On Losing Your Hair

Hair Loss

If you have chemotherapy, you will quite likely temporarily lose your hair.  The first time this happens to you, it can be quite traumatic.  Until it happens to you, you don’t really realize how important hair is to your total look.

For most of us, appearance is important and hair is an important part of what people see when they look at us.  When we have breast cancer and lose our hair from chemotherapy or other treatments, it can become a problem for our self-esteem and general level of happiness.  When we’ve lost our hair and look in the mirror we suddenly don’t recognize the person staring back at us.  In fact, you might see your mother or your grandmother or some other cancer patient you once knew, and it can be a very distressing moment.

When we go out in public, it can be even worse, because depending on how you handle your hair loss, your appearance announces to the world that you have cancer.  As a result of the fear that the “C” word instills, many people may suddenly start treating you as a “victim”, not as the person you are who just happens to have a disease.

 

The first time I lost my hair I started with the scarf/hat option and when I look at the old pictures from those days, I am embarrassed at how poorly I looked when I went out into the world.  I felt betrayed and like a victim – hence I looked like a victim and got treated accordingly.

After a while I bought a wig.  A really bad wig.

I bought it because it was cheap and was more or less the color of my own hair. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a decent wig because I think I was partly in denial about the whole thing. At the time, I felt like a victim and it didn’t feel right to spend a lot of money on my appearance.   In my mind I told myself I was going to die anyway, so why bother trying to look good?

I wore the bad wig exactly once.

It was to a women’s business networking meeting.  Everyone stared and I was mortified at their reaction.

After I got home from the event, I put the wig in the back at the very top of my closet, and went back to the scarf/hat option with a “halo” of hair.  I wasn’t happy about my look, but I didn’t know I had other options.

A “halo” of hair is basically a circle of hair that is primarily bangs in the front and you wear it under a scarf or hat.  I loved my “halo” of hair – you could tell it was a wig but at least it looked decent enough for most situations.

Soon enough my hair grew back, I got it cut and colored.  And when I looked in the mirror a few months later, I no longer saw the victim I had been.  I was back, and feeling good.

Barbara Spalding RDN Culinary Dietitian

Hi, I am

Barbara Spalding MS, RDN, Culinary Dietitian

As a dietitian and world traveler, I love bold flavors — in food and in life. 14 years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole into Breast Cancer Wonderland. Since then, I’ve learned to cook differently while savoring the pleasures of food and companionship. I’ve built a resilient new life and a bold new kitchen. Let me show you the flavors of the world.
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