“I never knew you had a little brother” was a running joke about me among my guy friends in high school. This was said whenever they’d come over to my house and see gems (such the one below) on the walls.
Later in life, I was very adamant on keeping my hair nice and long. I’m pretty sure it’s because of this phase mentioned above where my parents decided my face was cuter when my hair framed it. They were so wrong.
As vain as this is going to sound, a big part of my scare about chemo coming up was the fact that I was going to lose my hair. I wasn’t just going to revert back to my 6 year old self, I was going full out Caillou. I began to feel bad about all those times I made fun of that little kid with my friends. Also, it took Britney a long time to grow out her hair…what was I going to do?.
First treatment came and went by surprisingly easily. Did you know that even after your body is filled with poison for 6 hours, steroids will make you want to run a marathon? It’s pretty crazy. With my newfound chemo confidence, I start googling about hair loss. It hasn’t happened to me yet and the internet tells me it takes about 10-14 days for the drug to kill my fastest growing hair follicles…these happen to be the ones on my head. I also read that sometimes people don’t lose their hair so there’s my glimmer of hope.
Exactly 14 days go by and I wake up to a coating of hair on my pillow. I run my fingers through my hair and pull out a decent-sized hairball. This is freaky. You can read all about the side effects but no one can prepare you for the shock of seeing this much hair come out of your head – or how you hate the taste of salami for about a week after chemo (but that’s for a later story). However, it still doesn’t look too bad up there considering how much I’m seeing come out. I start balding over the next few days and I now look like an old lady whose hair is extremely thin…I’m shedding more than my cat at this point and my dad suggests we go to the barber shop. He’s shaving his head with me in solidarity (I know, he’s super cute). I really don’t want to do this though, the thought is making me cry again. I know I need to get rid of this hair because I do not look cute at this point.
One day I wake up and decide that I just can’t take this anymore. I grab my aunt’s hairdressing scissors and head to the basement to take matters into my own hands. The only experience I have is cutting my Barbies’ hair off, but all of mine is coming off too so who really cares at this point. I cut, and cut, and shaved, and shaved until I went from this:
I looked at myself in all of my bald glory. I had missed some spots and my dad’s razor wasn’t meant for shaving myself, but there I was and I felt surprisingly calm. It wasn’t until later that I realized I probably felt this way because I finally took matters into my own hands. I didn’t want to accept that I had to shave my head and look like a cancer patient, but the thing is – I am a cancer patient. I’ve now joined this community that I hadn’t had a chance to figure out or explore yet. I now know that it happens to be filled with some of the most courageous and compassionate people, and am proud that I too get to fight with them. Writing this particular post at this point I’ve also lost all my eyebrows and 90% of my eyelashes. This didn’t happen until recently so I’m shocked they held on for months.
Being hairless has its perks however. My two personal favourite perks are:
- 10 minute “get ready” time: my showers are super chill because I’m barely doing anything, no hair to straighten or curl or dry, 1 towel usage, and all I’m putting on are my eyebrows and wig
- I can change my wig and it instantly changes my appearance. I can do this as often as I want, and it’s fun to experiment with different hair colours. I’m still undecided on whether blondes have more fun.
This isn’t to say I’m totally comfortable rocking the Amber Rose look around people who aren’t my boyfriend, close friends and family yet, but I’m getting there slowly. Hair is really just an accessory and losing it has taught me the hard way that the heart is more important. I’ll be so much more grateful when I have a bad hair day later.