Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

hair loss

I am now without a doubt that my eyebrows are thinning, as are my eyelashes.  The kid asked me a couple of nights ago if I had any eyebrows.  We were having a bed time story, and she was sitting just to my right, so saw me in profile.  I said yes, I still had my eyebrows, and looked at her so she could see them.  After she was reassured, we continued with story time, and then I tucked her in for the night.  I went to the mirror to reassure myself that night, and a couple of times a day since then.  They are growing thin.  I’m wondering if I should shave them off, or leave them be.  Believe it or not, you can buy yourself a pair of stick on eyebrows – and I have.  They are sitting right now with my false eyelashes.  Honestly, I don’t know why I buy this stuff.  I never got the hang of false eyelashes before, and most days of the week I don’t even bother with the makeup that I bought so boldly back in February.  And when I do wear it, I’m as conservative as I always was, despite swearing that I would wear BOLD colors every day, to go with my BOLD ginormous earrings, which are still sitting in the jewelry box.  Silly.  I should have known I’d be too chicken to pull that off…

Of course, I think it would be hard to pull off bold eye makeup under no eyebrows, or maybe I’m making that up because I am a chicken.

 

My hair continues to fall, in a consistent, all-over shed.  Some of it falls down my neck, so it’s like having just had a hair cut.  No matter how well my hair dresser covers me up, I still get a few snips down the back of my neck.  It was making me crazy, so I broke down and wore the cotton cap I received from the Patient and Family Center at SCCA.  I was planning to take it back, since I found two hats on line that were cuter, and thought I don’t need the freebee.  But it has turned out to be useful.  Not only does it catch the hairs from falling down my neck, it covers my head when I feel a little self conscious, such as last night after my shower.  Every time I ran  my hands over my hair to help rinse out the shampoo, the conditioner, my palms were full of hair.  Yikes, I’m so glad Ken bought a drain trap for the tub and shower.  Looked like a drowned Tribble.

The mirror was too steamy to see the damage right away, so I got dressed and cried a little about what was happening to me.  Cried a lot more with Ken, trying to figure out what it means to me.  Everyone says it’s just hair, it’s just a short phase, it will grow back.  I know all this.  Ken wants to know what I want.  I say I want to live, I don’t want this to come back.  Ken says my hair lost means we are doing what we have to do to kick this things butt.  I know this too.   But I don’t like change, especially when it is change I did not choose.

Funny thing about change, though. If I chose it or not, I’m always, ALWAYS better off for the change.  That will be true this time, as well.  I may not see all of the wonder  right away, but I know it’s there.

Later last night, when the bathroom mirror cleared, I took a look at my hair.  Definitely thinning, no real bald patches.  I know that is coming, though, and we are prepared.  I’m not going to be one of those patients who doesn’t lose any hair, but I’ll take it.  I’m lucky.  I’m halfway into this, and as long as I don’t eat too much  when I do feel good, and remember to stay well hydrated and eat small meals when I don’t feel that good, stay ahead of the nausea with my anti nausea medications, I’m pretty functional.  Until I overdo the activity and get tired.  But getting tired is a good thing, too.  I get tired when I do too much, I’m not so fatigued I can’t get out of bed.

The nausea is manageable, the fatigue is manageable, and the hair? We got that covered, too.  I just gave myself the giggles there.  Hair.  We got that covered – in more ways than one!

So my hair isn’t coming out in clumps as I had feared.  It does come out in my hands with I shampoo (very gently), condition, and apply my leave in scalp treatment.  Because we are not only cleaning the hair, we are caring for the scalp, and I think it really helps.  I don’t have that ucky waxy feeling as I experienced last time.

But my scalp does ache in places, and where it itches is where the hair seems to be falling out when I run my fingers through it.

When it does come out, there is no root attached.  Ken’s theory is that follicle just shuts off, and so the hair stops growing and simply detaches itself. As I mentioned in another post, I hope when the new coat grows in, there’s not so much silver.

Started to worry about my eyebrows and eyelashes, but on www.headcovers.com they have that covered, too.  You can stencil and temporary tattoo, you can draw in brows that are sparse, or they’ve got three different shapes of brows in a few colors you can simply glue on like you might attach false eyelashes.  Oh, and they have those, too.  Lots of styles, plenty of colors, and a few ways to attach them.  Don’t know if I will lose my eyelashes and brows, but I ordered some back up just in case.

At www.headcovers.com they also carry wigs, wig care, turbans, scarves, and hats.  I have my eye on one of the short wig styles.  But I did order a couple of the cuter night hats, as they said they would also be cute under a sun hat.

I started off this morning wondering if it was time to talk about shaving my head.  That got me crying again, because I don’t like change, no matter if I choose it (moving to a better home) or if I don’t (losing my job, losing my hair).  At least, not at first.  I was pretty upset when I was told that my job was ending at the end of April.  But now I see this as a good thing. My former employer has done so well in supporting my care, that what I had grieved about previously (leaving my boss, who I loved; watching them all make plans for the future, and knowing myself not part of that future) is not the greatest of benefits.  I couldn’t imagine trying to work up to my standards while I was undergoing chemo.  It’s too exhausting.  Everyone would be great about it, but I’d feel so guilty.

So instead I spend my time almost completely self-absorbed, worrying about when to pull the trigger and shave my remaining hair off, and how to look cute while I wait for my spring/summer coat to grow in.  And shopping for wigs and cute hats is kind of fun.  Because you have to shop for cute outfits to go with them, right?

I was feeling kind of sad and mopey about my hair and my lack of control over it when I started this post.  I’m not any more.

 

 

I’m getting ready for my second infusion.  Showered, used my Nioxin as advised by Jami at MODA, did my makeup (forgot eyelid primer, oh well), then started on my hair.  Seems like if I mousse it when it’s still wet, it takes longer to dry, and I don’t get the lift that Emi did when she styled it for me.  Well, I started to blow dry my hair, realized I forgot the mousse.  Oh, well, it still looks cute.  Went to put in the styling paste on the back and the bangs – there is quite a bit more hair coming out than normal.  Not huge clumps, as I was afraid of, just 30-40 strands, where it seems like I get 10 or so when I style my hair.  So it begins, I think.  I tried not to cry, as I didn’t want to mess up my eye makeup. Not sure I can keep it up all day.  Wish me luck.

Good thing I’m getting fitted for a wig today, huh?

I still need to learn how to tie a head scarf, but that’s what YouTube is for.

Here we go….

Hair and appearance are important as you go through this experience.  Actually, it’s important through the entire experience called Life, The Advanced Course.  I hadn’t recognized this fact until yesterday.  I sort of take my hair for granted, I really do.  I let the roots grow out too long, the cut go stale, and I don’t spend adequate time caring about my hairs specific needs for the stage it happens to be in at any given time – pregnancy, age, being ill.  It just sort of hangs around until I decide to spend the money to do something about it.  I am being stingy about the cost of maintenance, as I have “more important” things to spend it on – right?

But my hair, just as much as my two boobs, are part of the view I have of me.  I was sad about losing my right breast (poor Frownie), and I was freaked out about losing my hair.  I revisit this fear every time I wash my hair now, noting any tenderness in my scalp, and when I wrap the towel around my head, I wonder “Is today the day it starts coming out in my hands?” and how will I react to that?  I’ve started sobbing in the bathroom some mornings, as I tenderly pat my hair dry.

As some of you know, I’ve been considering cutting my hair short in preparation for the day, coming soon, when it will start to fall out in my hands.  I have worried about how my regular hair designer will feel as she shampoos my hair in preparation for the cut – will it come out into HER hands?  Will she be grossed out by me?  I just couldn’t face it.

Boy, was I wrong.

I am a regular customer at the Moda Hair Café and Day Spa in Edmonds, WA.  They always make me feel welcome and important, and they really do feel that your hair is important, at every phase and incarnation – including the one I find myself in right now.  These men and women are true professionals, and artists.  Making your hair look its best, caring for it, and giving their advice, taking into consideration your hair special needs, is their profession, and they take that very seriously.  I should have known this, based on the entire salon moving into action, all hands on deck, when I had an unfortunate home hair coloring experience.  Ladies and gentlemen of Moda, forgive my foolishness.  I will never again take action against my hair without consulting your professional advice.

Let me tell you about my conversation yesterday with one of the co-owners, Jamie.

MODA is for Mother-Daughter, as Moda is co-owned my a mother-daughter team.  Jamie is the daughter.  I’m so grateful that it was Jamie herself who picked up the phone when I finally got the nerve to call.  Not only did she spend 15 minutes with me on the phone, but I was in tears of gratefulness at one point, so much was I touched by what she had to say.  She corrected my assumption (I’m ashamed of myself, Miss Jamie) about anyone feeling strange or uncomfortable about my situation.  We are professionals here, she told me, making you and your hair look its best is what we do every day.  About my regular artist, Emi, she said “Let me tell you about Emi.  Emi is a natural artist.”  She told me if I put myself in Emi’s hands, I could trust her to give me a flattering hair cut, best suited for what I am dealing with.  She also told me they have many clients who have faced cancer, chemo, and losing their hair.  That it’s just a short phase, and that we have to take care of the hair and the scalp underneath.  She advised me on some options, and felt they would do well by me, in removing the residues from chemo that I keep feeling in my hair and on my scalp.  She also told me that everyone’s experience with hair loss during chemo is different – some don’t lose a strand, some lose it in patches, etc.  By the end of that call, Jamie had convinced me that no matter where I land in that spectrum of hair loss, I was in good hands at Moda.  They can not only handle it, they will be able to offer their professional advice and support to me while I handle it.  I love you, Miss Jamie, and I love Moda.

We also talked about how chemotherapy and hair loss is “just a short phase” and how my hair will be different when it starts to grow back.  This means my hairs needs and how I care for it will change again.  You can bet that I will be calling Moda when that time comes – I’m going to need their professional advice!