Bountiful to Bald…and Beyond.

So, hair loss. Fun topic eh?

However not fun, or exciting it is, it really is something I’ve felt the need to write about for a while now, and I’ve only recently felt totally in the right place to do so.

Hair loss, it’s something that I’ve been through, and so have countless other men women and children in their treatment of chemo, and sometimes Radiotherapy. Of course some other illnesses also see it occur.

As a scientific explanation for the seemingly baffling side effect of hair loss-

“Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells—healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair, are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If you’re not in cancer treatment, your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours.”

The thing is, during chemotherapy, these cell don’t divide. Meaning the hair follicles haven’t got the cells required to stick the hair ‘in’. So, voila! Out it comes. Perhaps that’s a bit blunt. I do know the VERY scientific reason your hair follicle (and cancer) cells stop rapidly dividing. It’s because the cells spindle fibers are restricted. (I learnt that while dong my biology exam!)

Throughout my own experiences, I tried to think the clique hair loss thoughts- ‘it’s only hair.’ Other parts of me thought about how gross my hair would be if I had it during chemo, how not washing, lying down, being sick (yes I was sick in my hair while I had it) would have just contributed to me feeling rubbish.

Yet really, I knew, and know this was a brave face. Because hair loss sucks. IT SUCKS. For me though the actually being bald wasn’t nice, it was the fact I hadn’t chosen this change was the worst, which for me made the haircut into a bob much more traumatic than shaving it off. I CRIED, quitescarf collage embarrassingly having it cut into a bob, perhaps because no hair had fallen out by that point, and it felt very much not real, even though I knew. Denial. Then again I did have ALOT of hair to begin with.

For anyone going through this, right now I have some advice.

-1, if its long reduce the length, whatever length actually, make it shorter. You feel a bit more in control that way. Some people shave it all off straight away. This way the falling out might not be so distressing.

2. After you first big day of loss, like the FIRST day loads comes out, if you haven’t already shaved it, do it then. Shaving it of is so much better than watching it fall out. Like, watching it fall out was depressing, awful for those around me as well as myself, and quite frankly GROSS- just my own hair was all eww all over me, and the stuff on my head was so matted. My mum, though amazing, said it looked like a dead cat on my head. YAY for me.

I didn’t find it massively difficult being bald. I didn’t let myself be that upset, in a self esteem way. For a long time didn’t like to go bald, even in my house, because I was scared of upsetting/scaring them. In the end I realised, though it may be not very pleasant for them when I first went uncovered, but had always been covered up, my head may have become taboo, an awkward subject, more painful in the long run. Anyway, he humour of children is what you need- eg, when my 5 year old sister first saw me after I shaved my head she said ‘Harry Hill has no hair, with the ears and the glasses!’ Basically my sister thought I looked like Harry Hill!

(This is the same child who when my hair grew back said smoothing my new hair was like having a ‘real life pet!’)

The weirdest thing for me really was losing most of my eyebrows and all of my eyelashes. When they said hair loss, I didn’t think eyelashes. Pre losing my eyelashes, I never really wore mascara. Now I do, each time I put on makeup because I am so happy to have them now! Eyelashes are surprisingly vital in keeping dust out of eyes 😀

Also, though I wasn’t self-conscious in this respect, I didn’t mind if people knew I had no hair, I didn’t like the way my cancer had given me physical reminder of it.

I was originally do a video to talk to you all about this, but I’m struggling, sat in front of the laptop to get my words out, never mind if I was trying to speak to you, via log!

Hair loss, is a subject I find really hard to articulate. I find it really hard to talk about it because it inflicts upset on so many levels. Like though it was a brave face, the fact that having no hair all my ills was a helpful thing, Obviously I would never have chosen to not have it, I can’t imagine how my self-esteem may have actually been lower from not having the energy to brush, or being able to wash it

The thing is, really, truly though you don’t want to hear it, losing your hair ISN’T that bad. For me, the actual look of me having no hair wasn’t that bad, I didn’t feel a massive loss of confidence or anything. I just missed the creativity of having hair. I still do, a very short crop isn’t very versatile!

For this reason I hated my wig! My hair was all about making it into different styles, experimenting and my wig couldn’t do any of this (it was also the wrong color, kinda gross feeling, and itchy- never mind) Like many others scarfs, hats and bald (at home) were how I rocked, until I was confident enough to go scarf less all the time!

I have a massive array of scarves, and I had many ways to tie them, as seen below. It has got to be said, I do love switching them about and finding nice ways to make them look. I made up most of the ways I wore the scarves, because even on the internet, there aren’t man suggestion apart from the obvious ‘cancer patient’ bandana tie- which I’m not a fan of!

The thing is….my hair IS growing back, thick and pretty fast curley too 🙂

Here’s two picture instructions on how to tie my favourite scarf-ties!scarf ponytailscarf 40s

(all picture credit to Holly Clark, my sister.)

Anyone else who’s going through similar situations, involving hairloss, feel free contact me and have a chat. I’ve been through it and am coming out the other side.

I don’t really have much other news….apart from that I’ve been invited to blog for HuffPost, and may be collabing with another cancer survivor who writes her own blog….and is from the USA.

That was quite a long blog (sorry if it was rambly!)have a great weekend, keep smiling!

Em x

 

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Posted on August 1, 2014, in Em's Blogging. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Good to hear your views and experiences of hair loss. I know that not too many patients talk about this side of the chemo as some feel that they lose apart of themselves when their hair falls out, so thank you for sharing! It is always good to see your blogs Emily and I look forwad to reading more! I wish you the very best with school and the future. xxx

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