The Challenge of Being Follicle-y Challenged

I remember the moment when I was told that I was HER2 +.  It was weeks after my initial "You've Got Cancer" discussion, and I was in the produce aisle of Sam's Club trying to decide if it was worth it to buy a 6 pack of baby cucumbers- would I, or would I not eat them all before they went mushy?  Probably not the ideal location to get more bad news, or really any kind of important news.  I remember asking, so exactly what does that mean in terms of my treatment, and the kind of chemo that I will be getting?   I had to feel for my surgeons assistant (whom I love dearly, not only because she's the most helpful person in the world, but because she's a sweetheart and I always smile after talking to her).  I know she was seriously tired of delivering horrible news to this smiling, bouncy little blonde- I know this because she told me.

Of course the HER 2+ definitely meant something, it meant that I would need a different kind of chemo than what was originally planned, my treatment schedule after surgery would be longer, and (don't they always save the best for last) my hair was going to fall out.  Wait... Hold up!  Not my hair?  All I could focus on, was the hair.  So, in the middle of Sam's Club, I'm sobbing like a baby.  Not only do I have cancer, but now I'm going to be a bald girl too?  Prior to all of this cancer business, I never carried kleenex in my purse- I just wasn't the kind of person who could break down sobbing at the drop of a hat... so much for that!

 Unlike the relationship with my breasts, my hair and I had a very good relationship.  I was blessed with a very full head of super thick hair.  Hair that pretty much did whatever I would ask of it.  Hair that took color and highlights, held curl when I wanted it to, and stayed straight when I demanded straightness from it.  Of course, I had bad hair days, usually when I had failed to make time in my busy schedule to run to the salon for the necessary hair pampering, so I never held that against my hair.  It was the kind of hair that on a day when I was feeling just a tad blah- it would pick me up, flowing effortlessly over my shoulders, bouncy in all the right places.

I had spent years growing my hair in from a super short cut that was a result of a bad decision- I was left with no other option but to chop it all off! (A perm- what was I thinking? It was a disaster of epic proportions- it was huge- I looked like a disco queen).  It took years, and it was rather painful, all of those super awkward stages, the moments when I thought this is ridiculous, I should just go back to my short hair.  But, I hung in there, and I was finally there, and to make it all even better, I had found the perfect stylist.  She understood my hair, and even more importantly understood that my hubby preferred my hair "super blonde".  For the last 2 years, I have been the owner of perfectly highlighted, perfectly cut blonde hair.

And then there was all of this cancer business... Cancer treatments were going to make my beautiful blonde hair fall out.  As a person who likes to take charge, I wanted to take charge of this situation as well.  I knew that loosing my hair was going to be traumatic, and I thought that if I cut it into a shorter cut before it started falling out, that it would somehow be easier on me.

Looking back on the situation, I'm glad I cut it, because the falling out process was ugly and would have been uglier with my long locks.  At least I had a bit of an adjustment period, although I'm not sure there is anything that can prepare a woman for being bald...

I had certain expectations of the hair falling out process, I thought it would go gradually, a hair there, a hair here.  What I did not anticipate was to be standing in the shower and pulling my hand away from my head with a full hand of hair- exactly 14 days after my first chemo treatment.  AAGH, What the hell is going on here?!  My reaction was probably quite comical- after all I knew that I was going to loose my hair, so why did I stand there for 5 minutes looking quizzically at the huge clumps of hair stuck on my fingers?  Why was my mind racing with the thought "What is going on?".

24 hours after my confusing incident in the shower, I marched into Wal-Mart, and marched back out with clippers- I was empowered and taking charge of the situation. There was no way that I was taking this hair loss process lying down...  If chemo wanted to play a game, I'd play right back... I'd whack it all off!  Then what was it going to do- whose follicles are you going to mess with now chemo?  Funny how much better I felt after my head had been shaved.  The process of my hair releasing had actually been painful, and now there was nothing left!

Fast forward 3 months and 5 chemo treatments... I miss my hair.  I miss my hair a lot.  Without my hair, I am reminded every time I look in the mirror that I have cancer.   Thankfully, it is starting to grow back.  I've got a funny little patch of fuzz on top of my head, I look a bit like a mad scientist, but it's hair, it's fuzzy and funny looking, but it's hair.  And you had better bet your last dollar that my hair regrowing ritual is going to be a serious one... I am a woman with a goal... the goal is to have enough hair by the 2nd week of August that I can get hair extensions in time for my 40th birthday.  I want to be cancer free (not hair free) on my 40th birthday...



3 comments

  1. My Great-niece Hayley had her head shaved to make a wig for a breast cancer patient. She also participates in the Cancer Walk and helped raise $30000.00 for The Cancer Society with her school mates. I am so proud of her. I wish you could have gotten her very blond, wavy locks in a wig.

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  2. That is absolutely beautiful that Hayley has participated this way! I would have loved to have been the recipient of her beautiful, blond, wavy locks. :)

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  3. Ah... follicles.
    Some of us take them for granted.

    Marianne, the 2nd week of August will be all about your birthday and your hair - we will be here to witness all of it :)

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