Let’s talk about hair…

We all have some sort of emotional response about our hair. Women possibly more than men. We style it, cut it, shape it, straighten it, curl it, colour it, put it up in a pony tail or bunches, plait it, put it in a bun, let it flow loose and free like a 70’s Harmony advert. It is part of our “look”, our identity even, as they needed to sing about in the 60’s…

For most women, going bald unwillingly can be quite traumatic…

Most of my life, I wasn’t a very girlie girl, so haven’t gone in for a lot of fuss with my hair, but I do love the fact that it’s curly and dark. It feels part of my Jewish identity. Wo betide the hairdresser who suggests straightening it!

When I was very young it was dead straight, then as I went through puberty in the mid-70’s, it conveniently went frizzy, which was great timing for the afro fashion of the day. No need for a perm, just an afro comb and I was good to go.

Later it softened and became curly. I am happy with it, I love my curls and it has been so easy to manage. I could just wash, smoosh with some curl-enhancing product and go. In fact the only reason I have a hair dryer is for artwork and ceramics.

Now with the drugs, unfortunately it’s gone quite flat and lost some of its body. 😦 Also, as I am aging, I notice grey hairs appearing and in particular, a rather elegant flash above my right brow, which I’m starting to really like.

When I was first diagnosed and the initial treatment explained to me, I was told I would have to take chemotherapy tablets, but that it is a very mild dose and would not make my hair fall out and might not even make me sick. This seems to be the case and in fact, the chemotherapy tablets are the least bothersome in terms of side effects of the three heavy drugs I have to take.

BUT… the other week I found out the details of the stem cell collection and transplant, as mentioned in an earlier post. The chemotherapy (Malphalan) that I will receive in hospital is a very high dose and may make me sick and WILL make me lose my hair. 😦 In fact, if the stem cells are not transplanted, it would actually kill me off. So hair loss is really the least of my worries, but nonetheless…

So what to do about it? Well, there are two aspects… one is the hair loss and the other is the re-growth afterwards.

We’re not just talking losing hair on my head… eyelashes, eyebrows, leg hairs and I’m hoping I’ll also lose those annoying dark moustache hairs that I usually need to tweeze. At least that’s one benefit! But I probably won’t lose my pubic hairs it seems. Apparently it’s to do with the different thickness of hair follicles. 😀

I’ve heard from two men who’ve been through it who didn’t lose their eyelashes, so it’s possible I may keep them too, but I’m not holding onto too much hope. Shame though, I did quite fancy the bald-with-long-mascaraed-lashes look.

I even thought about wearing false eye lashes, but the glue could be a problem particularly as I will need to be ultra-careful about any infections. I could also end up looking like an aging drag queen, which probably wouldn’t add anything to my street cred!

           (see what I mean?)

Some people advise cutting the hair short prior to going into hospital, so it’s less distressing when it falls out, which it does in clumps, covering everything – pillows, couches, food, shoulders of clothes and friends even. Not sure I even want short hair all over everything, reminding me at every turn of the effect of the heavy duty poison in my body.

Some advise getting a wig, or even having a number of wigs to ring the changes. My friend Debbie has already offered to come wig shopping with me. She thinks she’s the perfect person for the job and she’s probably right. I’m sure we’d have a laugh.

However, at recent hospital visits, I’ve had plenty of time in the waiting room to view, admittedly older, less fashion/style-conscious women with very obvious wigs (to me at least) and they looked awful. Made me feel quite depressed.

And then there’s the re-growth, which I imagine entails quite a bit of itching. Hmmm… I’m not too keen. Hot, itchy, slipping wig in the summer. I think I’d prefer to invest in some good quality sun screen and moisturiser.

I did hear that you can use something called an ice cap while undergoing the chemo. I don’t know if it’s available for this particular chemo, but I have already decided against it. Apparently you need to use it at exactly the right moment and it may or may not work and it’s uncomfortable. I’m not sold.

I’m thinking a bit more proactively… I don’t actively want to lose my hair, but it’s going to happen, so I want to take a more assertive approach. I don’t want to lose my hair to chemotherapy. I think that might make me feel like a victim. If it’s going to go, then I want to be in charge… Control freak? Hell, yes!!!!!

My thinking is to shave it off before going into hospital. I mentioned this to one friend, who responded with a look of shock, which quite surprised me. I guess we all have our “stuff” around dealing with disease, hair loss and baldness too.

I was thinking of doing it at a gathering… perhaps the 50th birthday party I want to have for my friends at the end of July. But I have been persuaded out of that idea. It might be a bit upsetting for some people – maybe for me too…? And maybe not quite the right mood for a party…?

Also, there is a distinct possibility that by the time I hit 50, it will all be over if things progress as quickly as I think they might. So the birthday celebration may have to wait and be a birthday, life and remission celebration a bit later in the year instead. Well, that will definitely be worth celebrating!

Anyway, of course I got to wondering what I would look like. I mean, I don’t have those fine features, big doe eyes and strong cheek bones that can look so cute with a short cut or going bald. I’m thinking Mia Farrow, Sinead O’Connor, Natalie Portman, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, even Cameron Diaz (but to be honest, she’d look cute with a paper bag over her head!)…



Gorgeous, eh? (Although I did read that Cameron didn’t go bald, but wore a cap – cheat, coward!!! LOL!)

So I’ve been playing around… pulling my hair back severely off my face to wear it in a pony tail or bun at the back.

I even bought some scarves which I’ve not managed to do much with yet. And I had some fun with a silver lamé beret in H&M the other week, but it was a bit big even with hair. Made me think of getting a sparkly swimming cap.

Of course, I won’t really know what I’ll look and feel like till I do it. I suspect I might not look quite so cute, but who needs to be “cute” at 50? I’m thinking maybe more mature like Demi Moore or badass! like Sigourney Weaver… reckon I could live with either of those!


As my blood and urine tests are all showing such positive results, it looks like when I see the consultant in 3 weeks, on 23 May, we will probably have that conversation and maybe even book dates in for the whole procedure to commence. So this is now a lot more relevant and imminent and not a little scary, although I’m hoping that the fun of playing around with a new look may take away some of the fear. Actually, I’m really not fearful about the hair loss… it’s the other stuff. But I’ll deal with that when I get there.

Please feel free to share your own hair/loss experiences and thoughts on baldness.

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4 Responses to Let’s talk about hair…

  1. Maureen Mooney says:

    Yes your hair is lovely..it epitomises you..(a bit thick but bouncy and full of life) but you are just taking a break from each other. I know that in this part of the adventure you will face it with the same crazyness you meet everything else in your life. I think you are absolutely right in taking control of it’s departure… why not sponsor the event and make dosh for charity?
    I’m reminded of the lovely being ‘Wavy Gravy’ who worked as a clown in childrens’ cancer wards and one day they showed a movie (Godzilla) on one of the kid’s heads.
    I love your blog… reaches the parts that others…..
    Mo oxo


  2. Simon Hancox says:

    Echoing Maureen’s comments Jet. Your hair will return eventually, it’s just taking a break for a bit 😉
    Wish mine would do that – bugger.

    I too enjoy reading your blog updates. You really do have a wonderful way with words Jet. Keep it up girl.


  3. My Dad chanted for my hair not to fall out, and there’s still a lot of it there, three months in to treatment. If you really want to keep your hair then I’ll chant for that but maybe that’s not what you want… It’s part of the experience, not knowing what’s going to happen. Part of letting go. Wouldn’t want to deprive you of that. Hope you understand what I mean. Would be good to meet up and talk properly wouldn’t it?
    R x


  4. Wendy Duffield says:

    As I was told I might lose my hair on my particular treatment and even if I didnt lose it then I would lose it when I have my stem cell transplant, I went to a wig shop which supplied NHS wigs with a friend thinking it would be a bit of a laugh but actually I found it a bit depressing. There were no pink curly hair wigs to be seen and I didnt like any of the NHS wigs. I eventually chose one which wasnt too buffuonte (is that the right spelling) but they were all so false. I suppose I just wanted something similar to my own hair style if you can call it a style and colour. The wig hasnt come into the shop yet but as my hair has only thinned abit more I wont need it till the SCT. I cant however imagine wearing it so today I went to see someone at a local cancer support centre about scarves and how to tie them. She also told me how to draw attention away from your hair or lack of it but I think the very fact of wearing a scarf will make it obvious that there is no hair and no stick on fringes or platts of material at the back will disguise it. So as I am not particularly into jewellry or make up, I will probably end up with a baseball cap and hope that my mousy (with grey strands),fine bone straight hair will grow back quickly. I dont want to celebrate or take control over when I lose my hair but I am resigned to it and will probably go for a short crop before I go into hospital. I am not going to look like sinead or demi moore but I will still be me.

    Anyway however you decide to lose your hair I hope you dont stress about it.


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