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Hair Loss

Hair Loss

Posted by Tiggrrrz on Nov 1, 2019 6:30 am

So, everybody knows that hair loss is a possibility when undergoing cancer treatment. Besides nausea, it’s probably one of the foremost side effects. And everyone probably prepares for this eventuality by doing what I did. Telling themselves that it’s only hair and it will grow back. But here’s what really happens. You now have physical proof that something bad is happening here. That your body and mind is battling something so fierce that it has to give up something in order to complete its task. That your cancer is real.
Before, you could perform your daily tasks to a certain extent and block out the why. When clumpfuls of hair start coming out in your hands, the cancer becomes a physical reality. It’s now not just an invisible diagnosis, it’s presence is now physically known. And therein lies the rub. Your hair now becomes extremely important to you if only it would stay put! So, you hold this hair in your hands and stare at it for an eternity. Then, just to make sure you’re not imagining this or that it’s not some freakish nightmare, you run your hands through your hair again and see more clumps fall out. So it’s proven. Your cancer is real and now you can’t deny it.
This is what happened to me last Sunday. I may forget the day my cancer was diagnosed. I’ll never forget the day my hair started falling out.
So, I did cry when I thought I wouldn’t. Silly right? Silly no. But don’t forget. Grieve for the loss of your hair. Bemoan the fact that you have cancer. Curse the fact that it’s not fair. But one thing you must, must do is get back on that rickety old nag and ride it to the end because as I see it....after all I’ve been through, my d*** hair is not going to break me.
I’ve already called my hairdresser and she’s going to give me a buzz cut tomorrow. No sense waiting for the inevitable. I’m taking control once again and will determine what happens here dammit. So the hair will come off when I decide and I won’t be reminded daily when clumps come out in my hands. I will wear my beanie or I won’t wear my beanie. Now, it’s one less thing to worry about. I will save money on shampoo and conditioner and I won’t have remnants of hair on my clothes, on my pillow, in my food nor everywhere on my floor. I am shutting that door with a bang.
So to everyone who is going through this. You’re not alone when you mourn the loss of your hair. What’s important is that you don’t dwell on the fact and you make a conscious decision to continue forward, one foot in front of the other and kick this beast to the curb!
TïGž

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Brighty on Nov 1, 2019 7:22 am

Tiggrrrz‍  thank you for sharing with us how so many people are probably  feeling.       Your courage and determination will help so many others.    You are a force to be reckoned  with!!! 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Nan1 on Nov 1, 2019 9:30 am

Tiggrrrz
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I commend you for taking control.
I will be facing this very shortly.  I start chemo on Monday.  My hair was past the bottom of my shoulder blades.  It was  last week I decided to cut my hair short in preparation for the inevitable.  It would have been too much of a change for me to just buzz my head so I had it cut very short...up to the nape of my neck.  I have not had my hair this short since I was a kid.  Next Friday I am going to have my hair buzzed.  Since I start chemo Monday I should be okay until then.  I have my hats and wigs all ready to go.  You are
not silly for crying.  I cried when my long hair was chopped to my neck.  I know that I will cry even harder when I get my hair buzzed but I would rather do it myself than wait for the cancer to decide it is time for my hair to go. I am dreading doing this but it has to be done.  
 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Scostley on Nov 1, 2019 10:13 am

I  too am waiting for the inevitable hair loss to start. I'm on day 8 after my first chemo session. I have my stylist on speed dial for a buzz cut.  I am worried my young grandchildren won't recognize me or be scared. I really don't know how I will feel. If I could trade the hair for not feeling so nauseous 24/7 I would be tempted!🤣 I guess the big thing is that I know now there's no hiding the diagnosis and I'll have to deal with other people's emotions and sympathy.  

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Buffythevampire on Nov 1, 2019 11:46 am

Tiggrrrz‍ What I remember is I didn't realize how much I touched my head/hair. I would get a handful of hair each time. And seeing the hair bits on my clothes, pillowcase and in the bathtub drain. The bathtub drain is what bothered me the most. Seeing it everywhere and the mess is what prompted the shaving it off. You mentioned the saving the shampoo, I will remember the saving time not shaving my legs/pits. I am also thankful that the hair loss happened in the summer, the warm months. Not everyone is that lucky.

But now it is almost 2 months since the end of my chemo and the hair is growing again. I have what I would call a 5 o'clock shadow. At first I could feel it but not really see it, but now I can see it. I think that is a good indication that it is not going to be all grey, that I will be my normal brown. Now to wait to find out the texture. Don't have to shave the pits/legs yet.

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Tiggrrrz on Nov 1, 2019 3:19 pm

Hey Buffythevampire‍ 
Totally understand the touching your hair thing & hair in the bathtub. Every time I ran my hands through my hair or to move my bangs out of my face I was like dang girl! Don’t do that! Yet it seemed I was doing it every hour or when I meant to do it I would physically stop myself when my hand was already in my hair. Lol. And, after I got through the absolute shock of seeing all my hair in the bathtub drain, I was like dang....need to get me some draino!
TïGž

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Nov 1, 2019 3:35 pm

Tiggrrrz‍ 

I remember too thinking "well now I look sick" Before the head shave I could go about my daily business and no one outside my circle was the wiser. I hated what I perceived to be pity looks.
I wrote to someone else on here about my hair loss experience so I am copying and pasting it here:

I agree that even though I knew it was coming, it still hit me really hard.  I was about 2 weeks post 1st chemo when I ran my hand through my hair and found a handful of it in the palm of my hand. I broke down in tears. I had cancelled an appt with a wig salon that afternoon to go to a funeral. I had a lot of very thick longer hair so I was able to get by for another week or so with it just thinning out a lot. I spent that week trying on hats and wigs all over town and joking that I couldn't commit any crimes as my DNA was EVERYWHERE! 😉  I finally found a wig I liked while out shopping with a girlfriend. Prior to that I had 2 wig shopping trips with my mom and then my niece. I tried on every ridiculous style and colour and we took pics which I posted on FB for some fabulous and funny feedback. The day I brought my wig home, my girlfriend that was with me was about to leave so that my boyfriend could then shave my head. He asked her to stay as he thought I might need more support. She cut off my hair to the back of my neck and then he proceeded to shave it. He kept a bald head himself and I always did his head shaves so despite the emotional aspect to it, he was happy to do it for me. I was well equipped with an adult beverage and a box of tissue - both of which I took full advantage of. With my permission, he first shaved a Mohawk in my head. We took pictures along the way and I laughed but I also cried a lot. I felt that I now looked sick and before that I didn't. 
After all that, I rarely wore my wig - and when I did it was almost always to make other people feel comfortable. I had chemo over winter so toques or ball caps didn't seem out of place. Around the house I wore nothing but my shiny dome..
I did purchase a few hats from a site called https://www.headcovers.com/ - they are specifically designed to cover more area so less of the bald head is showing.  I found that the sensitive scalp was an issue on a cotton pillow case so I used a super soft cotton cap - think bamboo or the kind that baby's hats are made of. I got one from my Look Good Feel Better program ( https://lgfb.ca/en/ ) .
One thing I have learned anecdotally from talking to many women who have gone through this, is that generally hair will grow back more evenly etc if it is shaved. Those that tried to hold on to some of it that didn't fall out, had patchy spots and the hair didn't grow in evenly. This is not scientific by any means, but definitely seems to be common..

I have heard of people having shaving parties, doing it on their own, going to a hairdresser - everyone will have their own way to cope and get through it. Though it is not for everybody, I am glad I have the pictures to look back on now. My hair definitely came back very different than it was before but it has given me a chance to try all kinds of styles and colours and I really do now think "It's just hair".  That was a much harder thought though when it left me.

Another thing to note as you may have heard and or experienced - the other hair on your body will come out as well - legs, arms, underarms, eyelashes, brows and yes even there ;)  I even noticed my nose hairs were gone and found out they have a very important filtering job to do. It does make for quick showers and I did manage with a brow powder and eyeliner.

Wishing you well going forward. Keep us posted how you are doing

Lianne

 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Tiggrrrz on Nov 1, 2019 5:29 pm

Thanks soooo much Lianne_adminCCS‍ ! It touched my heart to know the same feelings were prevalent & I loved the way she had fun with the whole process.
Thanks for sharing!
TïGž

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Nov 1, 2019 6:04 pm

Tiggrrrz‍ 

That was actually my experience 😁. But I did definitely try to have fun with it ( through the tears )

Will be thinking of you for your buzz cut tomorrow .

Take care

Lianne

 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Kims1961 on Nov 1, 2019 7:15 pm

Tiggrrrz‍   That's the spirit!!!  This entire post is warming my heart as I can so relate. I had long hair - cut it short for the inevitable and on Christmas Day - it fell out in clumps.  I had a big Christmas dinner to go to so I made "fake braids" and wore them under a santa hat...ha ha..

I remember thinking the same - now I look sick and when my eyelashes and eyebrows went - I became a human emojiji!

Just after my hair experience I watched a CBC documentary called "Thunder Blanket" - a powerful series of an indigenous woman battling breast cancer.  When she lost her hair - it was also her native culture that was effected.  Definitely worth a watch.  THank you for your post!

https://gem.cbc.ca/media/short-docs/season-1/episode-4/38e815a-009da1b5a41






 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Tiggrrrz on Nov 1, 2019 7:58 pm

Lianne_adminCCS‍ & Kims1961‍ .
Thnaks for sharing your personal experiences....they say misery loves company but I like to think of it as solidarity builds bridges!
Thanks again to all. It’s good to know I’m not in left field with this thing.
Cheers
TïGž

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Sunshine74 on Nov 1, 2019 9:29 pm

I can relate to the loss of hair experience big time!  I knew it was inevitable, but I was nowhere near emotionally prepared for it.  Though it was worse having it coming out in clumps than just having a bald head.  I got my husband to shave it after my second chemo treatment once it started coming out.  I am just passed 3 of 8 treatments now.  I wasn't a crier before cancer, but I cried for hours before and after he shaved it.  I have ordered a nice wig, but have a cheap one to wear out in the meantime.  With the weather getting cooler, I could probably just wear a toque out and noone would notice. 😜 All the power to the folks who can rock their baldness, or wear a beanie, but I just can't do it.

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by PinkCarnations on Nov 2, 2019 12:21 am

Hi Tiggrrrz‍  ... I just want to say that I admire your strength and determination!! I wish to conquer this beast as well as you do! 

~sending positive vibez your way

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by ashcon on Nov 2, 2019 9:04 am

Big love ❤️ for this conversation!  The number of responses to this speaks volumes. As you said, Tiggrrrz‍ , solidarity builds bridges! 

I had both breasts removed without any reconstruction  but for some reason the hair loss was more traumatic - go figure! 

It was almost 2 years ago exactly when I was fully bald. I'd had about 2 weeks of feeling absolutely miserable and self conscious, then I had the loveliest experience.  I was out for a walk on one of my local walking trails, wearing a head covering, and 2 women who were walking toward me, smiled broadly and said "good morning" to me. 
It sounds so minor and so mundane, but this was the first time I received such a warm, welcoming response (versus shocked, horrified looks!) to my obvious "illness". 
It made me realize that they, too, had possibly gone this route themselves, or knew someone who had. 

Then and there, I made a decision that, I too, would respond with this level of gentle kindness to anyone that I met out in public who was wearing a scarf, head covering,  or doing the bald look. 
Sadly there are far too many of us cancer patients out there. But this also means there is a lot more tolerance, acceptance, and compassion out there now then there was just 20 years ago when many of our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers were going through this! 

PinkCarnationsSunshine74ScostleyNan1‍ : good luck with your upcoming and ongoing treatments.  What you are sharing in this forum is so helpful to so many! 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Tiggrrrz on Nov 2, 2019 12:26 pm

Hey ashcon‍ .
Your email reaffirms what my heart was telling me....we all need to connect on some emotional level other than the obvious cancer treatments and it’s good to bare all when that’s what needs to be done.
i agree....I think times have changed but sadly, far too often we receive acceptance through others that have already walked our path and made it easier for us to walk that mile.
Also agree, if this cancer has done one good thing it’s the way I see others. No longer am I afraid to reach out. No longer do I hesitate to say something encouraging or positive to someone I feel needs it or maybe doesn’t. No longer do I turn away when I should be turning inward. No longer do I turn a deaf ear....every word I hear I cherish. Every smile I see I return and every laugh I hear is like music to me.
We all need this acceptance because we’re human beings and we thrive with it or wither from lack of it. But because I see acceptance everywhere, I am flourishing.
Thanks for your post ashcon‍ ....it further warmed my heart. ❤️ 
TïGž
 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Jlo on Nov 2, 2019 9:40 pm

Very well said Tiggrrz

Your post reminded me of my own hair loss and how saddened I was to lose my long hair. Lianne has given you some great advice.  Many cancer centers have a wig exchange and also sell hats.  I had great fun making hats and head scarves to match my outfits.  Some lovely scarves on the market too.  People were kind and often smiled or opened doors for me.  

Find a gentle shampoo as you still need to wash your scalp.  I don't recommend Johnsons baby shampoo as it is filled with chemicals.  
you may want to carry Kleenex with you as once you lose your nose hairs, your nose drips when you go out in the cold - very annoying
My hair came back curly to begin with, but in the end it was darker and thicker.  Better than grey.  Best of luck with your treatments  joan

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Peanut on Nov 3, 2019 10:54 am

Hair loss next to worrying about the nausea was big on my list when I was told I needed to have chemo.  It was hard to say which one was playing bigger in my mind.  I was fortunate to not have any hair loss until a week after my second chemo treatment.  At first I started losing hair ‘down there’ and that wasn’t a big deal.  I was really hoping leg hair was to go next as I had stopped shaving.  Nope!  The leg hair seemed determined to hang in there which made me laugh.  As for the hair on my head I learned to make fun of the idea of losing my hair by saying things like, “next week you might not recognize me as I won’t have hair”. Or when my eyebrows fall out I’m going to draw them in different every day and one day I will do angry brows so you will know to stay away from me and then another day I’m going to draw them on as surprised or confused, etc.  I found by making jokes about it made it easier to feel like I wasn’t going to shock anyone if they next saw me looking different.  

My 11 year old daughter was the most stressed about the idea of me losing my hair.  She said she didn’t want to see me with a bald head and could I wear a wig all the time at home.  I told her that was not possible as the wig wouldn’t be comfortable for me to wear all day.  Then I got the idea to let her shave my head.  So last Saturday when I showered I had extra hair in my hands that I normally don’t have so I knew that was going to be the day.  I also had longer hair (below my shoulders) and had been told to cut it shorter to help get used to the idea.  What great advice!  I had a super cute hair cut for about a month that I think I will grow it back into when my hair returns.  I also joked to my hair dresser that she should have given me a bad short hair cut as it was going to make it harder to shave it since I liked the short cut so much.  So back to last Saturday when I shaved my head.  My daughter had a blast shaving it.  My husband was having a hard time as it was making it all so real for him as you shared in your post.  It was now a visual reminder of what is going on in my body whereas before he could pretend at times everything was normal.  When my daughter was done it needed a tidy up so I asked my husband to fix any areas she had missed (I left stubble as I didn’t want to go completely bald) and that really helped him to take part too.  We all laughed together and made it a private family moment.

I was sure I was going to cry and was surprised that I didn’t.  When I looked in the mirror I saw GI Jane looking back at me.  I thought to myself that it was a good image to see.  Instead of kicking bad guys butts I was kicking cancer’s butt.  I am soldier against cancer.  This was a great visualization for me.  I also shared my bald head with some close friends who don’t happen to know each other and they both said, “You’ve got a beautiful head that looks great without all that hair”.  I took hearing it from two different friends that don’t know each other as a true compliment.

Now I haven’t lost my eyebrows yet so I do wonder if that will be the day I cry.  Or maybe I will laugh as I draw on my confused or angry brows? :D 

Peanut

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Buffythevampire on Dec 3, 2019 12:36 pm

Yesterday a former co-worker of mine gave me a Christmas gift while I was at work. The gift was a bag that contained Monat Shampoo, Conditioner and a spray. It is to help with thinning hair. I used it this morning for the first time. It smells fabulous. I decided to look up the product online. Turns out there is multiple lawsuits because it is causing adverse effects such as hair loss. So, I have decided to let nature take it's course and not use any hair growing products. I wish my hair on my head would grow faster but there is some there and it's very dark. 

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Wendy Tea on Dec 3, 2019 6:49 pm

Buffythevampire‍ and all ladies out there, like me, with thinning or no hair, you are loved just the way you are.  The inner you shines through.

Hugs!

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Nan1 on Dec 3, 2019 7:36 pm

An update to my earlier post.  I did get my hair buzzed.  My kids were so amazingly supportive.  They both offered to shave their heads with me but I said no.  That being said there were some other ladies in the shop and they all were so supportive and offered encouragement.  The first buzz was the worst..I shed a few tears but pulled myself together real quick.  The hairdresser asked if she could continue.  I said go for it and do not stop.  It has to be done.  I actually was laughing by the end of it because I found it rather liberating and I now actually do not mind it at all.  I rarely wear my wigs as I find my head sweats too much.  I either just go bald or I wear a hat.  I already told my husband this is the easiest hair care I have ever had in my life.  I just may stick with short hair after this is all done.  My hair was really long before.  

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Rayline on Dec 3, 2019 9:51 pm

Wow good for you Nan1! I think that was very brave of you to do that. I wish you well with your upcoming treatments.

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Treepeo on Dec 4, 2019 10:31 am

Hi Tiggrrrz‍,

I thought it would be traumatic to lose my hair, but it wasn't, because I took charge right from the get-go.  First, I went out and bought some head scarves.  Then I went to my hairdresser and got my head shaved so I wouldn't have to deal with clumps coming out, which WOULD have been traumatic.  I then immediately went to the grocery store to face the world head on before I could chicken out.  And you know what?  No one paid any attention to me.  They were so busy looking at their cell phones that they took no notice of me.  Since then, I have gotten some looks, but big deal.  I have cancer, so what can I do?  It's nothing to be ashamed of.

What was worse was losing my eyelashes and nose hairs.  I found my eyes tearing in bright sunlight, or with the wind blowing.  And my nose ran like crazy.  So now I know why we have eyelashes and nose hair!

I have been off chemo for about three months now.  The hair on my head is starting to grow back slowly, but I don't have enough that I feel comfortable going bare-headed yet.  But my bush?  I tell you, that was the first thing to grow back.  Go figure.  And even though I am well past menopause, didn't I get the odd hairs growing from my chinny chin chin.  Honestly, there is no justice!  LOL

Hang in there, Tiggrrrz‍, there are benefits to being bald.  No more bad hair days.  And you just put on a scarf and go.  It's so easy!  Gotta look at the bright side . . .

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Runner Girl on Dec 4, 2019 10:53 am

Buffythevampire‍ ,

Have you tried applying castor oil to your scalp?  It works really well to kick start the regrowth.  I used it on my eyebrows also.  It's quite thick so mixing with a little coconut oil makes it easier to work with.

Runner Girl

Re: Hair Loss

Posted by Mammabear on Dec 5, 2019 12:07 pm

shaving my head the first time was hard. I had long thick hair and felt it was part of my identity. But, after shaving your scalp feels WAY better and showers on a bald head are amazing and I realized the hair wasn't that important after all. Also head massages.... so fantastic. 
What a bald head does is remind you, even when you are feeling good, that you are a cancer patient. Get out of the shower and see that naked scared hairless body and say ... oh ya right... Cancer. 
In some ways when you are moving slow and feeling bad and at the grocery store, the clerk sees the bald head and mask and offers to carry my groceries. So not all bad to look like the cancer patient. Play the card when you need to.
With Cancer 2.0 I shaved my head soon after it started to fall out. I didn't put up with the shed for very long. It was easier the second time. 
Even though the shower still feels amazing on a bald head and being hairless your showers are almost too fast, I still wish I had hair. Cancer 1.0 was summer and 2.0 is winter and I feel a constant draft on my neck. 
I am fortunate to have a mother who sews and knits and a sister who knits so I have a fantastic supply of knitted and sewed chemo caps. 

For those growing their hair back.... I never used shampoo for the first year. I used conditioner only or water. Hair is self cleaning. If you don't start with shampoo you will not strip the natural oils and not need it.
After my hair was long and curly and needed product to control the frizz I started using shampoo once/week to get product residue out and just conditioner the rest of the time. 
Try it...