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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's just HAIR, it will grow back...

Ok, so these are words to NEVER say to someone who is just diagnosed with Cancer and worried about losing their hair. They know that hair grows back, they know its just temporary, but that doesn't make it any easier. Because when it comes down to it, for some people it's not "just hair" it's what you see in the mirror everyday and it's part of you that is snatched away at a time when you're already feeling sick and vulnerable and it's just not fair. I was that person who got angry if my hairdresser cut more than 2 inches off my hair when I just asked for a trim. And in college I went through a phase when I dyed my hair blonder and blonder until it broke off in my hand and I was left with no hair on the front of my head. So faced with the prospect of being bald, I knew it was something that would be very hard for me to deal with.

I've been scared to write about my hair thus far because I don't want to jinx myself. It may seem silly to worry about a jinx but I had no idea what I would look like at this point in my treatment and I've been pleasantly surprised to see that I look! So I don't want to mess up a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I am losing hair. A lot of it. The photo above is about how much hair I lose a night (Sorry if this pic looks gross but its real!). Every night I go through my hair regime of applying Nioxin follicle booster and scalp therapy and moisturize my scalp so it stays conditioned. My hair sheds in the normal way but I just lose much more than I did pre-chemo. It just comes out in my hand when I brush it. It's scary to lose this much hair everyday and it makes me sad, but the silver lining is that when I look in the mirror I can't really tell the difference so I try to keep that in mind.

It's funny, right after I was diagnosed I scoured the Internet for tips on how to keep my hair. I found a couple of websites where people who had not lost all their hair during chemo were concerned that this meant the chemo wasn't working. I remember reading that and thinking, "heck no, if that was me, I'd be thrilled that I still had my hair!" But now that I'm almost halfway through chemo and still have my hair, I find myself thinking, "Oh my God, is the chemo working???" instead of being happy that I still have hair. You have the classic image of a Cancer patient in your head and when you don't look like that you feel like something is wrong. I don't know why I still have my hair, part of me thinks that God was tired of hearing my "please don't let me lose my hair" prayers and decided to cut me a break and let me keep it for a I do have to remind myself that I am only halfway through, I still have 3 more cycles to finish (ugh, I feel like I've been getting chemo foreverrrrrrr) so I have no idea what's going to happen. At least I have a fabulous wig just in case :)

The other thing about hair is that I'm a black woman. And we have years and years of issues with hair. Chris Rock touched on it in his new movie Good Hair, but our hair means so much to us because we spend sooo much time on it. Pre-chemo I chemically relaxed my hair every 6-8 weeks. Once I found out that I would have to go through chemo I decided to stop relaxing it but this means that I now have to deal with lovely "new growth" or unprocessed, natural hair at my roots. I was religious about getting my hair blown out straight so this unrelaxed hair at my roots drives me crazy. Unfortunately it's just something I'll have to get used to because even after chemo I'll have to wait a significant amount of time before I can use chemicals again. I was surprised and frustrated to find that I couldn't find anything online about African-American women dealing with chemo and hair loss. Our hair is so fragile and prone to breakage that I was looking for a little guidance. And believe me I searched and searched! This experience has made me become quite an experimenter (is that a word?) so now that I know there's a lack of information in the area, maybe I'll write a book when this is all done!


  1. Hi Morgan, hang in there. I hope you got the package I sent to you via Fed Ex this week.