New Hair Please!!
After the sixth and final round of chemotherapy had come to the end of it’s cycle, I expected the hair to start growing back at a rate of knots.
This of course was not the case. I’d kept the scalp creamed with the Simple range’s moisturiser, and to be fair that’s what I used on the rest of me.
But I became increasingly anxious and frustrated about how slowly my hair was growing.
The Chemo cycle finished middle of July, yet in December for a family wedding, the hair wasn’t long enough to get into a style. Having always had a fringe, and conscious of my mile-high forehead, I needed hair to grow down! But it wasn’t happening. So I wore a matching scarf and I had some lovely comments.
I needed my confidence. It’s fair to say, losing my hair at the time wasn’t the biggest issue for me.
I don’t particularly know why; maybe it’s because the scarves became my accessory.
But it certainly became the biggest issue when treatment finished, it affected my self esteem and confidence. I would stand and get dressed in the morning, look in the mirror and cry.
I didn’t get used to it, and the look was alien to me.
I couldn’t see myself – just this person struggling with her appearance.
The ‘Big Reveal’….?
Not exactly. I did not announce to the world that on a particular day, that I’d no longer wear the scarves and voila here was my luscious locks of lovely hair again! It was definitely a gradual reveal!
Five months post treatment, I went back to an aquafit class. I walked into the sports centre with head-wear….got changed (the scarf the last thing I took off by the locker), I then walked onto the pool side. I was tempted to wear a swimming hat, but knowing how my daughter hated hers for swimming lessons, I decided against it!
There were a few ladies I’d speak to each week, just general chit chat, and a couple of them knew what had been going on and of course hadn’t seen me for so long.
As soon as they saw me they grinned and exclaimed ‘Claire!!!!’ as I got in the pool.
One particular lady just came up to me and gave me the biggest hug ever, and I promptly burst into tears. But it felt good to be back in familiar surroundings. The hair was covering the head, not patchy, just extremely short. I was very self conscious but once the class started I forgot all about it.
At the end of class, I got out the pool, the hair dried in minutes, on went the scarf and out I went! Daft really….
Over the next few weeks, it was only the swimming pool where I managed to get the confidence to show my hair. I just wanted it to grow down! Arrrrrghhh!! I was getting so anxious and down about it I couldn’t bear to look at myself still in the mirror.
Other contributing factors in my life meant I was struggling generally and I ended up being signed off work for a month at the end of January.
During that time, I reached out to professional support networks, which included a Counsellor. She helped me a lot in accepting Cancer and what had happened to me. We talked about why I felt the way I did about my appearance, and how I thought others looked at me.
By the middle of February and during a particularly cold snap of weather in the south, for some mad reason I decided THAT was the week I would venture out more without my pretty scarves!
Trip 1 – Getting in the car and driving up the road to my parents to drop something off. Yes, terrifying stuff we are talking about here… and I felt sick driving through the parade of shops thinking ‘what if someone notices??’. But I did it.
Trip 2 – On a SATURDAY (I know, how brave was I…!) broad daylight….my daughter and I went to the supermarket!! Didn’t bump into anyone, bonus! Tick.
Trip 3 – Monday morning school run – not a problem, eject children from car, no need to get out. Done.
Trip 4 – Meeting a friend that Monday afternoon for a cuppa, then walking up the road to meet the children. THAT I found hard. Why? Because the children who knew mine, spotted me on the other side of the road, and were staring. At one point, I stood partially camouflaged by a telegraph pole to try and hide! My daughter came down the road and shouted out ‘Mum you’re not wearing your scarf!!’ Thank you dear daughter, draw more attention to me why don’t you?!
So that was the start of going places without it. The next huge hurdle for me was walking into work without it. And THAT was making me feel VERY uneasy.
Everyone’s Staring! They’re not actually, Claire…
The day I walked back into the office I…..hold on a moment….let’s cover the bit before that.
The day I drove to the office scarf-less, I sat in the car park for ten minutes, stomach churning, my bum sat firmly in that seat. I didn’t want to go in. I could see someone making a coffee upstairs looking out the window and they’d spotted me. Damn.
So I got my stuff out and walked in through Reception. I few guys looked and said good morning. All normal…
I passed some more people already sat at their desks and they looked up briefly and said good morning. Still all normal…
‘Ok’ I thought…’that’s good’…now lets get into MY office. I walked in and everyone looked up and smiled, said Hi and I walked to my desk. Then I announced out loud ‘no more scarves! This is it now! Dark curly fuzz!’.
Erm…now I’m not sure what possessed me to announce it, having wanted to hide for so long, but it did break the ice as I know others had thought ‘do we say anything, do we just NEVER speak of it??’.
But it was fine, and actually – speaking about it, to various friends at work, it put me at ease AND them.
Grow… grow… GROW…. GROW!!!!
I think it’s fair to say my hair growth was a lot slower than I expected, and speaking to other ladies who had the same treatment as me, looking at various online hair growth pictures, I was constantly comparing.
My hair had returned darker than before, AND it was curly. It was extremely soft, I had to change shampoo and conditioner (actually I didn’t need conditioner – that was a first!), and I had to tame it otherwise it just looked like a head full of fuzz. So shaping cream became my best friend.
Click to see my Hair Growth Timeline