Losing my hair was honestly the darkest day of my post-cancer life. I know that sounds crazy because you’re probably thinking the darkest day was when the doctor told me I had this horrible disease and that I could never bear my own children.
They both rank right up there, but for some reason, for me, the day my hair really started to fall out was horrifying. Calling my hairdresser CJ to come to my house to shave my head was so hard. I had long blonde hair my whole life. I’ve never had short hair since kindergarten and, honestly, I felt not only defined by my long blonde hair but that it was such an important part of who I was.
I quickly learned that wasn’t true but on that day, it was horrible. I sat out on the deck of our house and cried for hours. My mom tried to console me, but nobody could make me feel like myself again in that moment.
It took some time, but eventually I started researching wigs online and decided I wanted to wear something that made me feel like myself again. This is such a personal choice. Some women want to embrace their bald/shaved head, some wear hats/scarves and some go the wig route.
Maybe being in the public eye so much played into my decision, I don’t know, but once I got used to my wigs and how to style them, I started to feel more confident and like my old self again. I didn’t look “sick,” which was so important to me. I didn’t want people to look at me with pity because I “looked” like I had cancer. I just wanted to be “normal” like everyone else.
I want you to say these words out loud: I will not feel guilty because the idea of losing my hair horrifies me slightly more than cancer itself.
I get it. I felt it, too. Let’s face it: for a woman, the idea of going bald can be heartbreaking. Does any woman ever really long to hear those words or embrace that realization? We’re so often defined by our hair, from Jennifer Aniston to Marge Simpson. We notice hair first, we love hair, we covet other women’s hair, and we’re never, ever happy with what we have… until it’s gone.
Cancer shoves so much in our faces – does it have to take our hair, too? I mean, really? Eyebrows… eyelashes… are you kidding me? I looked like an alien in the mirror after I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes! It is our right to rant about this!
But while ranting can be a tremendous release, I’m all about pushing forward. So let’s tackle this together. You have some control over how this is going to play out, whether you want to shave your head during a party with girlfriends or you’d rather let the toxins do the work for you.
Either way, don’t be surprised if you change your mind on how to proceed, and don’t be hard on yourself if that happens.
I was a bit older atr 55 and was 3c epithelial serous and test brca1+ . Yes hair is huge it is our crown and glory. I rocked it with wigs just like you. How are you doing now Sherry. Did you get genetic tested? Me my sister and cousin all ovarian cancer and now 32 year old niece stage 4. You can follow her on FB team julie. God bless the teal sisters!
Kathleen, I’m so sorry about your sister, cousin and now your niece. I will follow her story on Facebook and be praying for her. I am stage 3c epithelial as well. I did the genetic testing and I am BRCA negative. I did have one genetic mutation that hasn’t been identified yet. I used to think my hair was my crown and glory and defined who I was until I lost it. And my eyelashes and eyebrows. Now I know that it’s such a small part of who I am. And that no matter if I have hair or not, my family and friends are just happy I am here to make memories with them. I wish you many more years of health and happiness. xoxo
I have the same diagnosis. You give me hope! I would be interested to know more about your treatment. My first chemo was May 20, Taxol and Cisplatin. I go every 3 weeks.
Hi Carolyn! I had 6 months of Taxol/Cisplatin IV/IP then 12 months of Taxol consolidation therapy once a month! Every women’s OC diagnosis and journey is so different so what works for one sometimes doesn’t work for others! I feel lucky to have been 9 months cancer free so far but I’m always nervous when I go for my blood work every 3 months! I hope you are doing well! xoxo – Sherry
Sherry- Such an incredibly brave post! I too can testify that for Torie, losing her hair was by far the most devastating moment during her cancer journey. It’s through this devastation that you discover who you are, which until then, was simply a reflection of what you looked like. Who you are is so much more than the clothes you wear, the car you drive or the hair on your head. Once Torie realized that she had been given a priceless gift of perspective, she blossomed into the strong, graceful young woman that she became in front of all of our eyes. Thank you Sherry for standing for the vulnerability in the women who are faced with cancer and for showing them that regardless of how they choose to deal with these difficulties, they are courageous beings who have the power to create awareness in efforts to find a cure for cancer through their strength and grace. #toriestrong #sherrystrong.org
Oh my sweet friend, your posts always make me cry. I know how hard it must have been for Torie to lose her hair, especially at her young age. We are so defined by our hair as women and only once you lose it do you realize that your hair means nothing. It’s such a small part of the powerful being we are. Now that I’m rocking my short hair, I feel so empowered. I want to own who I am. Cancer is a part of me. This is who I am. I want other women to know how powerful they are and to feel beautiful no matter what they look like on the outside, eyelashes or no eyelashes. I love you my sweet friend. Thank you for sharing your beautiful daughter with me. I was privileged to know her. xoxo
I went both rough a hysterectomy and beast cancer at about same time. For some reason, the loss of my hair hit me the hardest. Here I was being carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey, with bits and pieces of me going away to research facilities and biohazard bags. The last vestige of my femininity at the time was my hair. But it came back! And I came back from that really dark deep horrible place. When my hair came back, I was basically what I referred to as a calico poodle. I had three colors of hair. So I pick the one that was closest to my pre-cancer hair, and ran with that! Sherry I cannot thank you enough for your nrwletter.
I wasn’t sure when my shoulder plus length hair would fall out (ovarian 3c), one day I got in the shower and it rained hair. It just kept coming out and out, I couldn’t wash it, my hands were full of hair, the bottom of the tub was plastered. And I’d thought cat hair was annoying. Next day my poor hair dresser who knew nothing about my having been diagnosed was asked to shave my head, I felt so bad for her, this stunned, horrified look on her face.
I was told I rocked the bald look, and actually I liked it short. I never wore a wig. The look for a few weeks freaked out people at work, they ran the other direction afraid I’d want to talk about CANCER. Of course that meant I had to get in their face and say “Is it me? How do I look?” Then after awhile “No, you can not rub my head. Back off!”
Me? I was enjoying easy washing hair. No curling or hairspray and I tied the meanest scarf head wraps you could imagine. The draw backs were the stubble grating against everything, like pillow cases. And my head joining my feet in being cold all the time. I don’t know how balding men do it.
No, losing my hair was nothing for me. Now if you want to talk Nuelasta, we can share some horror stories.
I am so mixed up right now. I have stage 111 ovarian cancer also. I had a complete hysterectomy and went through 6 chemo sessions with tatinal. It has been 3 years but found out I have a reoccurrence a mass in the pelvic area. I am beside myself. I pray I can get thru this again. I hope I have a informative Dr. And trying to figure out how I am going to financially survive. I have worked all these years and as all paid insurance, when you finnally need it where are they. Stay strong and I will continue to pray you continue your cancer free journey. Love your up feeling