Only a Hair Away

Pink wigHow can I prepare to lose my hair?

The loss of hair causes a loss of insulation to the scalp. This can make you feel cold even on the warmest of days. Here then are some tips on how to prepare physically:

Collect a selection of hats, caps, turbans or even several wigs before you start treatment. Wigs tend to be scratchy, so have other options available.

Get one or more turbans. These are especially useful to wear at night. It keeps your scalp warm, and will also collect any hair that comes out while you’re sleeping. I wore one every night until I knew for sure my hair was there to stay.

Decide before buying a wig what you really want. Do you want to match you own hair as near as possible? That is the way I went. A friend, however, took the attitude of “I’ve always wanted to be a blonde so this is my chance.” She got herself a couple of different wigs and wore them with aplomb, enjoying the feedback she received from her surprised friends.

Ask your hair-stylist to sort the wig out for you beforehand. Ask her to cut it on your head, so that she can see what it looks like and make sure the style and color is right for you.

Ask your oncologist or specialist if you are likely to lose your hair, then prepare well—and remember, it is transient. Life is worth the effort.

For many people, the thought of losing their hair is a huge issue. It was for me. I never thought of myself as vain. I am usually pretty relaxed over my appearance. But when it came to losing my hair, I felt as if I was being asked to go naked in public. Men normally accept the challenge with resignation and prepare to go bald for a period. But for ladies it’s usually a bigger deal. I have the greatest admiration for those who accept it philosophically and decide not to try and hide their baldness. Whenever I see a lady in public with her head bald I feel nothing but respect for her. I know that she has accepted her situation and resolved to hold her head up high. After all, cancer is not something to be ashamed of. Recently I saw a lady with a butterfly tattooed on the back of her skull! That’s freedom of expression alright! As we’ve seen when looking at the cancer roller coaster, the person on treatment is likely to already be battling with unstable emotions. The loss of hair certainly doesn’t help this problem. It may trigger feelings that range from anger to acute depression or even self-pity. Some people feel embarrassed and self-conscious about going out in public. Others may fear rejection by their loved ones. Here are some tips to help cope emotionally with hair loss. Speak to those closest to you before it happens, and explain how you feel. Try to enlist their support in the venture that lies ahead.

  • Discuss your feelings with a support group or counselor if possible, or seek out Reach for Recovery or a similar organization and ask to speak to someone who has been there, done that.
  • Divert attention away from your hair by wearing jewelry or changing your makeup.
  • Wear bright colors. A friend of mine who walked this journey frequently wore red. Now the cancer is behind her, she still wears predominantly red clothes. It’s become one of her trademarks.
  • Look for ways to create a laugh. I’ve mentioned the lady with the tattooed head. You can always use a temporary tattoo which will wash off.
  • Read books and watch videos where the person has to cope with hair loss. See how they manage, and decide whether to do the same, or if you’d rather learn from their mistakes.
  • See hair loss as a positive sign that your chemo is working. If the chemo is killing the cells in your hair follicles, they are surely destroying the cancer cells too.
  • Prepare to lose your eyebrow hair as well. You can resort to eyebrow makeup, or you can get them stained on by a makeup artist.

What about you? Have you lost your hair? What helped you cope? Please leave a comment below. Or are you heading that way? In which case, hold your head up high, whether it has hair on it or not. Be proud of your status as a survivor! 

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