Hair: You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Till It’s Gone

You’ve heard of “bad hair days” and maybe you’ve even experienced one yourself—a day when your hair had a mind of its own and just wouldn’t cooperate with your plans for it. Ugh.

Go through certain chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer and you may end up having “no hair days.” We’ve collected some stories from those of you who have lost your hair due to chemotherapy treatments, ending with one that will make you smile for sure!

  • “Wigs are so expensive, so my friends helped me fundraise to cover the cost of one that closely matched my own hair. My (teen children) helped me shave my head when I started losing my hair, and from that point on, I wore my wig most of the time, as (my youngest) didn’t like to see me bald—“It makes you look sick, Mom, and I just want you to look normal.” Summer came and my wig got so hot, itchy, and uncomfortable that I would often go without it. I was amazed by the number of people—strangers, really—that would come up to me and tell me that I was beautiful bald. That fall, I went back to teaching and my students were fascinated by my bald head, to the point that I could easily use it to entice them into working hard! I’d say, “If we have a really good day today, I will take off my wig at the end of the day and you can see how long my hair has grown” and they were endlessly fascinated, even if they’d just seen it a couple days earlier! My students’ parents were very supportive of me not wearing my wig and being comfortable with my bald head. The support I received was really incredible!”
  • “I had my husband shave my head after the first week of chemo when tons of my hair came out in the bath towel. (I went) to get wigs and wanted to make the experience fun, so I got a wig that looked like my haircut (MaryAnn) and one that had red tones and was longer (Ginger). It was the only time in my adult life I had long hair! I didn’t mind being bald and often went wigless. It was easier to put on makeup and get ready in the morning: no dryers, curling irons or “bad hair days.” (My hair) came back grey and curly. On my 2 year anniversary of my diagnosis, I had it colored brunette again!”
  • “I decided I was going to wear a Superwoman shirt the first time I went bald in public (I’m into shocking the world). Well—haha—I was sitting and eating dinner at the table one night and for some reason I swiped my hair back. My hand came back with tufts of hair. I “inherited” my mom’s cancer cap when she passed, so I put that thing on so fast, thinking it would delay the rest of it falling out. It was then that I realized I was no Superwoman and that I could not go out in public bald. So, I found a place specializing in going bald due to cancer. I felt smaller and smaller in that chair the longer I heard the buzzing of the razor over my head, but I had fun trying on a bunch of wigs. I had never been a blonde–ever—and now, for a while, at least, I was gonna be a blonde. So, the wig ended up making me feel like Superwoman, not the bald head like I had hoped.”
  • “I was afraid of losing my hair because of my vanity. That’s it – the honest truth. I cannot put it any more blunt than that. But when the time came two weeks after my first chemo treatment, I ran my fingers through my hair and a clump came out, it was a whole new ballgame. I was not going to let the cancer decide how and when I would lose my hair like some helpless wimp. Oh no, this was going to go MY way.  I left the bathroom and called my husband out to the garage with his clippers. “Cut it off.  All of it.” I stated very firmly. He was extremely hesitant and took some convincing, but he did it. It was the way I wanted and when I wanted it—I beat cancer to it. I rocked my bald head with pride for months! My bald head was my badge of courage and helped me to remember that I was going to beat this thing, my way. After my hair came back, I was rewarded for my courage with a head full of beautiful curls after having lived my whole life with perfectly straight hair.  I earned every one of these curls and I love them so much! I feel like they might be karma’s way of giving back.”
  • “My first thoughts when I heard the words chemo was about the loss of my hair. (I bought a wig) that looked very similar to my hair color, length and style because I had made a decision not to tell my mother who had dementia that I had cancer so I didn’t want to explain a drastic change in my hair. . . . I was surprised how cold my head got, even during warm summer nights. Hats and scarves kept me comfortable. It was great not to have to shave my legs all summer long, and I lost every bit of hair on my body—not having eye lashes and brows was strange! When my hair started to grow back. It was curly and gray in many places, so I decided to have it colored in a lighter color brown to cover up the new gray hair. The curl gradually went away as my hair got longer. I still have a bald spot on my front hairline and my hair isn’t quite as thick, but I appreciate having my hair back every day.”
  • “I was “wigging it” (wearing my wig) when my daughter graduated from college. I had a teeny tiny bit of fluff on my head by then, bought a cute dress, put batteries in my camera and washed my wig before we went. My daughter was really nervous because she was wearing the highest heels I had ever seen and she didn’t want to take a tumble, so she rubbed all her “bad mojo” on me. So I am walking down a street with my camera around my neck, trip on a stair and fall. My hand was holding the camera (yup, I saved it!), and I only bled a little bit. My hubby patched me up, and onward we went toward the stadium. Walking through the library yard, about halfway to the stadium (near a very windy lake), my wig flies off my head and goes up so high and flies almost 50 yards away. Hubby ran and ran and ran and grabbed it, held it up high and said “I got it!” Meanwhile, I’m telling him to SHUSH so that people don’t know what he’s holding up. Then he tries to slip it on my head, and that wasn’t working (it has to be just perfect, you know?). So, with my family surrounding me, I put my dumb wig on. OK, now we’re off to the ceremony. Well, my cute dress had little ties on each side. To get into the ceremony you need to walk through turnstiles at the entryways. Well, guess whose little tie on the side of her dress got caught in the turnstile? Yup—mine. My dress shot up past my waist (slowly, mind you, as the turnstiles are not that fast) and I think everybody in the world turned around to look. At that point, I’m thinking I need to go into the bathroom and hide for the rest of the day. I went in to the bathroom, had myself a three-minute cry/pity party, dusted myself off and went back to the stadium with a big smile on my face. My graduate did an awesome job accepting her diploma and when she came back for pictures she gave me the biggest hug and said, “Thanks for taking all my bad luck away from me so that I wouldn’t trip or fall.” For months afterwards I looked on the Facebook and the YouTube to see if anybody had posted a funny video of the mom who lost her wig at the library!”

“Courage, the original definition of courage . . .

was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”

–Brene Brown

Thank you to those of you who shared your hair story—thus sharing your heart—with us. We are incredibly grateful for your courage.

Compiled by Amy Tix, Firefly Sisterhood Staffer and breast cancer survivor who mourned the loss of her nose hair during chemotherapy: the constant runny nose was incredibly embarassing!

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