Jennifer's Journey - Chapter 6: Let's Talk About Hair


Let’s talk about hair. All hair, hair on the head, hair on the legs and arms, hair under said arms, hair in the nether-regions, eyebrows and eyelashes. Hair is one (of many) defining features of someone. Think about it—you describe a person as having short hair, bald, long hair, unshaven, shaven, what color hair, etc. You wear a haircut that suits your face, your style, your personality.  Your wear your hair.  And on bad days (and good), it wears you.

Now, when you are told you will lose your hair because of chemo drugs and, do not kid yourself, all breast cancer chemo does cause hair loss, it is disconcerting and as if a part of your identity will be altered in ways you cannot imagine. It is a tell-tale sign that you are sick and under treatment; it will possibly change how you how see yourself and how other people see you, even those close(st) to you. Yet, despite the requisite “balding”, there is another side, a potentially positive side: the merits of not having to shave, wax and such if that is your thing.

Losing your hair might be something that you can control to a point, something you can make your own. Yet this depends on mindset and comfort. When I was diagnosed, the person with me looked at my oncologist and said: “I have to ask the elephant in the room.” Without missing a beat, my doctor said “100% within 3 weeks.” Ouch. Okay, so now what? I always had a bob. It was me. It defined me—a perfect bob off and on for 22 years and mostly on. I immediately knew what I had to do. I emailed my hair stylist and she sent me a picture of a pixie cut. I wanted to immediately cut my hair. Maybe cutting it off so quickly after diagnosis was a way for me to accept what was about to happen. My daughter, however, was freaked out by the idea of this decision since she could not even process my diagnosis. I, however, thought: why spend that much money for a few weeks? Then, a friend who had gone been through this dastardly process said two words. Very simple word: buzz cut.

I was not averse to the idea in the least but, her explanation was/is rational and needs to be told to people about to go through this. Cutting your hair, at least for her and myself, is an act of control and one of mitigating the emotional effect of this craziness. Your hair is coming out—you have no choice about it—and it will come out all over the place and mostly in the shower. So, if your hair is still long(ish), it will clog the drain.

(To be continued).

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