Hair, Chemo and Me
Published: 09 Dec 2016
We asked a group of people who have undergone chemotherapy treatment why keeping their hair throughout treatment was so important to them.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and told I would be receiving chemotherapy, my heart sunk. My first question to my Oncologist was “will I lose my hair?” His answer was yes, my heart broke. My first reaction was “I’m not doing it”. Then reality set in. I want to live and I have to have chemo but I want to keep my hair.”
“I didn’t advertise my illness and having chemo to every stranger who saw me. I felt proactive in taking care of myself. And even in the worst days of my chemo treatment I could look at my reflection and see me. Among all the other painful, humiliating, powerless moments during treatment, I didn’t have to heap hair loss on top of everything else. I have come to see hair loss as primitive, backward and cruel. I respect the people who have lost their hair and do think they have courage. I also think that selectively treating some side effects and not others, like hair loss, is a punishment to patients.”
“The day I found out that I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It truly was the worst day of my life. I was young and healthy and the last words that I ever thought I would hear is that I had cancer. I knew that soon enough I would be told that in order to live I would have to have chemotherapy. My first thought was that I cannot fight this cancer without my hair. I cannot lose my identity and not be me. To me, this was not about vanity. It was about not letting cancer win out and taking something else from me. I was determined not to let that be the case.
“As a young prostate cancer patient, the thought of losing my hair was devastating. In fact, I had already had hair restoration over 10 years-ago because of hair loss. Moreover, I felt that if I could look as normal as possible during chemo that I would do better overall, and would be less likely to get depressed.”
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer January of 2014. Our world as we knew it was about to change. I knew I would need chemotherapy as my cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. Complete hair loss, which is associated with chemo was something I was dreading. I didn’t want people looking at me and feeling sorry for me that I had cancer. I wanted to go to the grocery store or out for dinner and feel as normal as possible.”
“Cancer was my secret. We caught it early, I had a lumpectomy, and then it was life back to normal. But, then I was told I needed chemo and my first thought was that my hair was going to fall out and everyone would know, from my clients to my friends and my kids. Yes, it’s about aesthetics, but more importantly it’s about self-perception. I had cancer, I was not my cancer and keeping my hair was a huge part of that belief system. It’s not just about keeping your hair, it’s about keeping your secret and keeping your life as your life.”
“It was bad enough to lose my breasts, but losing my hair…well, I felt this would send me over the cliff. Thank God, I didn’t lose my hair!”