Being bald is not too bad

One of my biggest fears going into chemo was losing my hair.

I’ve written about it before, so not going to go into too much detail, but now that it’s happened I can see why I was so scared, it’s the big signifier that you’re sick.

Nobody bats an eyelid at a bald guy, but a bald girl? You get a lot of looks, all fleeting but you can see them go through the various stages of curiosity, pity and then embarrassment when you catch them staring.

I can’t blame them, I’d probably do the same. Humans are curious creatures and our first instinct when we see something out of the norm is to have a squizz.

I thought I would be very self conscious about it and for the first few days I was. I had a wig plus faux fringe, which is like a headband, to wear under hats and scarves. The ends peek out so it’s more of a look rather than the more obvious cancer scarf.

But then we had that first hot weekend a few weeks ago and I couldn’t bear the thought of a wig, so I whipped it off at my in-laws’ place. Up until then, only The Boy and my hairdresser had seen me in all my bald glory. It was a huge relief, the new wig felt suffocating and I could only wear it an hour at a time then, so once I got rid of it my sweaty scalp picked up the breeze and cooled me down. Although I did have to be reminded to apply sunscreen, it’s virgin skin up there and ripe for burning. The last thing I need right now is to encourage melanoma.

A colleague asked for a post-shave pic and even though I wasn’t comfortable going public at that point, I happily sent her a text. It was a little patchy then, as not all the hair had fallen out, and her comment that I looked like a hot, butch lesbian made me laugh.

It helps that even though I’m halfway through I still have my brows and lashes *knock on wood, I have nine weeks to go*. My thick, dark, unruly wog brows which were once the bane of my existence have thinned but they’re still there, stubbornly hanging on and for that I’m grateful because I realised that’s what’s helping me. It’s not the baldness that makes you look sick, it’s the lack of brow.

Then the weather turned, winter made a comeback and I reverted back to beanies.

As it slowly got warmer, this week not withstanding, I’d get hot on our morning walks and would take off my beanie. Yes people look, but I don’t give a shit anymore.

My friends and family have seen me bald, they’ve even given it a rub for good luck but that’s been about it.

And then today I posted a bald selfie. It’s #brightpinklipstick day, an initiative from Pink Hope to encourage women to talk about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Seeing as I have a faulty BRCA2 gene, it’s something that I want to get behind.

IMG_6204

A bit of make-up, natural light and the right Instagram filter bolstered my confidence and I have had a lot of lovely messages from friends and strangers on social media. I guess no one wants to be a dick to a cancer patient, unless they’re hiding under a pseudonym.

Another reason was that when I was diagnosed and frantically Googling cancer blogs for first-person experiences, I found ‘Hair is Overrated’ by Vicki Connerty on Debrief Daily and it really helped me.

http://www.debriefdaily.com/health/diagnosed-with-cancer/

So, for anyone out there that’s terrified of starting chemo and losing your locks, and you will be, take comfort in the fact that it’s ok. It means the drugs are working.

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10 thoughts on “Being bald is not too bad

  1. Wow. I’m still too scared to go public with mine. I still have a light covering of baby fine hair that makes me look kind of like a mad scientist and I am contemplating using the OH clippers to get rid of it.
    Hope all goes well with your Docetaxol.

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    1. So far, so good Clare. I had it on Friday and was told to expect the joint pain to kick in Monday or Tuesday.
      I found the ice gloves bearable if you alternate them. It’s too much when both hands are freezing, so swap them out. Two minutes at a time is much easier than a two hour stretch.

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      1. Good to hear you are ok so far. I’ve read some horror stories about Docetaxol. My Macmillan unit haven’t mentioned ice gloves but just to paint my nails a really dark shade of polish. Gives me a chance to wear blacks and purples for a change!
        I will ask the team on Wednesday about the gloves when I see them on Wednesday.

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      2. I also heard about wearing dark polish to protect your nails, going to treat myself to a mani/pedi as a reward for getting through this week.
        Ice gloves weren’t too bad, I found it best to alternate hands so you have one in for two minutes at a time and when it starts to hurt just swap. A lot easier than trying to keep them both iced for two hours.

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  2. Take lots of pics. You’ll be glad you have them a year or two from now. I will say, for me, mentally, it was probably hardest losing the lashes and brows. I started to not recognize myself. Makeup is a huge help there though in still feeling like a human! And hopefully your hairs hang on, not everyone loses them. I think it can depend on the type of chemo and how you react. But yes, I would just tell myself that fact that my chemo was so intense meant that it was working and killing all those pesky cells. You have to tell yourself that to get through it all, I think. Your hair will be sprouting again before you know it though, and growing it back through all the different lengths is SO fun. I will say, now that I have hot flashes all the time that make my hair all sweaty, I sometimes long for the bald days. The grass is always greener… 😉

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    1. I’ve just started taking pics Steph, I wasn’t so keen on it at the start but I am documenting it a lot more. Which is strange, I didn’t have any issues about writing about it, but taking photos was a lot more confronting.
      My face has always been all about my massive brows, so if they go that will be hard. Fingers crossed they hang in there for a bit longer, they’ve thinned since that shot was taken but even if they do go, I now know it’s not the end of the world.
      And I am looking forward to rotating through different styles when my hair starts to grow back. I’ve always been a long-hair girl so it’s a chance to try cuts that I wouldn’t have had the balls to do before.

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  3. Thankyou! Thankyou for your honesty and your openness in sharing your experiences so far. I’m current at day 10 after my first chemo session and can relate to so much of what you’ve written so far in your blog! I wish you all the best as you continue down this shitty road!

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    1. Thank you Diana, you too.
      It is shitty, but it does get better.
      I found reading other blogs helpful and I’m so glad that you’re getting something out of this.

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      1. My hair started falling out on Wednesday night so my kids, husband and mum all helped to shave it all off. Kids thought it was great fun!! It was good to all have a laugh as its been an otherwise crappy week (I’ve been in hospital since Monday night ….. fingers crossed they’ll let me escape tomorrow!). The kids have just visited me and decorated my head with stick on tattoos!! I have Angry Birds, butterflies and flowers all over my head now!! 😜 I highly recommend it! It’s quite therapeutic and gives everyone a good laugh!! 😂

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      2. That sounds like a really lovely way to do it, if the kids are involved and think it’s a game it won’t be scary for them seeing you without hair.
        Plus, if you don’t laugh at the absurdity of it all, you just end up crying.

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