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Facing Hair Loss Through Chemo


Pink Hair Cube wig for chemotherapy hair loss

My long and lustrous mane turned into a matted web of knots with that final wash that was one too many. I didn't know chemotherapy dried out your hair, as does shampoo. If I'd known, I would have switched to only using conditioner much sooner. Instead, I was faced with having to cut doughnut like knots out of my tresses before lopping off the length and hoping for the best. And that best effort only lasted so long.


Once I accepted the decline in my hair's length and strength, I bit the bullet and allowed some beautiful friends to ceremonially buzz cut it. It was then that wigs and hats became my best friends. But hair loss is also about losing eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair. Some of it is amazing to lose, some of it not so much.


I didn't have to shave my legs or armpits for the longest period I can recall since hitting puberty. And once the hair on my head was removed, I actually felt okay about it. But when my eyebrows disappeared, followed by my eyelashes, I often found it difficult to recognise and accept myself in the mirror.


I was fortunate enough to go through all of this during a time when there are many things available on the market to help. I was amazed by what I could buy to help me feel more normal, or as normal as I could possibly feel during this difficult time. I'm not the most savvy or skilled when it comes to beauty products, preferring to keep things as simple as possible. But I did have some fun with new head and hair accessories to make me feel as lively as I possibly could.


I hope that by sharing what I used on my hair loss journey, others will feel supported to find what serves them. See this as a mere starting point.


Here's what helped me:

  • My pink wig makes my day every time I wear it

  • Eyebrow Tattoo Stickers stick on with ease and last a few days if gentle

  • Magnetic eyelashes are also popular but I'm still trying to find a brand that works

  • Garnier Banana Hair Food was my go-to product to ease the knots when my hair was falling out

  • Noughty Care Taker Conditioner was gentle on my scalp when my hair started to grow back

  • REN Anti-Fatigue Body Wash was lovely on my scalp, neck and shoulders before my hair grew back. I still use it instead of shampoo now that my hair is returning

  • Sunglasses of various tints protected my eyes from the sun, rain and wind. Without eyelashes your eyes can water easily or your eyes feel attacked. I also preferred to cover my eyes in their absence, as I mostly felt strange without my lashes.

There are some great organisations out there that have support groups and sessions to assist with all things appearance. Since Covid, many of them also offer online sessions, which is great if you or your loved one isn't feeling well enough to travel. The hospitals also have referral programmes and often a specialist unit for cancer patients. They offer free information and support. Your consultant should be able to advise.


Look Good Feel Better (LGFB)

LGFB are a wonderful charity that support cancer patients with assistance for lots of medical matters that impact cancer patients. I signed up for their FREE Skincare and Makeup Workshop run by a volunteer makeup artist. An added bonus of joining is a free goodie bag that is gifted to all attendees. It's filled with treats.


Macmillan Support

I bought the wigs you see me wearing online, but Macmillan offer a wig service. The hospital medical team can refer you or your loved one. Here's a direct link to their tips on hair loss, wigs and how the service works: Macmillan Wigs for Cancer Treatment.


Cancer Hair Care

From clinics and events, to advice and guides, this is another charity organisation I found useful. In particular, their Hair Loss Dollies are fantastic if there is a child close to the person losing their hair. The dollies are designed to help with the conversation about hair loss. I'm very close to one of my friend's daughter, and the doll that we named Darcy helped brilliantly to talk about why 'Marmalade' (my nickname) had lost her hair.


We all approach these things in different ways. My approach worked for me in the most part, albeit I wasn't always comfortable choosing not to wear false eyelashes. But I was happy to ride the discomfort as a temporary situation. We're all unique in how we want to live through our experiences. I just hope that in sharing what I used, and how I felt, I can help you or your loved one feel better.


Wishing you well,

Marie


If you'd like to understand more, my earlier blog post Cancer Care for the ones you Care About shares more information on what helped me.

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2 comentários


Really useful tips Marie as I’m going through this process as we speak as you know. My hair is so thin and scraggy now and I had no idea that the quality would deteriorate so rapidly. I’m almost at the buzzcut stage I feel, just not quite there yet. Nobody can prepare you for this can they and only someone who has been through it can have any idea what it’s like. Thank you for sharing. Susie x

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I think you're right. It feels so different to what you imagine it might be like. It's not just the hair loss but also they way it falls out, the texture and the way it clings to everything. Sending you love through your experience. xx

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