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7 Truths I’ve Learned from Losing my Hair to Cancer

Holy crap, losing my hair has been hard, even though we’ve now reached the point where my sense of humor about all of this has returned and I’ve started joking (and writing) about the loss.  With the loss has also come a dawning of personal reflection, laughter, and some important lessons.  Since I’m a pretty public person, much of this discovery has been chronicled via the Facebooks, but I figured I would share them here, as well, for the masses to enjoy.

7 Truths I’ve Learned from Losing my Hair to Cancer

1)  My identity has been intertwined with my hair for as long as I can remember.  I could not have imagined the toll its loss would have on me.  Okay, maybe on some level I could.  I pretty much love my hair.  It’s always been there; it’s always done whatever I wanted.  From color to cut, I’ve always found a way to express my individuality through my hair.  I’ve rebelled, I’ve conformed, and I’ve had fun.  No longer having this form of self-expression has forced me to take a deep look at why I do what I do with the hair and has pushed me to find new ways of self expression.  Fun toe nail colors anyone?

chemo scarf

2)  Your hair or scalp or whatever (does it really matter?) hurts when the hair starts falling out.  No one ever warns you about this…or at least they didn’t me.  Maybe it is just me, but the entire time my hair has been falling out (we’re going on 3+ weeks now) it has felt like I just took my hair out of a ponytail after having had it up, tight, for days at a time; that prickly achy pain.

3) While my body hair (ew, that sounds kinda gross) hasn’t fallen out per se, I am happy to report that after a thorough shaving, nary a hair has grown back…which is great because I stop shaving in the fall anyway.  This way Jon doesn’t have to spend the next 3 months with Grizzly Adams.  Total husband perk!

shaved head with kiddo2

4) The public world is only as freaked out about your hair as you are.  (This also goes for your kids, so own it early.)  Mostly.  Actually, there are some serious douche canoes out there, but we don’t let them stop us, do we?  I’ve been called disgusting (by a freaking kid) and I’ve been told that I’m an inspiration.  Neither would be how I would describe myself, I’m simply doing what must be done, hair or no hair.

balding zombie

5)  Blonde hair is more resistant to falling out.  While the rest of my hair is making a mass exodus from my scalp, the naturally blonde hair has shown much more gumption and has decided to stick it out a bit longer.

6)  Halloween is the best time to go bald.  The costume options are seemingly endless!  Pirate? Aye! Zombie? Braaiiinnsss! Cancer patient? Check!

green hat

7)  Twisting those damn scarves is hard!!  Despite hours of YouTubing and arrangement practicing, I am still a novice and am SO THANKFUL my aunt is a crocheting queen.  She’s made me 5 hats already, so my little bald head will stay warm this winter without my needing to be scarf savvy. This is good, because I’ve never been very stylish and trying to style a scarf is harder than trying to figure out what to do with long hair!

So, obviously, no Earth-shaking revelations here…just a collection of truths I have found to be self-evident over the last 3 weeks.  Have you ever lost your hair or part of your identity?  How did you cope?

See y'all later!
Amanda

About It's Me, Amanda

Amanda is a southern belle caffeine addict who spends her tiny amount of free time writing here.

14 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing these truths, Amanda! I admire your spunk through all of this. Look gorward to reading more.

  2. YES IT DOES HURT! And for what it’s worth…. they didn’t tell me either.

  3. Thank you for constantly reminding me what’s truly important in this life. I know that each day has it’s challenges for you, but always try to keep in mind the impact you’ve had on so many of us.

  4. I’m so happy you’re able to share this. I remember Sheila Dowd talking to me about your #1 and how it affected her and how her identity was so wrapped up in her hair.

    You keep it real. You keep me real, woman. Keep up the good fight.

    Love you.

  5. You ARE stylish, you silly monkey. And adorable. I know Dan told you about when I shaved my head because I thought the kids had lice. I was SHOCKED by how different the world felt. I felt naked and different and like I wasn’t sure exactly who i was on the outside anymore. I knew I was still the same person on the inside, but wasn’t sure everbody else could read me anymore. It was weird, and humbling, and daunting. But then as it grew back in its stubbly glory, something weird started to happen. I could never make it lie flat anymore, it stuck straight up like a hairbrush all the time. And people LOVED IT. I heard all the time, “”I love your hair!” and inside, I’d be like you mean this weird debris that I cannot control at all? But now it looks like it was never gone. It is a season, one that I know you did not choose. But one which you are rocking with your usual aplomb. Love you, girl.

  6. Without your hair I can see how beautiful you are inside and out without it being a distraction.

  7. I battled cancer in 2012. Lost most of my hair. The killer was when a clump fell out on my boss’s desk during a business meeting. We both froze. I cringed and sort of swept it up. We were both mortified. After that, the ponytails grew smaller until those little tufts just blew in the wind. No rubber band was small enough.
    The hair grows back though. Straight up. With a will of its own.
    Strange how your identity is wrapped I to those strands.

    🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing Amanda! I am so sorry that you have to go through this!
    On a brighter note — you do look adorable in those crocheted hats! HUGS!!!!!

  9. Was so happy to read your blog! Just had mine cut off this last Monday as it was falling out so badly. And…couldn’t get over how much my head would hurt. You described it perfectly! No one told me either, so, thought it was just me until I read this. Glad I’m not alone. My hair was everything to me too, but, what are ya gonna do? At least I get ready quicker in the mornings. Ha! I love the crochet hat! I bought a wig, but at home I usually just wear a knit hat. Hang in there…getting well is the most important thing. We have a lot to live for & our hair is just a small sacrifice. At least we’re not alone!

  10. You’re a tough chickie! You’re my tough chickie. You are amazing and yes, your hair has been your focal way to be YOU since high school and the many multitude of colors and styles it gas been all have expressed your many stages in life! Without the hair, you are still my beautiful intelligent daughter! Love you, hair or no hair.

  11. I wish we lived closer because my daughter could use your beautiful head as a canvas for some wickedly beautiful henna tattoos. You could change them out every 2 weeks or so. Talk about expression! You may want to consider this if you can find an artist near you. When I worked at the children’s hospital in Ohio, our photographer took it upon herself to paint on the children’s heads. It was a wonderful way for them to share their emotions in an artful way. It was beautiful to witness as she created such joy in a time of uncertainty. I hope the pain part goes away soon. Sending an abundance of love.

  12. Hi Amanda,I’m so glad you are doing good and your spirits are high! Just remember you are loved and I really would love to meet you ! You are my hero! bless you and yours ! tell dad high for me ! your friend pam swinson

  13. I lost my hair while going through Cancer treatments last year. It was truly devastating. You’ve probably heard this before, but my thoughts went along this line: “So, not only am I sick and feel terrible due to treatment, now I look terrible, too!”

    I refused to leave the house until I could figure out what to do so I’d feel more comfortable in public. I had gotten a free wig from the American Cancer Society, but it was a bit too crazy for me. I believe my husband referred to it as “country hair.” I had had hair down past my shoulders, but had it cut shorter as someone had said that would make it a tiny bit more bearable once the hair started falling out.

    In the end, I remembered a friend had given me a scarf when I was in the hospital after I got my diagnosis. I pulled that baby out and wore the heck out of it. And, I bought several more in a variety of patterns/colors.

    At this point, my hair mostly is all back, but I do definitely have less of it in the front. Though, in my opinion, I had too much to begin with. I’ve always had thick, curly hair. The plus side to all of this, is that I finally got a fantastic cut and am able to wear and style my hair down. I hardly ever wore it down before and had for a long time wished I could pull off a short do, but never thought I could. But now I know – I can!

    I know I don’t know you, but did want you to know that my daughter and I pray for you at least 2/day.

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