May 14, 2010

Hair loss

I stood in the shower this morning and suddenly noticed hairs on my hand. Every time I touched my hand to my head I found more hairs. After a few scrubs of shampoo it suddenly dawned on me: this is hair loss from chemo. I swear, I didn't realize what was happening right away. This from a woman who has had hair loss from radiation and knew what to expect from chemo.

I said, "Oh, shit." No tears, no moaning, just an expletive. I carefully toweled off, patted my hair dry, and tried to go on with my morning. Naturally I found hairs all over my pillowcase. In my sleep I kept brushing off the pillowcase and wondering when Bobka the dog had been on my pillow.

After dressing, breakfast, and a telephone interview with a writer from Living Beyond Breast Cancer (for a brochure on metastatic cancer and stress -- think I was having a stressful day so far?), I decided I would take action. Better to have the wig in hand and a shaved head than to find more hair on the pillowcase and in the shower every day for a week. I am such a control freak.

I also posted this news on Facebook and within minutes had wonderful feedback from friends who were online. Thank God for social networking!

Diana at Hair Options knew exactly where to find the wig that I chose a few weeks ago. She offered to buzz my head, but I wasn't sure how emotional that would be and I didn't want to take chances while driving for only the fourth time in six weeks. So she pulled out a wig cap to keep my hair in place, put the wig on, and trimmed it to suit me. It's exactly my shade of dark brown and in a style I have worn before, kind of a short pixie with a fluffy back. And for me, it was affordable.

After stopping for lunch (Hawaiian style BBQ chicken over green salad) and treating myself to an ice cream at Molly Moon's (salted caramel and "scout" mint in a cup), I went to Trader Joe's for some groceries. I managed to get in more driving, especially a short hop on the highway, and cope with everything. I never got to yoga, but thought it was better to get the wig thing over with before Monday's chemo.

In the afternoon I picked up Rik and we went to the hairdresser to have my hair buzzed off. (I wanted him to drive home in case I got upset.) It was more than weird to see myself bald. I cried a bit but was not as overwhelmed as I feared. A little ativan also helped immensely. And it turns out that without hair, you can see that I inherited my father's receding hairline as well as his build and his stubbornness.

If I feel up for the comments it will generate, my newly bald head and I, in the wig or in a hat, plus Rik, will head over to the synagogue for a community dinner and lecture by our scholar-in-residence. And if not, friends have offered to bring dinner over.

Maybe I will get a henna tattoo on my head and look extra cool this month. And in the spirit of new beginnings, now I will plant the basil I bought earlier today.


  1. oh go for the tattoo! and keep up the ativan!


  3. The hair loss thing is a biggy. I'll never forget the sickening feeling of looking at all that hair as I stood in the shower. Never. It was the day before Thanksgiving. I got up the next morning and shaved my head myself, alone, before anyone got up so that I could cry and not feel guilty about it. But I did not cry. It just seemed sensible. I did not want to get hair in the turkey.

  4. Let's hear it for no other side effects and great results.

    And next time you want a buzz, just let me know; I can bring clippers and lunch to you. I might even try a henna graphic, myself.