Cancer And Hair Loss I used to have the longest hair of any woman I have ever known. It was auburn, and fell past my rear in simple waves that everyone coveted and always wanted to stroke. I didn’t mind. I lived off their envy. So many people were raised to not have long hair, because either their parents didn’t want to deal with it or because society said men shouldn’t have long hair. For me, my hair was a huge part of my identity.
Yet I can still remember the day the doctor told me I had breast cancer. You would think I would be terrified over, well, cancer. But in truth the thing I dreaded the most about chemo wasn’t the getting sick part, or feeling like a mess in the hospital. No, it was the loss of my hair. I dreaded it more than I dreaded dying from breast cancer.
It happened. After the second round of chemo, my auburn locks started falling out in chunks. I was depressed for days. I wouldn’t let anyone touch my hair in fear of watching more of it waste away. I felt like my body was revolting against me. I would’ve rather lost my breasts than lose my hair. Does that sound crazy? Many people would say that I could regrow my hair, but I could not regrow my breasts. It wasn’t like that. I knew that any hair I grew after that would not come back the way it was. I would never have my locks again.
In the end, my cancer was gone, and so was my hair. People called me a survivor and invented me to attend events as a guest of honor. But I didn’t go. I couldn’t be seen without my hair. Sure, people gave me beautiful bandanas to wear on my head, and people suggested we go wig shopping together, but they were all reminders of what I had lost. I would stare at my bald head in the mirror and will my hair to grow back. It never did. The doctor recommended ways to make it grow back, but none of them worked, of course. I had no idea what to do. No matter what I did, my hair would not return for a very long time.
One day my best friend couldn’t take it any more. She forced me to get up and go with her to a wig shop. It was as dreadful as I anticipated. The shopkeepers pitied me and offered me discounts on the nicer wigs. But none of them suited me. They were scratchy, the wrong color, or the wrong style. I didn’t care enough for any of them. Finally, they took me into the back.
There, on a pedestal, was a wig made out of my hair.
It was only a bob cut, but it was my hair! My friend said she had salvaged a lot of my hair and had it turned into a wig just for me. It had taken a while for it to be made, but now it was, and now I had my hair back. I tried it on. It was not a cut I would choose for myself, but it was a part of me, returned.
I felt whole again.