Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Losing your hair and yourself a bit too

Hey world, this is going to be a short one this week, I have my checkup this week, so not much time to write.

Most chemo treatments make your hair fall out. This I was prepared for.

Or so I thought.

The first round of chemo treatments no hair fell out. I thought this was a big success and that it would just gradually fall out over time. The first few weeks went by and it was still quite strongly bound to my head.

My second chemo treatment was quite a different experience. It was a different set of drugs and I found it hard to believe but my hair started falling out in clumps off the top of my head within half an hour. My pillow was covered. It is not something I like to think about. Some hair held on, but the drive home from the hospital it fell out a bit more in the car. When I changed my clothes my chest hair fell out. Although a smooth chest is some guys dream, this was not something I was looking forward to.

Hair falling out everywhere. I tried to "hang on" to as much as I could but it was a losing battle, so I armed myself with my trimmers and cut it all off the top of my head. As a guy this wasn't a huge deal, I don't style my hair per se, I felt I looked a bit weird bald but it wasn't terrible. I can only imagine how a women feels, or a guy who cares about his hair for that matter.

What I wasn't prepared for, and something I never really thought about was when my eyebrows and eye lashes fell out. When this happened it was obvious to the world I was sick. I always liked hiding from people that I was undergoing chemo but I couldn't anymore. It was one of the things that made me feel super self conscious. I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror most days. I didn't see myself anymore. Just some sick hairless pasty thing. I have been told that loss of identity is a common problem chemo patients have. So if you have this problem, you are not alone. I just stopped looking in the mirror and pretended everything was fine most days, and that I looked fine, even though I didn't.

As chemo went on, my treatments got spread out more. My eye lashes would grow in a bit, fall out again, the cycle was really hard to deal with mentally. Eventually though, as I finished chemo, my hair grew back...and then fell out again. Apparently this happens to a lot of chemo patients too, something I wasn't aware of. It is one final slap in the face.

But my hair did grow back. It was very mentally tough to wait it out coming back. It didn't grow back as full, and my facial hair is patchy, but it was a real sign that I was recovering.

I won't soon forget what it felt like to lose all my hair, and the mental trauma it causes. But at the end of the day, I needed the treatment, so I can't complain too much. That is basically how I deal with those thoughts in my memory these days.


  1. Amazing how much we associate our hair & physicality with identity. I guess it explains why people tuck, pull and trim as they age. I remember looking in the mirror during chemo and just feeling such sadness for the change. That's past now, but like you I won't soon forget the experience. ~Catherine

    1. It is crazy, you lose yourself so easily, and it seems to happen to so many people. I am glad it is in the past for you too. I know I deleted basically every picture I had from that time. I am happy you have gotten through it too. -Eamonn