When your hair starts falling out because of Chemo…how to keep laughing!

So today is the day the hair started to go.  I’ve expected it for 17 days now.  My hair hung on longer than most!  Stubborn just like me!  Let me tell you it is a weird feeling when you reach up, take a small tuft of hair between your fingers, give a gentle tug and it all comes out!   WOW, talk about a new and different experience!!    And your scalp starts hurting a few days before it falls.    I guess it doesn’t want to give the hair up either!

Please cut your hair really, really, really short before it starts to fall out.  I already posted about that experience.  That’s the day I cried.  That’s the day I lost my identity.  But, after you get over all of that trauma, this part then becomes relatively easy.  First of all, while I have my hair short, short, short, I can see gray roots.  Now that is DEFINITELY not my hair!  I’m not sure whose hair it is, but it isn’t mine!

Taking a shower after the hair starts falling is stressful.  I wasn’t sure what would happen.  Is the hair going to just wash off  my head?    Gingerly, I step under the water adjusting the shower head to the gentlest spray.   I put the smallest dab of shampoo on my fingers and hold it there afraid to put it on my hair.   I never even rubbed my hair.  Put a little shampoo on it and rinsed it right off.  It didn’t just fall out in big globs yet, but alot of it showed up on the drain.  Luckily, a friend who had been through chemo and hair loss told me to make sure to get a hair catcher in my shower or I would be calling a Plumber!

I’ve talked about my niece, the hair stylist.   Already, she wants me to shave my head.  I’m not ready yet.  I need a little more fallout!   So we joked about her toddler’s birthday party where the kids will play “Pin the Tale on the Donkey”.  I told her I could sit there and let the kids pull some hair out of my head to be the donkey’s tale.  Now, those kids would never forget that, and it would probably teach them a lesson not to pull Jessica’s or Jack’s hair!!

One thing I can honestly say, is from the day I got the cancer diagnosis I’ve worried and fretted over this day.  Trust me, it isn’t as bad as you think it will be because you’ve had time to prepare.  I’ve had my turbans, wigs, and scaves for a long time now.   Preparation for hair loss  really helps deal with the reality of it all.   So, if you are facing hair loss, cry when you have to, and then move on.  The hair will come back.  It is a renewable resource!  That gives me hope!

____________________________

In order to help women with hair loss during cancer and the lessons I’ve learned, I am now selling adorable chemo caps to bring beauty and hope at affordable prices.  I search high and low for lovely caps.  Please check them out – click on pictures!

Click for HelloCOURAGE
Click for HelloCOURAGE


One last thing, your scalp might really hurt while the hair is falling out.  My head would just ache.  I would have to rub my head.  Don’t be concerned.  I guess this is normal.  It goes away!

I just pray that unknown person’s gray hair doesn’t show up back on my head!   Update:  My hair started growing rather quickly after I ended all Chemo.  I had A/C and Taxol.  At 3.5 months after chemo, it is approximately 1 inch long and has thickened up considerably.  My hair came in first in the back, then the sides, and the top was last!  But it really all did fill in.  It is thicker than my previous hair, the texture is different, and my poker straight hair now has a wave.  ONE YEAR LATER:  My hair was back almost like before only my new hair is better than my old hair!  More body, thicker, and a little wavy!  Don’t despair!

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41 comments

  1. Robin Roberts said “I’m not about my hair”. And neither are you! Keep laughing and think of the savings……no shampoo, product, or coloring to cover up that other person’s gray!!
    Loving you through it,

    • I will be praying for you. Has yours started yet? Mine is falling pretty good right now!
      This is a tough journey, isn’t it? My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  2. What do you prefer wearing on your head? I may get them all too, scarves, turbans, and a wig. I think I have enough hats. I don’t start chemo until Feb. I am worried about the hair loss…

    • Hi Carina, I am sorry you have to go through this. It is a scarey road, but you can do it.
      You will find strength you didn’t know you had, and God’s grace pours in to help. I found some
      GREAT inexpensive turbans on ebay. An oncology nurse makes them and they are really nice to wear.
      I wear the turbans at home and to sleep in as they are very comfortable. They are only about $4.50 to $6.00 a piece. I am more comfortable wearing the wigs out in public. If I can be of any help, please let me know. ANYTHING I can do!! I will keep you in my prayers.

  3. Denise,
    I start AC on Jan 4th. I cut my very long hair yesterday and not I think I should just go to the barber up the street and ask for a #3 trim! II am having anxiety about loosing my hair and just want to start getting used to it before I start chemo. Am I crazy? I am not normally a vain person, but, after all the surgery and now I have short hair and knowing its going to fall out soon freaks me out!

  4. I’m 20 and have colon cancer and I previously took a chemo that did not cause me to lose my hair but the current one does. My head hurt last week and it started falling out a couple days ago and showers are now low on my priority list. I’m a male, but losing my hair is just as bad to me cause I’ve always had thick hair and never kept it super short. I just don’t wanna “look like a cancer patient” if that makes any sense at all? Why can’t all the hair below your neck fall out?

  5. Denise you are awesome. I laughed so hard at the pin the hair on the donkey alternative. Humour will always always help and that it what I am doing. I encourage all my friends and family to to laugh at and with me. You are fantastic.

  6. I’m glad I stumbled along your website post. I’m 27 and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, I’ve done the double mast with recon all the same time but I’ve only under gone one treatment, soon to be two this week so far and have 7 more to go the same as you AC& T. My hair is something I never really cared about losing it, its so fried from all the dying lol. But it made me smile and calm even more when I read what your wrote, too know that someone can power through this is another reason I keep smiling. Thank you again.

  7. I stumbled across your post tonight. I am a 32 year old male going through EP chemo for testicular cancer, and this is the day I have been dreading for about 20 days now. I finally lost my hair tonight. I have had a beautiful head of hair since I was born and now it is all gone. I think this has been the hardest part for me, not the sickness, taste loss, or the constant ringing in my ears but the hair man, the hair. Your post cheered me up thank you Denise.

    • Hi Will, I saw your post right after mine. It will grow back in leaps and bounds. I finished my chemo oct 17 2013, crazy I wrote my post after my first one. It’s been three months and I already have an inch back, the downfall I now have to shave my legs. Will, your hair will grow back fast and more than likely thicker than ever. Keep your head up. Before you know it, you will be kicking some cancer ass and be cancer free. Good luck, Will. 🙂

  8. Hello. Can’t sleep because my hair hurt so much. Three weeks after my first chemo. Breast cancer diagnosis, now embarking on my treatment plan. Great posts here… I guess I am preparing to be bald. This whole experience is frightening! Thanks…Sylvia

    • Hi Sylvia, that scalp pain is awful. It shocked me how much it hurt before
      and while the hair was falling out. Losing your hair is awful…it is far
      worse than you would think if you were “pretending” you were losing your hair, isn’t it?
      The reality is horrible. However, now that I have 2 years since losing my hair under
      my belt, it isn’t so bad NOW. NOW I realize it is a short time in the scope of things.
      And my new hair is better than my old hair. But that does not bring consolation while
      you are going through it. My best to you, Sylvia! You can and are doing this! Denise

    • Oh gosh, I wish I knew. I can only tell you that my hair is thicker
      and a different texture post-chemo. It is “better” hair for me.
      Hopefully, yours will be too! My best wishes to you!

      • Hi, after almost 9 months after, my hair is still short. I don’t really let it grow though lol too hot. My hair used to be super curly it’s now wavy.

      • Hi Ashley – thanks for letting us know about your hair! I just had this conversation
        with someone that probably 80% of women after chemo keep their hair shorter than it was!
        Oh, interesting about the super curly going to wavy! So many go the other way around!

  9. I had my first chemo treatment on July 29th. This past weekend my head started hurting and yes the hair is now falling out. Not enough to tell yet but if I dare touch it there will be hair between my fingers. I know I’m not my hair but I have never had short hair. Yes I got it cut before I started treatments but dang this is scary….

  10. I am older, 73 but had LONG platinum hair, I loved it because I never had it before and I so dreaded losing it. but at stage 4 I could lose more than that. 2 weeks after lst chemo I knew it was going, head pain etc, I braided what was left on both sides and banded top & bottom cut the braids to keep. Istill havesome very short thyhin hair with enough bangs to peek out under beanie. I like stages , glad I didn’t shave head. Being a good sport helps the psyche.Good Luck to all.

    • Hi Sandra, it doesn’t matter what age we are or what kind of hair we have, it is just
      earth shattering to lose it. And we are all different. Some can shave, some cannot!
      I’m so glad you did what was best for you! Sending my best – hope, encouragement, and
      support!

  11. Can across your site and thank you so much for sharing with us your journey. I just found out I have breast cancer and will know soon if I have to do chemo. I have two little kids one is 3 and the other is 2. I am so worried about losing my hair and what they will think of there mommy once she has no hair. It has been nice to read what others had to say about the whole experience and it makes me really sad and scared to lose my hair and go threw that process.

  12. Just before I started treatment last year, I decided I was going to hold a Head Shaving Party. I wasn’t about to let Chemo dictate when I lost my hair. So March of last year, I gathered all my friends, made two buckets of Margaritas, Grilled, and had a fabulous cake made complete with pink ribbon and ” Fight Like a Girl”. My stylist was able to stop by and do the honors of shaving my head ( she left a little ) . A friends husband shaved his head with me ! After that I wore Infiniti scarves I tied myself, pre-tied scarves, and baseball hats..
    After my hair started to fall out, I would play how much can I pinch out at one time, or sometimes I would roll a lint roller over my head to see how fast it would fill up.. I am an odd twisted person, but it helped ease the sadness ( for lack of better word) that my hair was falling out. When it was in full swing, my husband finished off the shaving with his clippers.

    • I love this! I should have thought to use the lint roller ON my head – it certainly did nothing to removed the 1″ pieces of hair that fell and got caught in all my sweaters! Even after washing, those silvery-grey little buggers were imbedded in the knit. (And as Denise said, I don’t know who those belong to!) You gotta laugh a lot to get through this. Thanks for making my day brighter!

  13. Wow, Trisha, that’s the best story I have heard! Good for you!! I’m not sure you are an odd twisted person – LOL – I think you are amazing for making the best of a bad situation! You have quite a story, and I am sure you have and continue to inspire many people! I know people who read your post will be inspired!!
    I tried to do it quietly in the back room of my niece’s salon. That didn’t work – before I knew it, 12 people were back there watching. So much for quiet!
    Hope you are starting to feel better!! Thanks so much for sharing your story!!
    My best, Denise

    • I am , I have a full head of salon blonde hair, and although it’s still in the do whatever it wants stage, it is growing. I still struggle with fatigue and that drives me nuts. Denise you and your blog have been a great source of encouragement, and help this past year. Thank you so very much for sharing your journey with us.

  14. I’m so glad I found this blog. I’m going through radiation as well as oral chemo for my brain tumor (the BT as I call it) and I’m just about textbook – 3 weeks to the day my hair came out in a clump….knew it was going to had 3 nice weeks of not even thinking about it. Went to the wig place today but contemplating a turbon as well. My question to the ladies is – as ive been (bravely I must say) running my fingers through my hair and grabbing at clumps, i am tending to pull out whatever comes. Is this what you do, or do you just let it fall out at will without grabbing it? Im sure its personal to each, but some advice would be appreciated.
    *miracles happen every day and you are all my miracles. thank you for being here

    • Hi Deborah – so sorry you are going through this. Grabbing hair and pulling it!! Some people can take it,
      others cannot. When mine started doing that, I had it shaved. So did my sister. We didn’t like the “clumping
      effect” and was easier to shave it at that point. But everyone is different! I hear from many brain tumor
      patients who are doing well, so keep up the hope!!! Sending my best, Denise ps: check out my chemo
      hats at http://www.hellocourage.com as I have nice, soft hats.

      • Thanks Denise I spoke with a friend who is a 20 year survivor of Lymphoma who did shave her whole head and felt her hair actually grew in thicker so I’m contemplating….

    • Deborah, after I shaved my head ( not a clean shave) I did find myself still pinching at it, and pulling it out. On high boredom days would run a lint roller over my head to facilitate the hair loss so it wouldn’t wind up all over my pillow. It’s hard to see your hair fall out in chunks. I used Infinity scarves, and pre-tied scarves mostly. I did buy a wig, for more formal events, but did basically run around in scarves, and ball caps.
      Hugs to you, know that when you beat this, your hair will come back, and it will be more beautiful than before !

  15. I am not a cancer patient but the mother of a cancer patient. My beautiful 39 year old.Tiffany was diagnosed with stage 2a breast cancer in July. She found her lump in March but did not say anything as her Aunt was dying from pancreatic cancer. She has a bi-lateral mastectomy, radical on the right, tested positive for the BRCA2 gene & has now has her 2nd chemo treatment . Her hair started falling out & her scalp became painful. I google about it & came to your website. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You answered questions I couldn’t & with humor we need. I love, love, love the one about the lint roller. I read several to my daughter & shared your website with her. God bless you Denise & thank you for your faithfulness & ministry.

    • Oh so very sorry your daughter is going through treatment for breast cancer. It is so hard for a mom to watch. I do find as a rule, the younger woman do better on chemo and come back more quickly. I am glad they tested her for BRCA2 gene and did not wait or miss this. Please do have her read my blog as I have so much important info on it that will definitely make her journey easier. Sending my very best to you! Denise

  16. Hi my name is Elaine I’m here from Ireland and feel so alone I ,am terrified I have long hair and feel sick thinking about my 1st chemo tomorrow I need scarf. Ideas and don’t have $ what can I do one ease help me 2408558966

  17. Thank you. I’m so afraid of this part. It’s happening slowly. Tomorrow is day 16 for me . 2 days after my 2nd treatment. I can’t sleep and I’m afraid to touch or wash my hair. It’s 4 am and I found this and I was crying into my pillow. It made me feel better. But you nailed it when you said you feel like you are losing your identity.

    • V – I am so sorry, I remember that crying into your pillow well and being
      afraid to wash your hair. The worst part is getting it shaved off. Then it
      feels like freedom because it was so stressful leading up to it. Then it starts
      to improve.
      My sister’s hair is back – she finished chemo in October, 2015 and by 4 months
      later her hair was like an adorable short cut – she even had it colored right away.
      You are in the worst part of the hair loss…I am sorry. Sending a virtual hug!

  18. Thank you for the real life narrative. I am exactly thinking the same things you spoke about and stated in my own sense of humor. Thanks so much for this post.

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