No More Bad Hair Days

Losing my hair was an inevitable part of my treatment. It was a horrible feeling but I knew it was something I would eventually have to face. I wanted to buy a wig before my hair started falling out so that I didn’t feel self conscious about going out bald and having people look at me like I was “sick”. I found out I had coverage through my extended health benefits plan to purchase a wig so I went out shopping to find something that I would be comfortable wearing. There are so many wigs to choose from nowadays depending on the style, colour, length, and thickness and whether you want real or synthetic hair. The good thing about a real hair wig is that it can be styled just like normal hair would but they can also be very expensive. The synthetic wigs are cheaper and generally are not heat proof; however, they have come a long way and now offer some heat protective ones. Going in I thought I would try a different hairstyle while I had the opportunity, but once I started trying a few on, I realized I didn’t feel comfortable going too outside the box because it would be so obvious that it wasn’t my own hair. The wig I decided on was a bit thicker and lighter in colour than my own hair but about the same length.

My hair had been holding strong through the first cycle of chemo, but going into the second round I noticed I was shedding a bit more than usual. The following day after chemo #2, I went to brush my hair and a lot of it was now starting to come out in my brush. Not just 5 or 6 strands like usual, but 20-30 strands. I knew this day would come but it was hard to know when to make the decision to get rid of it. Do I wait and let more fall out or will that just be more devastating? I looked on some forums online to see what others had done but it all came down to personal choice and what I was most comfortable with. Some felt better cutting their hair short first, while others took the plunge and buzzed it off all at once. I decided I would wait until the next day to see if the hair loss was getting any worse.

I continued to shed the next day and was worried that if I left it too long, I may wake up the next day with a big bald patch on my head. I was still struggling with making a decision on when to finally shave it so I decided to take a shower and see how strong my hair was holding up afterwards. When I took one stroke of the brush through my hair, it came back full. I knew at that point it was time. The owner of the shop where I purchased my wig had offered to shave my head when the time came so I gave her a call. We arranged for me to come in later around closing time so that we could have some privacy and I brought my friend with me for support. I didn’t know how I was going to react through it all, but I was so nervous leading up to going in.

My hair was put into a bunch of little pig tails to cut off first as it was easier than trying to get the buzzer through the whole thing at once. It felt better doing it that way too as I got to see what my hair looked like short before going all the way which wasn’t as shocking and gave me an idea of what it would look like growing back. Once the pigtails were gone, it was time to shave the rest off. I don’t know that I was ever “ready” to shave my head but I knew it was something that I needed to face eventually. I managed to hold it together and at the end was surprised how empowered I felt. It was freeing in a way to not have any hair. I had no idea what I was going to look like without any hair but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Looking back, I’m so glad that I made the personal choice to get my head shaved rather than the chemo taking that choice away. I think I would have been more devastated had I waited and let my hair fall away in pieces in front of me.

I left the store that evening with my wig on and went back home to show my husband. He couldn’t bring himself to watch me get my head shaved as this whole diagnosis had been really hard on him so far. When I did the big reveal later on and took off my wig, he was incredibly supportive and told me how beautiful I was. We had a bit of a laugh too because we now looked like twins with matching bald heads. No hair products needed in this house! The next day, I went for lunch with a friend and wore my wig for the first time out in public. It felt a bit awkward and I struggled with whether to wear one or not. Part of me wanted to just rip the wig off and say this is me…take it or leave it! But I wasn’t at that point yet where I felt comfortable enough to do so. When I went for lunch with my sister the following day though, I decided spur of the moment that I didn’t need to hide behind the wig. It was a big step for me and to be honest, felt really uncomfortable at first, but once I got out I found myself gaining more confidence. I was worried that people would stare but they didn’t really bat much of an eye at it. That is until I did the full monty and shaved my head completely bald a couple weeks later….

The little hairs left on my head had been falling out and my pillowcase and everything my head touched was covered in them. The lady who shaved my head had recommended that I go to a barber shop and get a straight razor cut once the time had come. I had never imagined getting a straight razor cut before and the barber had never shaved a woman’s head before so it was an experience for both of us. It was pretty cool to get my head pampered in a way with the hot towels and everything. It’s a little nerve wracking having a straight razor blade run across your head but he did a fantastic job and got rid of every last little hair. My head looked so white though once he was done as it had never seen the light of day all these years. When I went to pick up my prescriptions later at the pharmacy, I started noticing all the stares. It’s one thing to shave your head, but another to have absolutely nothing there anymore and even more so as a woman. My confidence wavered and it took some time to regain it back, but once I did, I owned it. Besides, I was still me. My hair was a part of my style, my personality, but I’m still the same person no matter what. Just stronger and more confident than I’ve ever been.

My hair doesn’t define me. My strength does. 

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