Hair loss is synonymous with cancer treatment and from experience, having a mum who has gone through chemotherapy, I have seen the effects it can have on a person. Straight away, through hair loss, in the eyes of a stranger you are reduced to a cancer patient. What before was perhaps a quiet, even hidden, aspect of your life, swallows you whole and you are transformed from a living, breathing, multi-dimensional character with quirks and personality to, on first appearances, a hairless, sickly victim of dreaded cancer.
I know I have hardly kept my cancer quiet, in fact I have pretty much screamed it from the rooftops so that everyone has to pay me attention, and so the part about hair loss putting the word out there doesn’t really apply. But my hair loss will still mean that cancer is the first thing people will think when they see me. Whereas before people knew, but may not have felt the need to ask me about it, I wonder whether this hair loss will make cancer the big, bald elephant in the room. I think sometimes people feel awkward asking me about it, but they also feel awkward not asking me about it; maybe this will increase things towards the latter.
(In case that seemed like a hint, I really don’t mind whether you want to talk about it with me or not; I have in a way started the conversation with this blog and it is something I feel comfortable talking about, but on the flip side if you ask me about it and I’m really not having a good day, then I do reserve the right to not talk about it. I also appreciate some people do not want to talk about it, it may make people uncomfortable, in which case not speaking about it is fine too!)
Overall, I do not know how I will react to my hair loss. Some part of me thinks that, yes, perhaps I will feel like the above, self conscious and sickly, but another, probably larger, part of me doesn’t feel all that assed. I have had the occasional moment where I have tried on a head scarf and thought Jesus, I look like I should be in a bathtub or like Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter, but I think that is to be expected. A meltdown every so often is, to me, not particularly indicative of fear; I freak about plenty of things that I am worried about in that moment, but then often I am shortly distracted by something else and it goes away.
Who knows exactly how I will react? I might have a good idea, but I have definitely miscalculated before. Either way, freak out or no freak out, I have decided to take this hair loss into my own hands. Or more to the point, I placed my hair, still firmly attached to my head at this point, into the highly skilled and generous hands of the hairdressers at Headmasters in Surbiton, who so kindly offered to colour and cut my hair, free of charge, to transform me from a brunette into a blonde bombshell.
And transform me they did! Yesterday I had a day of pampering at the salon, where my fabulous cousin, Lucy, and her brilliant manager, Sian spent a good few hours bleaching, bleaching and well, bleaching. Basically, there was a lot of bleach.
Going light is something I have always wanted to do, but I have been put off by the knowledge that it would absolutely destroy my hair. Luckily for me I got cancer and so this hair thing worked out quite well. I feel like I have been able to turn something negative, some loss, into a positive. I have been able to do something I have always wanted to do but never would have done if I was to keep my hair. This idea of turning my loss into my gain and taking control is something I have tried to continue throughout this treatment. I have created this blog, I have invested (heavily!) in headscarves, I have dyed my hair a fabulous colour, I have bought new lipsticks and an eyebrow brush with the excuse that it will detract from the baldness. I also keep shouting CARPE DIEM whenever I want to buy or do something I know I shouldn’t.
Headmasters helped me find the biggest positive in all this though, and they also gave me a chance to stop and think of myself. Whilst I have been going through treatment and the past months have been focused on nothing but myself, it has constantly been myself in relation to cancer; cancer is the focus, I am the backdrop. Yesterday was all about me, just me, and it was brilliant to know that for the day cancer was in the shadows, my understudy, gone.
So here is some piccies and the lowdown on the hair!
Originally we were aiming for silver, an aim that I knew was probably achievable because of my darkish natural colour, and all the different dyes on the ends of my hair. I had braced myself for the moment when I would be told silver was a no go, but Headmasters were amazing and told me that although it was extremely unlikely they could do it, they were going to give it a shot and that we would go from there. It was nice to be told that and when grey was unachievable there was no disappointment in me at all. Honestly, they were so amazing and had made me feel so special, without also making me feel like it was some big deal or some cancer perk that had landed me there, that I was having an absolute ball and would have been happy with any colour really. Plus I trusted them to land me another fab colour because I could see they were completely intent on getting me something special.
All in all it took a big bleach job and then bleach bath after bleach bath. My head was just a tad stingy and pink by the end, but you know how it is – you’ve got to suffer for fashion. After the dye was complete they cut it for me and kinked it, so I left feeling very Marilyn (although luckily for everyone in Surbiton I wasn’t wearing a skirt and there was no gusts of wind from the subway that day).
It was the best day I have had in absolutely ages and I want to say the most enormous thank you to Headmasters, and particularly to Sian and Lucy. They made more of a difference than they can know, not just to my hair but my mindset and sense of self worth. This may sound over dramatic but going to appointment after appointment has been wearing me down, and at some point it is hard to find that sense of you when all you are ever focused on is getting better. For the past three weeks, this egg harvest has been about future me. Yesterday was about me right now, and I can say without a doubt that me right now is absolutely ecstatic with my hair! So thank you!
Today chemo starts and I will be doing a post on that, about my feelings and how it actually measured up to my expectations, in a few days. For now let us remember to do something that is truly for ourselves every so often, and bask in the soft peachy blonde glow of my new hair, that will remain safely on my head for three weeks (hopefully)!