BREAST CANCER/CHEMOTHERAPY’S SIDE EFFECTS: HAIR LOSS.

Many women find that losing their hair from chemotherapy is the most disturbing thing that happens. (Talk with your oncologist about what to expect from your chemotherapy. Not all the drugs used cause the same degree of hair loss.) You should go to see someone who sells wigs while you still have your own hair so that there will be the best chance for a good match of color, texture, and style. Of course you may decide that you want to deal with hair loss by using hats, scarves, turbans, or a combination of all of these. Even when you are told that hair loss may or is likely to happen to you, it is still traumatic. Since this may begin to happen within the first three weeks of treatment, you will want to think about this as soon as you can. If you have a close friend or family member who can go with you to look at wigs, plan to go with her. As you decide on the type of wig to purchase, bear in mind that a synthetic or mixed fiber wig is not only less expensive but is also lighter, cooler, and more comfortable to wear.

Your doctor or nurse can give you an accurate guess as to when you might lose your hair. It is very predictable and depends on what chemotherapy drugs you are receiving. Some women find that their scalp becomes quite sore or tender a few days before the hair loss begins. This may not happen to you, but if it does, consider it a forty-eight-hour warning.

There is no way to make the actual experience of losing your hair anything less than a crisis. As hard as this is to imagine, it will be easier to bear once the hair is gone. The anticipation of the loss and the actual process of losing it are the worst. One strategy for when your hair begins to go is often very helpful for many people. You will know with certainty when this is happening; if you are wondering whether your hair is coming out, it is not. If you can muster the courage and determination to do so, consider having your hair buzzed and/or your head shaved. Many women find that their hairdresser is more than willing to meet them before or after hours at the salon or even to come to their home to do this. Your husband/friend/partner could also provide this service to you. Taking it off, all of it, puts you in control and gets you through it as quickly as possible. Once the hair is gone, you will start to adjust to your new bald head.

One woman whose hair came out in the early spring was enormously helped by her husband’s tender suggestion of putting clumps of hair in and near the bushes and trees in their yard. He said that birds would use the hair to build their nests, and this turned out to be true. In the fall, when the leaves were gone and the nests visible, she found several empty nests warmly and softly lined with her hair.

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April 2, 2009 · Posted in Women's Health  
    

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