Waiting to lose your hair is excruciating. Wondering when it will fall out, will it be gradual? Will it be in clumps? Will I cry? After my first chemo round I researched about hair loss on lots of cancer forums. I wanted to know when it would happen and how to deal with it.
Ladies waking to hair on their pillow, being embarrassed by hair on their jacket and waiting….waiting for the baldness.
Then there were those who took control and did the deed themselves. Rather than have cancer and chemo take their hair they decided to snatch back the power and shave it themselves. Total control!
At the first sign of scalp tingle (a sign hair is going to fall out) I woke up and told my husband ‘today was the day’, I needed to shave it off. I’m a hairdresser by trade so grabbing a set of clippers didn’t bother me but my husband sat up in bed, rubbed my arm and said he’d like to do it for me.
I know right!…did your chest just explode a little? Mine sure did at the time.
It was a Sunday morning so while the kids slept my mister and I headed outside to the back garden with the dog and a set of clippers. The sun was bright and the dog was busy chasing birds around the garden. I sat in the chair with a towel draped around my shoulders and bowed my head as my mister plugged in the clippers.
I’d already had cancer take my breast…now my hair.
The clippers buzzed and whirred as hubby busied himself trying to make it quick and painless but my hair was getting caught in the blades…snagging and pulling. Rightio, out with some scissors first then for a quick hack of the length then a buzz cut. Clumps fell at my feet, the dog was quizzical and sniffed the pile of hair. All I could hear was the clicking of the scissor blades and then the clippers as they went back and forth over my tender head.
When it was done I swept my hair into a pile a snapped a pic…dunno why, maybe because it would prove I once had hair.
Into the bathroom we headed to shave the rest off with a razor because who needs spiky bristles in the bed right. We started with warm flannels, shaving oil and a razor but geez it was rough and bloody hurt. The razor was catching on the bristly hairs and the process was slow so my mister changed out of his pyjamas, threw on some clothes and headed to the shops for supplies.
It was a Sunday morning so the local supermarket that traded at all hours with prices through the roof it was. When he returned he had 3 different types of razors, 2 bottles of shave foam (good quality stuff) and chocolate. Uh uh, chocolate…you can see why I married him right!
Ok, time to get this done so we filled the basin with warm water and I sat on the edge of the bath while he went about loading up the top of my head with shave foam…yes, it was like piping icing and he had fun with it.
But here’s the thing, while we giggled and made light of it, lurking in the air was cancer.
Neither of us could forget that cancer was in me, the reason I was sat on the side of the bath dripping in shave foam with white patches on my scalp was because of cancer.
I wasn’t shaving my head to raise funds, I was shaving it to be saved the indignity of patchy balding because of chemotherapy treatment.
It took more than an hour of shaving and rinsing, my mister lovingly dragging the razor then patting and rubbing…and then he was done.
We stood in front of the mirror, my mister had his arm draped around my shoulders and he gave me a squeeze and a smile. My eyes welled up, I wasn’t scared of what I saw. His eyes welled up and he told me I was beautiful and strong. I looked stripped back but didn’t feel ugly. Seeing my bald head was like an announcement to the world…hey…I’ve got cancer!
We wiped the tears, I headed to my bedroom to make a scarf from a tee (I’d seen it on utube) and returned with a colourful scarf. We snapped some pics and posted to facebook…it was the only time I ever wore a head covering during treatment. And that was that, that was how we spent a Sunday morning 6 days after my first round of chemo.
That was how we announced my bald head, via Facebook because I couldn’t stand the pity looks. The looks still came though, when people saw my bald head for the first time there was shock, curiosity and sadness. The looks and sad eyes were hard to take.
When your hair is gone and chemo forces you into menopause you get freakin hot! The hair acts as a cooling system but without it adding a scarf or a wig is like a furnace. Sheesh it wasn’t for me.
Half the time I forgot I was bald…except those times when people whipped their heads around so fast for a second look they might actually suffer whiplash…yeah…don’t do that because my kids would see that shit and it just reminded them how different their lives had become.
Being bald is disarming, it strips you bare…peels back your layers and leaves you exposed with nowhere to hide. I don’t know if men feel the same but I’m sure to some extent they do.
I chose to go bald and not cover up for a few reasons but the main one was convenience and comfort. I was happy for society to see my pink dome head because shit, that is what cancer looks like!
I understand why for some women they need to wear a wig, scarf or hat I totally get it. Personal choice is the ‘right choice’ and we all need to do what gives us comfort, gives us power and gets us through.
The first pic taken of my bald head, you can still see my glassy eyes…
That Sunday morning in the bathroom was bonding, it’s something we never ever imagined we’d be doing together and I’m so grateful it was my mister who was with me and he was so cool about it. As we finished the teenage sons woke and walked past the bathroom, no raised eyebrows just a ‘hi’ a chat and then “hey, you shaved your hair”. Omg, no shit Sherlock! It was a cool moment where the four of us found a way to laugh together for the first time since I was diagnosed.
Losing my hair was a big deal but it wasn’t, I was pretty cool with it actually. My eyes popped and I saved on hairdressing bills, total silver lining! Losing my lashes and brows?….now that’s another story!