Saturday, 15 July 2017

Hair today, gone tomorrow ...

While by no means all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, chemo for primary breast cancer usually includes those that do. It is something that many people find difficult and it is perhaps the most obvious outward sign that you are having treatment.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Having my long-for-30-years hair cut short was quite a shock to the system, but the very positive reaction I received to the new, if highly temporary, look was a pleasant surprise. Especially as it seemed absolutely genuine rather than because people were trying to be encouraging. Indeed, many people who commented didn't know the reason why I had had it cut. So for a week or so I enjoyed my new look, until the look started changing on a daily basis as more and more hair falls out.

Apart from the nuisance value, I began to consider how other people might perceive me if it was obvious that I was having chemotherapy. At that point I began to get concerned that the promised wig appointment had not materialized, in spite of following up. Chatter in the chemo unit showed similar concerns were common. For almost all of us, it wasn't the regular contact with family, close friends and colleagues that was the issue. Almost everyone was okay with scarves, hats or nothing for that. What was a common cause for concern was attending big social events or business meetings at which ones status as a chemo patient became obvious. I realised that, at least for me, it was about not wanting to be defined by what is happening to me. Not wanting to have people make assumptions about what I can and can't do professionally based on appearance.

So not a moment too soon, I finally had my wig fitting appointment. Some looked awful and some looked very odd indeed but eventually, with a helpful second opinion from a friend who took quick photos of me in the eventual shortlist of two, I found something I think I can live with. 

How much I wear it will remain to be seen and, following conversations with a couple of friends, I am considering getting another one in a different style as an alternative. However, simply having it to hand has made me feel more comfortable with the fact of hair loss.


  1. Elizabeth, I've only just caught on that this is happening to you. I'm so sorry. We have never met, but we went through the post cancer journey together and my heart goes out to you that you are having to deal with this all over again. I'm glad that you have found a wig that works. The one that I bought home from the hospital got the comment from my teenage daughter:" I hope you are not going to wear that rodent on your head....." so that went straight into their school's acting cupboard. I ended up with a wig from Will's Wigs near Bromsgrove, to which I drove the 60 odd miles to from my then home in Northamptonshire. I justified the expense on the basis that the haircuts I was missing out on would pay for the luxurious French wig I bought from them. Best decision of my cancer journey. Most of my friends just thought I had had my hair done.......until I naughtily lifted it to show my bald head underneath. Can't recommend them enough -

    1. Thank you, Natalie. Yes, I remember when we met online and it is always good to catch up with you via fb. I'll check out the Bromsgrove place. Definitely justifiable! E

  2. Hi Eliza, I too found the hair loss hard, not for myself but for other people and as you say being defined by the fact I was obviously a chemo patient. I just could not get on with a wig and so stuck with scarves - hope you can get on with your wig and definitely like Natalie's idea to treat yourself. Di ( aka Storm Rider Bilbo )