Coping with chemotherapy induced hair loss

As you would expect being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer can be quite shocking. The whirlwind of testing, appointments and decisions for treatment don’t leave much time to focus on much else. With my diagnosis, chemotherapy was the first step in treatment of my Triple Negative Stage 3 Breast Cancer.  I had just about settled into the weekly chemo infusions when the next part of the trauma began. I hadn’t really noticed much hair loss until one day after my shower it literally started detaching from my scalp. Trying to comb it was impossible, the more I touched it the worse it got. I finally shoved what was left of my knotted, wet, shoulder length hair under a baseball cap and cried my eyes out. I knew it was coming however, until it happens it’s hard to anticipate the trauma that follows. My boyfriend bravely shaved my head while he chanted powerful words of encouragement which pushed us both through the upsetment of the task. I had always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. Having a combination of my fathers straight hair and my mothers curls left me with hard to manage year-round frizz. I vowed to never complain about my hair again. I never realized my hair was such a part of my identity until I lost it.  I now had a new look, it was the “cancer” look and I didn’t like it,  I didn’t like it at all! People saw me differently and there was no hiding my diagnosis. I avoided mirrors and getting photographed, this was not how I saw myself and I certainly didn’t want to remember the humility of losing all of my hair. I kept pictures of myself before my diagnosis handy to show any new people I met what I “really” looked like. Looking back it hurts my heart to remember struggling though this part of my journey. My scalp became very sensitive and I had to keep it covered all of the time. Even in the shower I would put a washcloth on top of my head to keep from feeling the water beating against my baldness.  I mostly wore baseball hats which I felt gave me a more “normal”  appearance. I wore a soft beanie to bed. Even when battling through relentless night sweats, somehow my head was still cold and hypersensitive. After I completed 6 months of treatment my hair began growing back pretty quickly.  I believe every cloud has a silver lining, and to my surprise my hair has grown back straight and smooth.