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.

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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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An upside to chemo

Showering bald. Seriously.

Who knew that a simple shower could give you so much pleasure?

When you don’t have any hair blocking the way, all those wonderful, warm jets of water gently stimulate your scalp and it feels amazing.

It’s a revelation.

It feels like a soft, light head massage from an army of nimble-fingered fairies. Not as strong as what you get at the hairdresser or as intense as the Orgasmatron metal head massagers that were huge a few years ago, rather these light little flicks that dance across your scalp with just enough oomph to make them rejuvenating rather than ticklish.

It’s not just me. Charlize Theron was all about bald showers when she was filming Mad Max.  “It was really fun to shower with my bald head. You have not showered until you’ve showered hairless,” she said.

And I found this on You Tube

 

 

Day 16

Sixteen days after your first chemo session is when your hair starts to go.

It’s very specific and turns out it’s bang on.

I was styling my hair this morning and when I went to wash my hands, they were covered in hair. Not a huge wad, but enough strands that when I rubbed my palms together they created a nice little hairball that I threw in the bin.

My palms were sticky from the hair product and the friction of rubbing them through my hair  had turned them into the hair equivalent of a mosquito strip. They stuck and they stuck fast.

When I was a kid and had a loose tooth, I would play with it, poking and wiggling it even though I knew I shouldn’t. It was too much of a temptation not to touch it.

I’m doing the same thing with my hair. I run my hands through it and each time a little bit more comes out.

I’m not too sure why, it’s a macabre fascination.

Maybe I want it to go, at least that way it’s done.