Dancer and actress Angela Trimbur is no stranger to changing her hair for roles on shows such as “The Good Place” and “NCIS,” but she’s doing something new and much braver since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. With the help of some hairstylist friends, the 37-year-old is trying out every single hairstyle she’s ever wanted to experiment with but felt too nervous to do so—and sharing the entire experience on Instagram.
After a double mastectomy, Trimbur was hit hard by the realization that this was all real and that the next stop, chemo, would be another difficult one for her self-image. She thought about utilizing a cold cap in an attempt to keep her hair, but she knew it was likely to be painful and might not work. It just didn’t seem like the right thing for her, so she opted to make the most of her hair while she still had it (although she’s still working on keeping her eyebrows by using a special cold mask).
It was Trimbur’s desire to salvage her eggs before undergoing chemo so that she might be able to have children someday. That process takes some time, so chemotherapy would have to wait for a bit. And in the interim, Trimbur decided to distract herself with some fun cuts and colors she’s never tried before.
Trimbur’s hair has stayed more or less the same for the last six years, as she wanted to keep it healthy and make it versatile for potential future television roles.
“I’ve just been wanting to focus on growing my hair out and keeping it healthy and shiny and maintaining a long length,” she said. “As an actor, I felt that it was the best look for all roles I’d play and sort of felt restricted in a sense — albeit, self-inflicted restrictions.”
But when she got her diagnosis, Trimbur realized she was free of all those restrictions, as she’d soon be losing her hair anyway, whether she liked it or not. She planned out all her styles ahead of time, ordering them from longest to shortest, brought her plans to a hairstylist, Sal Salcedo of Nova Arts Salon, and a hair colorist, Bianca Hillier of Andy Lecompte Salon, for help making her idea a reality.
“They’ve been extremely kind, and I’m so honored that such a talented top colorist and stylist felt invested in helping me with their time,” she said. “These looks were important for me to be done right, as if I was truly doing this for keeps, so that I could live with each look for a while in an invigorating way and stand a bit taller, versus holding the hourglass on my shoulders just waiting for that daunting shave.”
At the beginning of this process, Trimbur’s hair was a long dark brown. She tried a permed style first, then highlighted it to a sandier brown. Then she tried a shoulder-length crop dyed to a dirty blond, then platinum blond, then icy blue. The next cut was a “blunt sharp sci-fi short bob,” followed by a pixie cut. The “last stop” was a tightly cropped style before a full-on shave and a platinum-blond dye to make it less noticeable when the hair began to fall out.
“To my surprise, my favorite was the platinum blond blunt bob,” Trimbur said. “I would have never tried that before and do hope to return to it in the future.”
Trimbur was initially worried she might run across a style she wanted to keep and not be able to, but she said she was excited to be able to “bookmark” certain styles for later on. It’s also helpful to have a running list of hairstyles she likes at all lengths to help her have a plan for when her hair grows back.
“Taking my haircuts sort of backward to what the grow-out process will be like has eased my fear of the unknown,” she said. “I know that I actually really like the pixie — Who knew!? — and the way I want to shape it out when it starts to grow even more gives me a goal versus an in-the-moment scramble.”
It’s been a long emotional journey for Trimbur in a relatively short period of time. Now, after going through a few rounds of chemo, her hair has fallen out, leaving her completely bald, but she’s still rocking the look with everything she’s got. And now she has a fabulous set of Instagram photos and videos that chronicle the process for her.
“When I look back at photos of my journey, I can bookmark the chapters of cancer and where I was at with it all through which hair look I had at the time,” she said.
We’re rooting for you, Angela. You’ve already inspired so many of your followers! Hang in there and keep doing amazing things!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?