Like most women my hair was me, I loved having a nice haircut, pre cancer days ie 7 years ago, people would say ‘ooo you have lovely hair’. My sister and niece are both hairdressers so having nice hair is no excuse for me and kind of in the family and my Mum always had to have her hair ‘done’, my sister always did her hair.
It was traumatic 7 years ago when I lost it first time. I didn’t have it cut short and the hair literally came out in clumps in the shower. I was traumatised and sobbed for days. I always felt just like a ‘thing’ – I didn’t feel like a woman or a man – something of an inbetween. My dad was bald and my brother is bald too and I ended up looking more like them due to my hair loss.
When it grew back it grew back curly and I was mortified. I just didn’t know what the hell to do with it. I would stick a headband in it and that was it. Jeff was quite pleased as at least it didn’t take me long to get ready if we were going out!
7 years on and loosing my hair again hasn’t been any less easy but I have taken it more into my own hands by firstly having it cut short. Jeff and friends always said when it grew back first time that it suited me short but I didn’t want to leave it short as it just reminded me of being ill. I knew it would look ‘OK’ but going from a shoulder length bob to a short crop is quite drastic. I had researched about donating my hair to charity but unfortunately it wasn’t long enough. It has to be at least 6″ long in a pony tail. Mine wasn’t. I had thought that this should be something that Oncologists could mention to patients. If they are going to loose their hair anyway then it’s good to give it to charity! It’s a personal thing, I know, but hey they ask families to donate organs of people who are clinically dead so why not hair?!!
A friend contacted me and told me her daughter had seen my post on twitter about donating hair and had set up a just giving page to raise money and donate 7″ of her own hair! No don’t do it! was my reply but I was very touched and moved by this. A week later she had her hair cut and raised an amazing £307 for The Little Princess Trust charity for children’s wigs. I’m still overwhelmed by it and thank you so much Dominique – you are a star!
My hair started falling out 11 days after chemo and by the next day Saturday I knew I had to do something to take control of the situations and to stop being as traumatised. I had two children who were now aware of this so I didn’t want them to see me going through that pain, it would be bad enough anyway. So Saturday night, I rang my sister and told her I needed to come round to have it cut. I had put the inevitable off all day so I got there at 8pm and felt sick knowing what I was about to do. I knew it was going to be hard and for my sister to actually cut my hair too. It was a very emotional thing to do and for her to have to done. We cried and she cut. She tried hiding the hair from my view but I didn’t need to see it… The tears flowed. There was no going back and no more hiding the fact that ‘something’ was going on for people around to see.
I got home and I walked in with my hood on. I felt so naked and vulnerable, even in front of Jeff. Faron, my daughter, was already asleep in bed but Regan, my son was still up. I took my hood down and they both burst into tears… It wasn’t the fact that they didn’t like it, Jeff does but we’d been there before and it was the reality of it all coming back that made him upset I know. Regan, well, I’m his Mummy and it was a huge change and understanding for him. We all had a hug and a cry.
My daughter didn’t see it until the next morning and she was very nonchalant about it. She didn’t cry and she just said ‘yes I know shes had her hair cut’ to Jeff but she didn’t want to look at me. They took to the change quite well and a few days later they felt OK about it.
I new this was only short term and sure enough 8 days later on the Sunday I hadn’t washed my hair that day and it felt different, itchy and really sore. I could tell it was coming out much more just over one night and saw a lot more hair on the pillow. I had left it all day and then decided to shower that night. As soon as the water hit my head I put my hands through my hair it literally wiped out onto my hands, every time I did it more came out. It blocked the shower plug hole and I had to carry on. My hair was really, really thin and I looked more like a typical cancer patient. It’s the look I hate. I didn’t know what to do and there were longer strands over the top so Jeff said should he get the clippers and whiz it off. We decided on #1 and I sat crouched on the floor whilst he used the clippers on the hair that was left. The children were in bed, Jeff used the clippers up and over my head time and time again and he sobbed, I sobbed, it was just awful. No one knows what this is like until you have to do it. People don’t understand when they say ‘it will grow back’ or ‘it’s only hair’. Your crowning glory, you feel beautiful and defines you as a woman… I was a ‘thing’ again.
I had jumped back in the shower with bits of hair over me and Regan came into see me poking his head around the shower glass wall. He was shocked and cried, tears rolling down his face ‘its still mummy’ cried Jeff ‘yes it is and we all still love her’ cried Regan. ‘I’m sorry Regan, I cried ‘I love you mummy’ said Regan.
I had chemo the next day and we had to be up early in the morning so Faron only saw me with a hat on then my wig on. I would show her later when we got back and had enough time to talk and discuss it with her without a rush. When we finally got home Regan wanted to show Faron. ‘Do you want to see?’ I asked. ‘No’ she wouldn’t even look at me. Jeff asked her to sit down and asked her if she wanted to see and she started to cry ‘stop asking me, I don’t want to see!’ She shouted. I know when we talked originally about my cancer diagnosis, Faron took it very hard and sobbed and I said what was wrong was it about my hair? She said ‘yes’. I respect her wish and Ill keep my head covered at all times possible for my little girl until she is ready to see. The last thing I want to do is to upset her and make this more traumatic for my children. It’s hard for a 7 year old to come to terms with something that she knows will make me look different. She can’t run her fingers through it or put bobbles in playing hairdressers or brush it anymore like she use to. Farons hair is beautiful and her knowledge of cancer already has had her asking ‘will I have to have my booby cut off like yours mummy and have a scar on my back?’ ‘No you won’t, ever’ is my reply. Heartbreaking and I cried when she asked me. She obviously thinks that this can happen to her and if that’s true then she may also think she will have to loose her hair… No wonder she doesn’t want to look. No wonder she is so upset.
So I was wearing my hat or my wig to save my children from being any more emotionally scarred from this. But a week later and I caught her looking a couple of times when I’ve had to take my hat or wig off. When Faron came home from the first day back at school after the Easter break I asked her if I can take my hat off. She agreed saying I looked like a boy in her class who also lost his hair (due to alopicia) and she doesn’t mind that so yes I can take it off. I’m glad as I couldn’t stand being in a hat all through summer! ‘But I’m still you’re mummy’ I said ‘Yes and you are beautiful and look like Grandad as he was bald’…
I can’t wait for October to finish my chemo and my hair will start to grow again. Feeling like a woman again and recognising that person in the mirror that I currently don’t recognise when I catch a glimpse of myself. Ready for a new phase of my life with hair and hoping I can go back to looking like the Mummy they both know. I’m hoping to look like their Mummy for a long, long time…