Chemo-hair, change and children.

A few weeks ago I cut my hair short to prepare my two young children for the changes that would occur once I began chemotherapy. I was lucky to know a wonderful hairdresser that gifted me the restyle and took time to help me choose the right cut. I left feeling positive and prepared for hair loss. So it was quite a heart wrenching moment when my youngest, aged 5, burst into tears at the sight of me. It didn’t take both my children long however to adjust to the new hair and decide they even liked it better short.

Around day 17 after my first treatment my scalp started to ache, it’s an odd sensation, a little like the feeling you get when you have your hair tied up tightly for too long. Then my hair started to fall out, not in clumps, but almost as a constant flow of individual hairs. The discomfort was a surprise and one I hadn’t really been aware of from the literature I had read. As a result I decided last night that it was time to clip it as short as possible in the hope that it would be easier to manage the fallout and the discomfort might ease. It was a surreal moment; my wonderful husband gently clipped my head as my daughter hid behind the sofa and my son sat in fits of laughter. At first they both insisted on a hat and were visibly relieved when I had my first wig fitted this morning.

The hairdressers that supplied my wig provided a private room for the fitting and a comforting cup of tea. I decided to dip my toe into the world of blondes with a lighter colour as I have read it can help lift the pale complexion that often accompanies chemotherapy. So it was that I ignored my husband’s advice to choose one what would match the black sharpie eyebrows he was planning to offer me and go for a honey highlighted bob. I love my wig, it’s beautiful and very realistic. It’s not too itchy, but it is more comfortable without it on, though even hats feel a little irritating at the moment.

I have tried to keep my head covered for my childrens comfort. Then tonight while I took a break from hats and sat watching some Tv with my daughter she reached up and stroked the fine covering of hair I still have and described how soft it was, she had decided that she liked it. Sometimes we try so hard to protect our children from anything and everything that might trouble them that we forget how resilient they are and how much more easily they adjust to change given lots of love and a little time.

Clipping my hair did relieve most of the discomfort, so it’s something to consider if you are in the same situation. I used the lowest clipper guard rather than shaving to protect my scalp from any accidental abrasions.

I know it will not be long before I loose what is left of my hair, and also possibly my eyebrows and lashes, but now I feel less worried about how my children will adapt.

Just after my first treatment I was admitted to hospital after passing out with low blood pressure and breathing difficulties. This left me worried and unable to take the immune system supporting medication. Hair loss seems such a small thing when you are faced with Cancer and the other symptoms of Chemotherapy, but it is a significant change that irrespective of your own fortitude inevitably affects your life and those around you. I feel thankful for my lovely husband for the humour he has injected into our situation and for making me feel beautiful without hair. I also feel enormous gratitude towards both the lovely lady that patiently assisted me to choose a wig and to everyone that has given me advice on how to manage hair loss.

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