head looked like a quilting accident. You long distant people will just have to wait for when I’m bald.

The good news is that my head is totally round and pleasantly shaped. Who knew? No weird dents or bumps so I feel like I’m pulling this off to the best of my ability. I also have my great blonde wig for when I feel like looking like I have real hair and a few little caps when I feel like Rhett Butler aka I don’t give a damn.

To add to the weird list of things that I never thought I would do but have done now thanks to the big C: 1. I’m moisturizing my scalp because it’s really dry with the hair falling out. Hoping this gets better once I’m done shedding 2. Based on other ladies recommendations who have gone through this, I’m using a lint roller on my head to pick up all of the hair shedding. Totally weird, but totally works.

Comparisons from people I love and still love, but haven’t helped:

1. Sinead O’Conner: I read a lot of celebrity gossip. She’s really bad looking these days and totally nuts. No thanks.

2. G. I. Jane: Yes I am a white girl with no hair, thanks.

3. My brother: I’m grasping at my femininity right now with all of this, comparisons to any dude are not helpful.

Cutting it off has helped because it’s not nearly as traumatizing to have little hairs come out compared to seeing the shower drain filled with my hair. It’s also easier each day as it becomes less of a shock to see myself in the mirror. I still forget that it’s gone, but it’s less shocking when I see myself. I feel like I have a neon sign on my forehead when I go out with a little cap or nothing on, that says “CANCER PATIENT”. I’m trying to get over this and hopefully I will eventually, but that has only gotten minisculely easier each day. I still stand by my wishes that I don’t want anyone to shave their head. It would make be feel better to see A. get his head shaved because it would make me feel less alone in this, however I would want it to grow back immediately which isn’t possible so no dice on the shave. I don’t think about my baldness most of the time and I would have to think about it every time I saw his and I just don’t need that kind of reminder.

As with most things, someone else has already written about this and done it better than me: I recommend a read

Today I’m sitting in the chair getting my second to last AC chemo. One more and hopefully food and I can continue our lifelong love. Sometimes the third and fourth of these are the worst per my fellow BC club members so wish me luck. I’ve got some homemade chicken noodle soup waiting for me at home and I’m re-reading the Stand to prepare for the post ebola world.

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6 comments

  1. I’ve just read this and is so similar to my experience of loosing my hair I had the same emotions feelings and thoughts when I saw my head after I had it shaved. I shaved mine so i had the control, my hair was my lifeline I loved having my hair done I felt like me if I did. Now it’s gone I’m coping ok and like you my head is actually small and looks ok still doesn’t make it easy though. Anyways just wanted to comment as I really found your post interesting xx

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  2. My hair started falling out like a lot because of baldness in my family, Came out in the shower and everything. Totally sucked!! would wake up and it would be all over the pillow, on the floor. I used to be able to part it. Taking propecia now which helped a lot. Hair is so important! I love brushing it, feeling it in the wind! great post. I remember your crazy hair colors at Tabard! woohoo. Wish I dyed it crazy too but my parents would have gone nuts. Maybe I will in grad school? Always meant to die it a beautiful Dartmouth green.

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  3. Hi Jenna,
    Thanks for the link to your blog post about hair loss. It helps knowing I’m not the only one out there who has had to deal with this lately – I know of course I’m not, but sometimes this cancer journey is so lonely it feels like I am all alone. I’d love to see a pic of your hair – how long before it started growing back? I have 2 more cycles of AC left, and then 12 weeks of Taxol. I don’t think there will be any hair growth until all that passes! At the moment I quite like my bald head. I’m happy to wear it bare in public. I think as soon as the tiny bits of hair fall out though, I’ll be hiding it under a scarf or hat – not sure how good a patchy scalp will look!
    Thanks for all your lovely comments and pearls of wisdom. I really appreciate them.
    Kate x

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      1. Hah! If you use gmail it’s a very easy to use video chat. If not we could skype too. I’ll be stuck in bed for a few weeks starting tomorrow so let’s do it!

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