Hair: Before, During and After Chemo

I am going to start this off by saying I am no expert when it comes to hair or lack of. These are just things I have learned along the way that I would like to share with you all. People that know me may laugh at this post because I can sometimes barely brush my hair. But I have come a long way in my 32 years and I can now proudly say that I can curl my hair with a curling iron and straighten it with a straightening iron all by myself ๐Ÿ™‚ That is saying a lot for little old me.
This wouldn’t be right if I didn’t begin with the story of how my hair became a messed up, frizzy rat’s nest. It was the fifth grade and in fifth grade everyone wants to be cool. Middle school is coming and you actually care about what you are wearing. (For me anyway, I know now a days kids care what they are wearing in kindergarten) Anyway, the perm was in and I wanted one. Horrible, horrible decision. I was told that after the perm I could only use a pick. Well that didn’t go very well and we ended up brushing the whole thing out. Worst. Idea. Ever. It looked better snarly. Now I was left with a frizzy Afro. Not cool on a fifth grade girl in Wisco. It took years of bad haircuts and product to get it to its natural state. When I say bad haircuts I mean baaaad. I looked like a Amish boy my senior year. Of course I had the haircut for my senior pictures. Oh and the school I went to displays everyone’s senior pics by class in the hallway. Great. I am sure everyone is like “Who is that Amish boy with lipstick on?” Oh yeah I forgot I was wearing a gingham top. Good gosh I am surprised I didn’t have a horse or a pitchfork as a prop. I mentioned before that my hair was kinda my thing before I lost it. It definitely was but it took some time, lots of product and work to get there.
When I started chemo I was lost in the world of wigs and scarves. I hope this helps anyone who is looking for wigs, scarves etc. I have touched on this in a previous post (Chemo AKA Rat Poison) but I want to go more in-depth on the wigs and scarves I received and some tips and tricks I learned. First things first; get yourself a nice hat. I will post pics but the pink one that you can see below is my fave. It is light so you don’t get warm wearing it in the house. When husband shaved my head my scalp was very sensitive and I would wear that hat to bed. It literally hurt to put my head on the pillow. Even if you are brave and go out without a hat I would still get one because it does get cold. I know I would have showed off my head a lot more if I wouldn’t have been left with gray stubble. Kinda weird to think that after my head was shave the thing that kept me from showing it off was my gray. Now that I think about it I wish I would have just went out and about with my bald self. The next item on my list is some good scarves. I so wish I would have gotten more. The most special to me that I did receive was one from a wonderful little organization called Good Wishes. You can find them at http://www.goodwishesscarves.org The clinic where I received my chemo got me hooked up with them. I can’t say enough about this wonderful organization. They provide one free wrap or scarf to anyone experiencing hair loss or thinning hair due to illness or treatment. You pick three different fabrics and they send you whichever one that is available the fastest. They are very nice and fashionable. Of course I got black because you know how I feel about black; black is slimming even when it is your head ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think the very best part about this is when you receive your scarf or wrap you also get a card signed by people who work for Good Wishes! It is awesome! They also have a wall of hope in their office that has everyone’ names, city, date sent and scarf number on plaquards’s. (I just found that out today) When you sign up for a scarf or wrap you tell a little bit of your story so they know a little bit about you. The card is so special to me still. All of the encouraging words were and still are much appreciated. I started looking in my special card box so I could take a pic of it but I can’t find it and looking in my card box started a cry fest so I had to quit for now. I save all cards that are given to us starting with my bridal shower so there is a lot of stuff in there. I received my special card box as a present at my bridal shower from my bestie’s mom. She said when she saw the box “It looked like me” So of course I had to keep it and put special things in it ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway back on task. The last thing I want to talk about is wigs. I have two. One was given to me by the American Cancer Society. It is a nice wig but a little itchy. The second my dad got me for Christmas from http://www.wigs.com; Wonderful wig, it is long and beautiful. It is not real hair but feels close to it. When you do get a wig I suggest getting a cap to wear underneath. Wigs can be itchy and hot and a cap helps. I would also get a conditioner for your wig as well as shampoo. I got the shampoo but not the conditioner. I think I kinda ruined my wigs because they do get snarly and I didn’t have conditioner. I was definitely lost in wig world. I did get some help from a dear friend of mine who wears wigs quite a bit. She was so helpful on what wigs were good and so on.

After chemo I had to wait one month to dye my hair. I went blonde. I guess my thinking was I didn’t want to go brunette because I was left with some stubble and I thought if I went brunette right away my hair would by like “Boom here I am.” Since I am completely gray I had to do something. I know gray is not that bad but I am a little sour about it. “Bitter table for one.” My hair came back completely crazy. It is frizzy and very curly. Some kind of cruel joke is all I can come up with but it’s hair so I will take it. Last night I went to the salon to get my hair dyed. It got me thinking about all of the products I use now and products I used before that I still love and use. They also straightened my hair for me. A major task before I lost my hair and an even bigger one now. I was introduced to this magic brush called the Wet Brush. This brush is wonderful. I have very snarly hair and so does Avery and this thing plowed through my hair like a boss. Usually when I brush my hair you hear lots of ouches, bristles breaking and hair flying everywhere. I picked up a wet brush for me and Avery to share. I want to share a couple other products that work for me and I love and then I promise I will be done. The first has been with me for a long time it is Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam or as I like to call it mousse. It is worth the money ten times over. I have tried multiple products and I always come back to this one. It works like a charm and smells awesome! The next is Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat leave in conditioner. Awesome product; I have been using it for a long time and it has never let me down. Another product from Paul Mitchell that I love is Awapuhi Wild Ginger styling treatment oil. I use it when I straighten my hair. Put it on when your hair is wet. You really don’t have to use a lot so it lasts a long time. Last but not least is the hairspray I use. Again it is Paul Mitchell. It’s their Fast-styling sculpting spray. I really like it and it doesn’t make my hair really crunchy. I kinda have to use hairspray now with my mousse because of the way my hair is now. I will post pics of the products I talked about so you can all see what they look like. I also have some pics from my hair straightening process last night ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. I am far from a professional or even good photographer but it’s the best I can do with my camera phone since my cameras pooped out on me so bear with me. I am hoping the tax return fairy bring me a new camera ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry about the format of this post. It’s all messed up because I accidentally deleted it and then had to find it again and blah blah blah bad morning.

P.P.S. I got nothin’ I just always wanted to do a p.p.s. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Hair in progress ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sorry guy in back round that I can’t get out of the pic
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Hair after straightening ๐Ÿ˜€
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Back of hair! I had personal trainer take this pic. I think it definitely cemented for him that he has a weird child ๐Ÿ˜‰
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All of my fave products!!
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From left to right: Wig I got from the American Cancer Society, Good Wishes scarf, cap for underneath wigs and pink hat I loved ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Chemo aka rat poison

Chemo sucks. I hated it and still have very strong feelings of dislike for it. I am not even sure where to start on the long list of reasons why it sucks. Yes it did help save my life, I will give it that but that’s it. I am 100% positive that anyone that has had chemo or knows someone who has will agree with me. A little history on my chemo; my “cocktail” consisted ofย  Cisplatin and Etoposide. I had chemo every three weeks, three times a week for four months. The day after chemo I would go back and get a shot of Pegfilgrastim which helps your body make more white blood cells.

First reason I hate it is because you feel like dog shit. Sorry for the swearing but chemo deserves a swear word. It feels like you have the flu x 100 all of the time. After a couple of days out from a round of chemo you start to feel a smidgen better but then it’s usually time for more. I also had a lot of soreness. Everything hurt from my limbs to what little hair I had on the top of my head. Yes my hair hurt, well I guess it was more like my scalp but whatever. One of the nurses compared it to having fibromyalgia. Those of you that have that I totally feel for you. It sucks. I was pretty much forced to pretend I felt okay because I had a little that needed attention and to be fed every three hours. But there was one day that I literally could not get off of the couch. Thank God my husband was home because I don’t know what I would have done without him that day.ย  I was supposed to go and get my shot for my white blood cell count but we were in the midst of a snow storm so I had to reschedule. It was the day after my third round of chemo so I was feeling crappy anyway.ย  I am not even sure how long I slept that day I just laid on the couch in and out of consciousness. I remember one of the times I did get up and it literally hurt to walk to the bathroom. I am still a little sore and depending on the weather I still have some bad days but I am so glad that I am not in as much pain as I was during chemo.

Another little wonderful thing that happened to me was I did have some hearing loss. I can thank the Cisplatin for that. I started having some ringing in my ears during chemo and that is a side effect of Cisplatin. I did get the amount of Cisplatin I was receiving reduced by 10% and it took care of the ringing. The hearing loss is not severe at all I mostly have a problem hearing someone talking to me if we are in a large crowd. (Which probably happens to a lot of people) It is kind of comical to listen to my husband and I when we go to a restaurant because he also has a hard time hearing in crowds.

The last reason is the most obvious. The hair loss. I know I will probably sound vain but that was the hardest part. I tear up thinking about it even now. My hair was kinda my “thing” I am not a size two and I don’t have a gorgeous face but my hair kicked some serious butt. It was long, thick and beautiful. I could curl it and straighten it and it looked good both ways. People would always say to me “People pay a lot of money to have their hair look like yours.” When those luscious locks started to fall out I had a small mental breakdown. I think some of it was it kind of cemented to me that yes, I did have cancer. By looking at me before my hair loss people probably just thought I was sick with the flu or something. But now everyone would now. They do make some great wigs but I couldn’t afford them. I did receive a free wig from the American Cancer Society and my dad bought me one for Christmas. Some people told me I should just shave my head right away so I wouldn’t have to go through losing it. I wish I would have listened. When you have cancer you lose control of a lot of things. Your whole life is based around surgeries, chemo and other treatment. Your hair falls out, your body hurts and you feel like crap. So to have some control and be in the driver’s seat again is a good feeling. When my hair started to fall out it ended up getting tangled in my other hair so I looked like I had a rat’s nest on my head. So one day I decided I was going to cut it shorter and donate it. So I did and then two days later my husband shaved my head. I will never forget that night. I went to take a shower and I could barely wash my hair. There was just gobs and gobs of hair all over the shower. After a cry fest in the shower I decided I had enough; I wanted to be in control. I got out of the shower and told my husband tonight was the night. He kept asking me if I was sure because he knew how much I loved my hair. I told him I was more than sure because I knew I could not have another shower like that again. So the shaving began. First I had to see what I would look like with bangs. I had never had them before and I discovered why that night. Then I gave myself a mullet. I kinda wish I would have taken pictures of my different hairstyles ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then it was shaving time. My husband shaved my head for me and finally I was in control. (Well technically he was in the driver’s seat cause he had the clippers) I was so glad I did it! No more hair falling out. A couple of days later he shaved his own head and so did my dad. I wish we would have taken a picture together.

After my hair was gone I got to enter the wide world of hats, scarves and wigs. Kind of a cool world; there are so many different colors and styles. I also realized something; I was okay with looking like a cancer patient. My hair was gone and there was nothing I could do about it but that was okay because I was still here; ready to raise my daughter and spend time with my friends and family. To all of the people out there that have lost their hair due to cancer or something else I admire each and every one of you. It is hard to step outside with no hair everyday and walk around on this earth. I wish I would have done it more. Looking back I wish I would have taken more pictures and just plain went out of my house without a wig. If you are in the process of losing your hair or you have lost it don’t be embarrassed.ย  You are beautiful and if you have the guts to show off that beautiful bald head you are awesome in my book!!

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One of my wigs.
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Hair starting to come back ๐Ÿ™‚
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The only pic I can find with my bald head. As you can see what I did have left was gray.