I knew it was coming and yesterday it happened... my hair is starting to fall out.
The chemo drugs kill cells that divide rapidly, which is one of the main characteristics of cancer cells, but it can't tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy cells. So, it also ends up killing healthy cells that divide rapidly, like those that make up hair follicles.
My Chemotherapy and You book says that hair loss starts 2 to 3 weeks after the first treatment (it has been 2.5 weeks) and that when it starts it can be either a little at a time or in clumps. Luckily, my hair seems to be taking the "little at a time" route.
I first noticed it in the shower... when I ran my hands through my hair, my hands were covered in strands, and by the end of my shower there was about 5 times more hair in the drain than normal. Of course it was upsetting, but I didn't scream or freak out. Instead, I was almost afraid to wash my hair for fear that the more I touched my hair, the more that would come out, and I needed my hair for at least one more day because I didn't yet have a wig!
I didn't need to worry about going completely bald right then and there, though, because while I did lose a lot more than usual during my shower, my hair still looks the same - you can't tell that I've lost any (yet). I'm not sure if this is because my hair decided to take the slow route out or if it's because my hair is really thick, so losing a bunch is less noticeable, but either way I am glad!
The book also said that my scalp may hurt at first, before my hair starts falling out. The day before, I started to notice that when I touched my hair, it felt a little stiff at the root - like when you first take out the rubberband after your hair has been in a tight ponytail for awhile. It still feels like this and it's been a little itchy the last few days too.
This morning, I lost about the same amount in the shower as I did yesterday, but it's still not noticeable. My book says that it "takes about 1 week for all your hair to fall out." So we will see...
Coincidentally, the day that I started losing my hair turned out to be the same day that I was going wig shopping!
My friend Amanda picked me up and we drove into the city, parked, and walked a block or so to Macy's Herald Square. Yes, Macy's. No, I had no idea they had wigs either, but they do.
We took the rickety wooden escalators all the way up to the 9th floor where after walking through the furniture department and, oddly enough, a display of electric razors, we found the Wig Salon.
The lady told us to look around, pick out a few we liked, and then she would help me try them on. It was like picking out shoes! She told us to look for the styles we liked, and not necessarily the color, since most of the wigs came in several colors. I had been advised to get a synthetic wig (as opposed to human hair) because they are not as hot (and as a bonus, usually less expensive), and I was also told to look for "monofilament." This means that the top of the wig is made with a material that resembles scalp, so that it looks more natural through the part.
I was a little disappointed that all the wigs were pretty normal-looking, and there weren't any funky Lady Gaga-type ones to try for fun, but Amanda and I found a few we liked.
First, I had to have a wig cap put on, to hold my hair in place (obviously I won't need this when I am bald). And then the trying on started!
This one was cute, but Amanda thought it made me look older than I am, so it was vetoed.
We picked this one out because it was the closest style to my regular hair (before I got it cut) they had. It was full on top but not underneath, plus I know how hard it is to maintain curls and I was afraid it would easily get matted and tangly. So this one was a no-go.
Next, I thought I'd see what I looked like as a blonde. It was a bit shocking to say the least - so different from my normal look! I liked the style but it was a little thin on the bottom. I have since made this my Facebook profile pic, and I have gotten so many compliments that now I kind of want a blonde wig just for fun. So I might have to see if I can find an inexpensive one at a costume store!
This one... just wasn't right for some reason. Not exactly sure why, but it just wasn't.
Next, I tried on this one... I loved the style - it was similar to the blonde one above, but thicker. The jet-black color was interesting, but I asked if they had it in a color closer to my own hair, and luckily they did!
This was a winner! I was sold, but I still had a couple others to try.
I really liked this short 'do, because it reminded me of what my current cut might look like if my hair was straight and a little longer.
Here's a side view (that's the tag hanging off it):
Now I was torn between the long and the short one... so I decided to get both! Just to be sure I had the RIGHT short cut though, I tried on one last wig for good measure.
Yeah, I think I got it right the first time!
So, my final decision was made and the lady packaged my wigs (they come in boxes just like shoe boxes) and I was good to go.
I started out the day losing my hair, but ended it with two new hairstyles ready to go. I'm kind of excited to try out my new looks!