The moment your doctor tells you that you have cancer is a moment that will change your life forever – from that instant forward, life as you know it is different. As hard as it is to deal with the initial diagnosis, for most women, learning that they will face chemotherapy (which is almost always synonymous with hair loss), is equally frightening. Until the moment when you face chemo, “the world” may not know that you are sick. And if the people closest to you know, they may not know the extent of your illness. With hair loss, you no longer have the luxury of choosing who to tell about it or when you feel strong enough to let people other than your family and closest friends know about it.
Hair is one thing that defines us. Whether we are blond, brunette, redhead or any shade in between, our hair speaks to our personality and our self confidence. Bad hair days can really make for bad days overall! Losing it to something we have no control over, such as chemo, may make you feel like you’re losing a part of yourself. Mourning the loss of something that’s so much a part of you is not only okay, it’s appropriate and entirely natural.
Take Control Over Your Hair Loss
If you’re anxious about losing your hair, don’t feel as though you have to wait to shave your head. Ask your husband, your best friend, or your favorite hair stylist to shave your head. By deciding to cut your head on your own, you’re putting yourself in control of something you otherwise wouldn’t be able to control. If you have very long hair, consider donating the hair you cut off to an organization that makes wigs out of human hair.
Don’t be surprised if some of your family members or closest friends decide to shave their heads with you to show their solidarity. If the people closest to you suggest that they join you, plan a party where everyone gets together for a head shaving ceremony. And even if they don’t shave their head, it’s still an opportunity to throw a party and make the most of a challenging situation.
Recreate Your Sense of Style
Don’t forget that you’ll need to protect your bald head from cold weather, sunburn, and the conditions inside your treatment center and other places you go. Wear caps, beanies, bandanas, scarves or head turbans that show your support for cancer. Wear different color head covers to coordinate them with your clothes. It’s also a great time to try out some new fashion forward scarves, caps and earrings!
If you’ve always wanted to have a crazy hairstyle like a purple Mohawk, or a pink shag, buy an outrageous wig that fulfills that fantasy. Imagine the looks you’ll get when people see you in a purple Mohawk or a pink shag, a style that hasn’t been popular for over 30 years.
Nonprofit organizations are making human hair wigs, and cancer centers are working with these agencies to make it possible for chemotherapy patients to afford to buy these wigs or get one for free. Choose a hair color that’s nothing like your natural hair color. Choose a wildly different hairstyle. Since you don’t have (or won’t have) any hair anyway, why not choose a wig that bears no resemblance to your real hair. Remember, this is only temporary, and your hair will start to grow when your treatments stop.
The people who love and care about you most understand that this is a difficult time in your life. Don’t be afraid to share your fears, anxieties, sadness or hopes. Regardless of the type of cancer you have, you should always remember that No One Fights Alone®.