When I found out I was going to have to get chemo, I knew hair loss was going to happen. I told myself it was not a big deal. Hair would grow back. I can wear a wig, hat, turban, scarf, etc. I never even had great hair to begin with. It’s wavy, frizzy, and dry. I really shouldn’t be too attached to it. It’s just hair!
Then suddenly on Tuesday after I washed my hair, for the first time I saw my hair starting to fall out. In large quantities. Not quite chunks, but very heavy shedding. It was all over the bathroom floor and shower. Then I tried to comb my hair and even more fell out. I wasn’t ready to see this. I thought it wouldn’t happen this soon and it would take a few more weeks before it started falling out.
I cried to Roberto about it. He comforted me and we went over reasons there are more important things to focus on than hair:
- Roberto didn’t fall in love with me because of my hair and loves me no matter what my hair is like or what I look like.
- My family loves me unconditionally, regardless of my hair.
- My friends are not friends with me because of my hair.
- My hair does not change the ultimate end goal of my cancer treatment, to be cancer free.
- If anything, my hair falling out means that the chemotheraphy is working.
- My hair loss has no impact to the baby’s health and development which is far more important.
- The hair loss is temporary. It will grow back.
Logically, I know these are all very good reasons why I shouldn’t be afraid of losing my hair and focus my energy on something else. But I had one recurring thought that seemed to override all the positive thoughts above.
I realized I was afraid of what I was going to look like without hair.
It’s scary to me simply because it is unknown and a bridge I have never crossed. After talking to other wonderful sources of support and also reading more online, it’s incrementally easier to cut my hair short now than to deal with long clumps of hair falling out later. I called my hairdresser and even though she was fully booked up this week, she graciously was able to squeeze me in after her shift was over because she realized my urgency.
Over the next 30 hours before my hair appointment, I went through a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. Sad because this was all happening way too fast. Scared because I didn’t know what I would look like and I may not like it. Worried that Camila would not recognize me. Roberto told me he thought I had a cute shaped head and that I would look great no matter what. Maggie and Sherrie picked out some hats for me to choose from for them to order. Slowly, an unwilling acceptance started to set in as more hair shed.
Maggie and Roberto came along with me to my hair appointment. It was nice having them there to put my mind at ease. Jenni, my hairdresser, talked through ideas with me. I went in thinking I needed to shave it all off and that a short interim haircut was pointless because I’d eventually go bald. The idea of shaving it off was probably what made me nervous all along. Jenni convinced me that we could just do a short, feminine haircut to transition to short hair. Then when I was ready or needed it, we could later shave it. This sounded much more reasonable and less nerve wracking.
Jenni started cutting my hair, erring on the “longer” side of a short haircut. She asked me if I wanted to cut more off. I tried to find the balance between having a styled short haircut, but not something too long that would eventually still leave clumps of hair everywhere.
We evetually got to the final length. I’m happy with it. I know that I will eventually go bald, but this is a way to ease into seeing myself with less hair and also avoid seeing clumps of hair when it eventually all falls out.
The unknown is no longer unknown and not scary anymore. Camila recognized me right away! Roberto likes it too. I’ll enjoy this new look until I go bald.
Thank you to Jenni at Emmanuel Salon in Sugar Land who kindly comped my haircut ❤️