A year-and-a-half ago I started chemotherapy, and one of the first things people think about when they hear the word “chemo” is hair loss. When I learned I would be losing my hair, I Googled like a madwoman to figure out how to cope. I didn’t want to look sick–mostly because I’m vain, and I didn’t want people to feel bad for me.
During my crazy late-night research I learned about wigs, cold cap therapy, scarves, and hats. Below is a photographic journey of my style ups and downs throughout cancer treatment. I hope this helps someone out there on the Internet.
What’s interesting about these pictures is that, cancer aside, they remind me of life in general. Sometimes I look happy and rested. Other times I look exhausted (I usually had 2-3 super-tired days after chemo treatments). Sometimes I look like a total nerd.
I apologize for the absence of bald photos–I only found one, and it was really blurry.*
*Also, see “vanity,” above.
Can you feel the resignation? I took this picture when I was newly-diagnosed. I was about to leave the house for one of several doctor’s appointments to figure out the best treatment plan.
Get busy living.
My dear friend Christy went with me to chop my hair off to ease the transition. This is the “before” pic…
…and this is the after.
After the first or second round of chemo my hair started to fall out, so I just went super-short.
“The Peggy.” A sweet family member paid for this wig. A co-worker said it made me look like my name should be “Peggy,” which is hilarious because I have an aunt named Peggy, and occasionally people say we look alike. Aunt Peggy also helped me constantly throughout treatment. She is a medical genius, and I was so glad to have her on the team.
Also, a dear friend’s daughter made me that pony bead necklace, so, yeah. I was like, “Where’s the mall? I need to rock my new look.”
I wanted to wear the wig sometimes–mostly to work–because it kept me warm despite frigid summer office building air conditioning (!!!) and because it helped me blend in if I didn’t want to be the center of attention.
One time at Starbucks a woman stopped me and asked all about my haircut and whether or not this was my natural color. I thought about dropping the the word “cancer,” but then I just said, “Thank you so much! And no, it’s not my natural color–dyed it.”
August – September 2016
I got a few long, breathable scarves from suburbanturban.com, which is a great site. A friend sent me a beautiful one in the mail, too. It took me a couple of times to tie them, but on a hot day, summery scarves often felt better than a hot wig.
Okay, so, this picture with my friend Dawn made me realize I needed help. My eyebrows and eyelids were disappearing fast…
…so one day after a chemo appointment my friend Laura and I went to Sephora and got some reserves.
Why do the boys look so unhappy? We’re at the PUMPKIN PATCH, guys!
Another suburbanturban.com purchase. Also, I remember on this particular day I thought my eyebrows looked smokin’ in this picture (it’s a trick!), and then I got to work and realized they didn’t look natural at all. Sigh.
Pretty typical around-the-house look. At this point chemo was making my eyes really dry, and I couldn’t wear contacts.
My friend and fellow survivor Rebecca lent me this wig, and this was the first day I took it for a spin. This was also the day for which I had planned a pink t-shirt as part of my outfit because I thought we were going to have a female president. At 3 a.m. I went to the bathroom and checked the news. It’s Trump, said the headline.
Rocking my Ironman Hayes t-shirt and a Seeberger hat from suburbanturban.com. Seeberger hats are so warm, and they’re incredibly high-quality. Seeberger sells gorgeous hats for normal circumstances too–much more stylish than what you see here.
People started getting sick. My white blood cell counts were super-low. Out came the surgical face masks.
Christmas! Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go!
Rallying for a dear friend’s wedding.
We enjoyed an unseasonably warm day when all of us were home and my first surgery was right around the corner.
My hair started growing back–gray?
OUCH. I took my first trip out of bed after “the big surgery” and gave myself a little makeover in the bathroom.
When I had enough hair, we cut off the chemo-fried bits and dyed the rest.
The dye faded, and my hair returned to its natural color. At this point, I was rocking a legit mom haircut.
Heading to the Susan G. Komen Luncheon. Bobby pins helped.
This is basically my current situation. On a good day.
To read more about cancer-related hair drama, check out this post from August 2016.
To start at the beginning of this cancer journey, check out this one from June 2016.
Breast cancer and chemotherapy
Took away her crownin’ glory
She promised God if she was to survive
She would enjoy every day of her life, oh
On national television
Her diamond eyes are sparkling
Bald-headed like a full moon shining
Singing out to the whole wide world like, hey
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
Lyrics from I Am Not My Hair by India.Arie. India Arie was inspired to write the verse with “On national television/Her diamond eyes are sparkling…” after seeing Melissa Etheridge perform on the Grammy Awards bald from chemotherapy cancer treatments.