First Chemotherapy – FEC.
I’m not being rude…. FEC – Fluorouracil, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide. Three MASSIVE syringes – one of the F, two of the ‘E’ then the final drug ‘C’ through an IV drip.
Ok they weren’t MASSIVE, but they weren’t like the ones you give medicine to kids from! I felt a bit light headed after all that lot went in, but then headed home.
I was offered the use of the Cold Cap. I’d read a lot about this beforehand but decided that as it wasn’t guaranteed that the hair would be saved, yet brain freeze and headaches WERE guaranteed, I decided this was something I could do without. My pain threshold was appallingly low so I declined (aka chickening out). For me I don’t regret that decision. Some people still lose their hair, some lose 50%, some only lose a little. I knew how I hated headaches and this swayed me to not use it.
So that was Monday, 27 Feb 2017. Now Jump 14 days on.
I ‘strand’ corrected!
By the end of the second week of the chemo cycle, I started to notice a few hairs on my shoulders of my cardigan at work. I wondered if this was just coincidence – you know, the usual amount that comes out and you don’t think anything of it, or was it the start and I was going to wake up with hair all over my pillow, or clumps in the shower. It was the start. And the loss gathered momentum. That Oncologist was right.
For the next week I went to work as normal and every day the lovely ladies in the office would sort my shoulders out, clearing the constant strands (I did ask them to do this by the way – they didn’t just keep touching me!). When I washed my hair in the shower I’d get small amounts come away in my hands. I tried not to brush it vigorously, or wash it too much in the end, thinking it would delay or stop the inevitable. But of course that failed.
Everywhere I looked around the house, there were strands. However rather than clumps, it was thinning out from underneath first. So actually the shape, remained.
Towards the end of the third week of the chemo cycle, I was struggling to style my hair for work and could see it was receding on top.
It happened so quickly!
I didn’t expect this amount of hair loss after ONE cycle of chemotherapy.
That weekend (with cycle 2 of FEC due on the Monday) I went to the hair dressers and asked them to cut it all short for me and it really showed how much had come out. I could see my scalp through what was left.
That was it – the scarves I’d bought in readiness, came out. By this stage too, my scalp was sore. It hurt to brush it, wash it, touch it.
In 7 days my hair had gone from being thick and full, to thin and wispy and I looked like an old lady.
I felt horrible. Unattractive. I now looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself.
The scalp pain got worse. Even though most of the hair had gone, it was so sore still. The next day I had round two of Chemo. Chatting to the nurse, I mentioned how sore my scalp was.
She pulled the curtain round, called in the Senior nurse and they checked it out for me. I had something similar to Cradle Cap babies get, and the fact it was so sore, they said the best thing for me to do… was to shave the rest off.
I burst into tears.
Braving the Shave
The thought of shaving the remaining strands off upset me more than it coming out in my hands. I went home after the hospital, and that evening I sat in a chair in the kitchen, my Husband got the clippers, and off it came.
Grade 1 all over.
I cried continually.
It felt weird. I looked weird.
But the scalp pain had gone! Completely gone!
The chemotherapy affects the hair follicles within the scalp and the weight of the strands naturally pulling on them is what causes the pain.
Shave them off – the pain goes. It was such a relief.
Next: A New Look