Did you know that with this protocol of SCT that the first round of chemo is over…like a week plus over, before hair loss begins? Ya, me neither.
Since the first mention of the transplant, a few years back, I knew I would lose my hair. Every doctor I saw kind of mentioned it in passing, on the way to the “bigger” side effects like nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, infertility, etc. I’m not sure why alopecia caused by chemotherapy seems to be considered as a lesser of the side effects. Maybe because it’s seen as a vanity thing. Having hair, or being bald doesn’t have a physical effect on the body, and I suppose that when there are so many other side effects to be managed, hair loss just doesn’t seem to matter. “It’s only hair.” Even I kind of felt like that, until it started to happen.
When we decided that the transplant was a go, I went out and cut my hair as short as I felt still looked good. Surprisingly, it was a big hit and made me wish I had done a long time ago. Ha!
I decided to wait for the first strands to fall in ernest, before shaving it down. I didn’t want to wait until too much fell, because I felt that would be traumatic, seeing it get patchy.
It was strange, I was finished chemo, and feeling better. Things had returned to “normal” and mom was planning her return home for a while, except..I was waiting for my hair to start to fall out.
I had these
delusional hopeful thoughts that maybe I would be an anomaly (hey, it could happen…look at what else has! ), but alas I woke up 12 days after my first dose of cyclophosphamide with the evidence on my pillow.
It wasn’t coming out in clumps, but definitely in handfuls when I ran my fingers through it, and you know what was strange? What freaked me out more than seeing it and knowing it was just the beginning, was seeing it as evidence that noxious chemicals had done it, and while I felt better physically, the chemo was still taking a toll on my physical body.
Not to dwell, I decided that I would shave it…or more accurately, hubbs would shave it. So on the 18th of August, this happened:
My sister and her fiancé joined in by FaceTime, and all in all, I felt ok. I had been anticipating it, and since I had made a plan and bought a couple of chemo caps, and a wig, just in case I was too weirded out when the time came, I felt in control of what was happening (however possible that was).
Now the perks of being bald in the summer are that it is SO MUCH cooler. No, like really, so. much. cooler., and I found myself pretty comfy walking around at home, and in public with my “buzz cut”. I got the “are you sick, or trying to be hardcore?” stares, and sympathetic nods (usually from older ladies who I guess chose to believe it was illness and not really a choice) – but it was okay.
My dad even shaved his down in solidarity:
All in all, things were fine, pleasantly surprising actually…until it started to get patchy:
There was no denying it. This was not a choice. Chemo caps have become a necessity when leaving the house, and while I haven’t yet had the guts to wear the wig (it looks so…wig-like), I plan to do so when the weather gets colder.
The plan now is to shave it, I just haven’t quite gotten there yet…I haven’t wrapped my head around being bald bald, even though it seems like not much of a jump from patchy…it is, in my head anyway.