Although I have not personally experienced losing my hair, I have three remarkable women in my life that have. These three women are all in different stages of their survival. My grandmother – a four time breast cancer survivor – lost her hair with chemotherapy in 1991. My mother – a three time cancer survivor – last lost her hair with her breast cancer occurrences in 1990 and 2005. My sister – recently recovering from her breast cancer – lost her hair just last year. All three of these women took a similar approach to their hair loss, but each had their own mental struggles.
My grandmother is no stranger to breast cancer and the numerous side effects it has on one’s body. However, she only had chemotherapy once with her inflammatory breast cancer. Losing her hair was a major event for her which often times left her in tears. My mom offered to cut Grandma’s hair since Mom already knew the effects chemotherapy would have. Mom suggested it might make her feel better. It certainly made her feel a little better, but Grandma never really appreciated her beauty while being bald. Any time she left her house, she always had a wig on; she wanted to feel as normal as possible.
My mom experienced chemotherapy twice, each time losing her hair. Losing her hair “was painful,” she said. It was painful falling out, both mentally and physically. It tingled. It hurt. Both times. Mom said when her hair fell out in clumps while she was taking a shower she knew it was time to take matters into her own hands. She headed to her aunt’s salon for a trim. She often wore wigs, just like Grandma. However, she wore it more for her elementary school students. She really did not want to scare them, or be the reason kids are asking questions at home. No matter how uncomfortable those wigs were or how hot her head became, she stuck to her wig for the students.
My sister had different feelings about losing her hair, quite possibly because she had personal knowledge from the previous two generations. It was different seeing herself bald, but she didn’t find it as difficult as she thought it would be. Her hair stayed in almost to her second treatment. When it started coming out more frequently, she decided to get it shaved and headed to her stylist. Wigs scared my sister – in reality, it was just a personal preference. She often wore hats and scarves, embracing her beautiful baldness.
All three women took losing their hair into their own hands. They took the step to cut or shave their hair before every last strand feel out. Whether it’s hair in the shower, on your brush, or coming out in clumps while you run your fingers through your hair, it can easily take a toll on one’s mental state. Jump starting the process on your own timeline may help ease that pain of losing your hair.
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