Issie: Hair Loss                                                          

Hair Loss

One of the most talked about aspects of cancer, in my opinion, is hair loss.  Maybe this is because I am a woman, I am not sure.  But from the minute I was diagnosed and knew that I would be getting chemotherapy, I was also told that I would loose my hair.  At the time, I had lovely long dark curly hair.  Obviously, if the treatment is going to save your life, you do not care about a temporary hair loss.  However, it can still be quite traumatic when it happens.

My long hair in June, 2011, before I was diagnosed.

What I found strange was that while I knew that I would also loose all of the hair on my head, I did not realise for a while that I would also loose my eyebrows, my eyelashes, and the rest of the hair all over my body.  The one perk was that I did not have to shave my legs for months.  The downside was that I was very cold throughout those winter months!

I was very organised for loosing the hair on my head.  I was told that 2 weeks after my first chemotherapy, my hair would start to fall out.  So I went to the Wig Clinic in Cork before my chemotherapy began and made an appointment to try on the wigs.  I had a great time there and it really was good fun.  I had to make the most of this situation and I choose to laugh rather than cry.  The staff were amazing and it really was a good experience.  I could not decide on which wig to get so I ended up getting my 2 favourite ones, one in a short, straight bob style and the other a long, gorgeous brunette style.  I was thrilled with myself.

Sure enough, 2 weeks after my first chemotherapy treatment, my hair started to fall out in clumps.  It was a bit surreal when it happened.  Yes I knew that it was going to happen but I was still sad when it did.  I am, after all only human.  I rang the Wig Clinic and told them what was happening.  I made an appointment to go up that week to get my hair shaved off and collect my wigs.

I was very focused and brave going in that day.  I knew what was going to happen.  Dave drove me up.  I was nervous but I had to accept the situation.  The stylist was very sympathetic and professional.  I made light of the situation to her but inside I was gutted to be loosing my beautiful hair.  And so it began, off came all of my precious hair.  My vanity went out the window that day.  I thought of how many others had gone through this.  I was open and strong about it and I was glad that it was happening to me and not someone else who might be weaker and not able to handle it.  I thanked God that it was me and not my Mother or children or anyone else in the family.  I felt that I was the one best able to deal with it.

When I saw all of my hair on the ground, I tried hard not to cry.  My eyes welled up but I would not let myself cry.  I did not shed a tear.  My eyes were watery as I looked at myself in the mirror.  I had to accept it.  This was my journey and I had to toughen up.  Any tears that were to be shed, I would do at home, privately and alone.

This is when I got my hair shaved off in October, 2011 in the Wig Clinic in Cork.

The lady showed me how to fit the wigs properly and how to take care of them.  She fitted the long one onto my bare head and I walked out of there with my head held high, proud to be alive.  I walked up to Dave and said "What do you think?" and he said that he could hardly tell the difference.  I was delighted.  We went for something to eat and no one batted an eyelid at me.  Nobody noticed.

As time went on, I tended to only wear little caps on my head.  They kept me warm and around at home, nobody took any notice of me.  I used to only wear the wigs going out or for occasions.  I got used to the situation and got on with life.

In December, 2011 wearing a cap to cover my bald head.

The months rolled on and in March, 2012, I finished my chemotherapy.  My hair slowly started to grow back.  It was very fluffy and baby like.  But I was thrilled to see something on my head.  I was proud as punch.  I thought that I had loads of hair when in reality I only had a tiny bit.

In May, 2012 as my hair started to grow back.

I quickly started leaving my head out without either a wig or a cap.  I really was delighted.  My hair grew back slowly but steadily.  It was difficult as times as I had never had short hair and I just wanted my old hair back.  It went through that stage where I felt that I could not do anything with it.  However, I had to just stick with it and let it grow.

Here I am with Josh in Spain in August, 2012 as my hair grew back.

Now my hair is fully back.  It is long and curly again.  Bad hair days are a thing of the past because I am so dam happy to have my hair back I will never say that I am having a bad hair day again!  I appreciate it and I do not complain about it.  Yes, I had difficult days, the hardest probably being the day that I had to get my hair shaved off.  Overall though, it was not too bad.  It was a good dose of reality for me.  It was not the end of the world and it surely made me appreciate everything that I now have.  To anyone else who may be hairless at the moment due to chemotherapy, you can look forward to the day that your lovely hair will grow back.  This is just a temporary glitch in your long and happy life.  xxx  :-)

At a Chinese restaurant in February, 2012 wearing my favourite long wig.

At a concert in Cork in June, 2012 wearing my short bob wig.  

Out with the family in June, 2012 wearing my long wig.

With Tom in Spain in August, 2012 wearing my short bob wig.