How I felt losing my hair

For most people (except for my gorgeous hubby!) hair is such a fundamental part of our personality, it affects how we feel about ourselves, how we’re able to go about our daily lives and how we present ourselves to the world. Having a full head of healthy, beautiful hair can be an expression of individuality, a symbol of fertility and makes us feel more attractive and confident. Of course, we take all of this for granted, until there comes a time when it is taken away.

Losing your hair is difficult for anyone of any age or gender, but as a woman I have found it extremely hard – it’s part of who I am, how I present myself to the world and to me, it’s what makes me feel feminine.

Hair loss is much more than just a visual and cosmetic problem as I was soon to find out – it affects people emotionally too. Compared to those unaffected, people who struggle with hair loss have a more negative body image and are less able to cope with daily functioning. Hair loss can also be associated with low self-esteem, depression, introversion, and feelings of unattractiveness.

IMG_1098I had tried as hard as I could to mentally prepare myself for losing my hair, but in reality nothing can really prepare you for how it feels when it starts to come out. Two weeks after I’d had my first chemo treatment my scalp started to feel a little tingly and a bit itchy. In the days that followed, I noticed quite a few strands coming out and then almost a week after when I washed my hair, absolutely loads started to come out.

I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. I wanted to be as strong and as positive as I could be trying to deal with this whole experience, but I think when I started to lose my hair all the feelings and emotions I’d had inside about having cancer all came bubbling up to the surface and out like molten lava from a volcano. I became even more aware of my situation and started to deal with the emotions perhaps I had been previously more numb to. I felt like I was grieving for my hair, and grieving for the person I used to be. The reality of the start of this process was much harder than I ever imagined.

As silly as it sounds, having lived with having cancer and all it has encompassed and its low points for over 5 months of this year , I think it really hit me that I was officially a cancer patient – soon to be balding – no disguising the fact now. I felt down at the bottom low.

Right now as I write this it is a gloriously sunny day and I feel down right miserable. I love being outside in the sun and I can’t even do that due to photosensitivity from the chemo. My hair is falling out and very soon I know I’m going to look like the a typical ‘cancer victim’. I’m supposed to be going out today to a friend’s house for a birthday gathering and all I want to do is stay at home and not go anywhere or see anyone. I know this is not healthy for me as I need to have the courage to go out into the world and face people, and I’ll have to do it without any hair very soon, but it’s the way I feel today. Why did cancer pick me? What did I really do to deserve this sh1t?! Well I know that’s a damn stupid question because nobody in this world deserves to have cancer, it’s just sh1t bad luck. If by me having it I can reduce the statistical chance of my husband, one of my family or my friends having it then I’ll take it for the team. It still sucks.

I’m completely infatuated with other people’s hair. I look at my friends who have lovely long flowing locks, and look people in the street and on TV who all have amazing hair and I’m insanely jealous. I will never complain about having a bad hair day ever again. In fact, I won’t be complaining about a lot of minor and unimportant things in life again.

As the days turned into weeks, more and more hair continued to come out. There would be hair on my pillow, it would collect around my shoulders and even just by touching it, it would come away in my hands. The whole experience takes you right down to zero and it really rocked me to the core psychologically. I didn’t want to see people and I didn’t want people to see me either.

I stopped washing my hair so frequently – each hair wash was a form of torture – a bit more of me washing down the plughole. It magnified and intensified everything and brought all sorts of emotions to the fore. I’d psych myself up each time I washed my hair, telling myself that I could do this, that it was okay and that I would be alright. I’d take a long deep breath before looking in the mirror and would be scared of who was going to be looking back at me.

It may have been easier if I’d just shaved my head, I know other ladies have found this to be helpful – to ‘take back control’. I’d have to plan it strategically as I certainly didn’t feel like drinking alcohol for about 2 weeks after my chemo treatment, and I definitely wasn’t going to be shaving my head without the aid of a glass of wine for dutch courage! But I just didn’t have the balls to do it. I also thought I’d try getting my hair cut in a ‘pixie’ style, I felt all brave and empowered one day when I booked the appointment, but then I chickened out at the last minute, I just wasn’t ready yet.

Everyone says to you ‘it’s only temporary, it’ll grow back’, but that doesn’t really help when it’s actually happening, when it’s your world and it’s all too consuming. I can’t really imagine that far ahead into the future at the moment, when I’ll have hair that resembles something normal, or near to how it was – I’m just taking each day as it comes.

Thanks to my dear friend Lou and the kindness and generosity of my amazing friends, family and work colleagues I have been able to get two wigs. One is synthetic and a darker shorter style and the other a longer, blonder, real human hair wig.

The first time I wore the synthetic one out of the house I needed my husband to come with me. It felt so odd to be outside the house wearing it, it was unreal. But the comfort and support of walking next to Pats made it a lot easier to bear. The first time I wore the human hair wig out I was by myself. Check me out! It was an unbelievably scary experience – I felt so vulnerable and exposed.

For that first trip out in my human hair wig I actually wore it to the opticians. Brilliant, pick a place where you need to get up really close in front of someone why don’t you Allie?! As I walked up the crowded street to the opticians, I literally felt like I had one of those big lottery hands pointing down at me or a big neon light above my head with “She’s wearing a wig!” emblazoned on it. Although of course I have no doubt whatsoever that nobody batted an eye lid that day.

I got into the shop and sat waiting for my appointment, tapping away on my phone trying not to make eye contact with anybody. I was called into the eye testing room by a young chap, and the  whole time I was thinking, he knows I’m wearing a wig, what on earth must he be thinking. I felt so silly – it’s like being a pubescent teenager again with all the worries and hang ups you have about your body.

Through the powers of twitter I recently came across a young lady called Nalie Augustin. If you are someone who is facing the prospect of losing your hair or who already has, or who is just having a tough time in your cancer treatment I’d thoroughly recommend listening to her TEDTalk. I found her so inspiring and it’s hard not to be uplifted by her spirit, courage and outlook. She also created a hair dairy showing her hair growth every week for 22 weeks following her last chemo treatment – it’s amazing to see.

The more light hearted side of the hair situation is that I now get to choose which persona I want to be each day when I put my wig on! I really feel the need to name my wigs, but am yet to do so – I would love to know your thoughts?!

IMG_1320  IMG_0430

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “How I felt losing my hair

  1. I find myself staring at my work security pass a lot of the time, didn’t think I had nice hair before but I’d give anything to have my shoulder length bob back.

    There also seems to be an astounding amount of hair flicking ladies too and haircare adverts, don’t they drive you nuts!

    I cold capped so kept 80% of my hair, its now 7 months after my last chemo and I would say my new growth is about 3″ long. That mixed with a thin, chin length bob means I’m always feeling self conscious about my hair…crazy when you think what we’ve been through.

    Stay strong lovely.

    Oh and I love the shorter wig. Oh and as a season wig wearer, you really can’t tell! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and for your kind comments Leah 🙂 I so know what you mean about watching those ads – it’s torture isn’t it?!
      That’s great you managed to keep a lot of your hair. I still a little hair left – it’s so thin though, I look like a 90-year old! I’ve been wondering how that works with the regrowth as there’ll be longer hairs combined with new ones sprouting out?! Xx

      Like

      1. I yes, forgot to mention – the new hair looks like it’ll be quite curly. So that’s multi length hair, mostly straight new growth curly, thin, fine and flyaway…having to use vegetable dye to deal with the grey (had that before diagnosis though).
        I’ve been using nioxin shampoo, conditioner and leave in treatment to speed up growth. Apparently Kylie used it, if it’s good enough for her…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do you tie your hair back or does it work as is having multi length hair? Not heard of Nioxin (someone recommended Fast shampoo & conditioner) is it any good? xx

        Like

  2. Allie, as ever your reflections and writing help us step into your experiences and thoughts. Hair and appearance are so linked to self-esteem and self-confidence so it’s no wonder that anything that affects them can dent our levels and make us self conscious. Having seen you this week I can only say that you looked fab and I think you were wearing “Doris” 😉 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey sweet friend, I’ve been thinking of you and wondering how you are doing.

    About the hair, this wasn’t a big hit for me but I understand why it would affect us. For instance, I didn’t want to go outside without my wig, because I did not want the attention. It has always bothered me when people see “cancer” before seeing me, if that makes sense. I was prepared to lose my hair though and shaved my head because I couldn’t stand the itch and seeing hair all over the place. But you are right, the “no hair” experience is a representation of being sick and that’s when I realized I had cancer. Weird how my tumor never hurt and I felt so normal, then suddenly I was attacking it in some many ways, but still didn’t feel the cancer. At times I felt I was fighting a ghost.

    About your wigs, you look beautiful in both but if I have to pick one for you, I go with #2. But the first looks more natural. Both look great on you. You can name them Dyna and Mita (Dynamite). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey you, thanks for dropping by and reading my post. I can definitely see what you mean about not to have wanted people to see the cancer before they see you – we want to be seen as normal as possible. Yes, I think back now to how much I’ve changed physically in just a few months – looking forward to 2016 bringing a bit more of the old me back! That’s so sweet of you to say ref. the wigs – some people prefer me in no.1 and others prefer no.2 – I’m blessed to be able to have the choice to be honest, I know I’m very lucky in that respect 🙂
      Hahaha.. love the names Rebe!! 😉 Do hope you’re doing okay, lots of love xx

      Like

  4. Hey How are things going? I can completely relate to this blog as you know as we spoke about it when on my blog about loosing my hair. I also was so paranoid initially with my wigs I would think people where looking at me because they new it was a wig! Everyone told me they didn’t but still doesn’t help the paranoia! I love your shorter as well looks so pretty. Sorry your now at the crappy hair stage but once treatment finishes it does come back quicker than you think! I currently have an out of control curly short pixie! Had some kind of quiff going on yesterday!!!! I had no control!!!! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jo, thanks so much for your message, lovely to hear from you. I guess I’m at the stage where I just wish it would all be over, but just need to keep pushing on that bit more. It’s hard when you hit the sad days too as they just pull you down, but I’ll get there!
      I’m so pleased your hair has grown back quicker than you thought, that’s really encouraging! 🙂 Can’t wait for the day to leave home in my hair and feel ok about it!
      Has yours come back the same colour?
      Take care xxx

      Like

      1. I remember that stage very well, how much longer do you have of treatment? You will get there and you just need to keep positive and keep smiling as hard as it is some days. Try to arrange little treats and trips out for yourself that always pulled me up when I was having a rubbish day, make sure you have things to look forward to!
        It’s actually come back darker thicker and curly!!! Apparently the curl is common and drops out once it gets a bit longer though. You will have hair before you know it and just think we can try every hairstyle now to see what suits us! Before I would never have had the guts to get a pixie!!! Look after yourself xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I had no.5 (of 6) last Tues so the finish line for this bit is in sight now. Yes would definitely be good to do something to celebrate getting to the end of all this, hopefully can get away with my hubby x
        Wow, dark, thick and curly! I’ll take all of those 😉 I like your way of looking at it Jo – I’d never have cut my hair off before! Big love xx

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s