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Chemo Fall Out

July 19, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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Since every doctor told me that I would lose all my hair, I purchased a wig after my first treatment. Two weeks later I saw little change in my hair, I thought I might be lucky and my hair would only thin, but not totally fall out. One half week later I started to notice stray hairs on my face and body from time to time. When I looked in the mirror, my hair was there but it looked strange. To me it had an otherworldly appearance. I do not remember this from chemotherapy 18 years ago. But I was on different drugs.

My first treatment had been tolerable. There was really no nausea and I had not thrown up which I considered a victory. The worst I had was one night of insomnia, three days of sleepiness from nausea medicine, and a couple days of leg pain after my Neulasta shot. It was a bit uncomfortable but not something that I could not handle. A couple of days after treatment I also found myself quickly falling asleep after supper. But it was manageable.

I went outside sunning with a friend always remembering to put my 50 sun block on. The sun relaxed me and made me feel calm. I also tried to catch a nap in the morning sun which has always been a favorite summer thing.

Wigs and such went out of my mind and I began to concentrate on getting to the next treatment. I started making plans for what I would do after chemo something I had not thought about for a while. Then last Monday after doing my hair, the aide showed me my pick was full of hair. It was three days till my second treatment and my hair was falling out with a vengeance. I felt a chill down my spine. Oh gee, I thought to myself, I really wish this would not have happened. Then I kicked myself for worrying about something as silly as losing my hair. But my hair has been a factor in my life for most of it.

I did not have much time on that day to think about my hair situation. I was getting company and we needed to discuss other matters of importance. We also had a nice Chinese lunch that took my mind off my hair. It was not apparent that I was losing hair in great quantities. But I knew my hair was changing and it did not look like mine.

The next day I lost two more handfuls of hair. I had that aide comb it with a fine-toothed comb to remove loose hair. I told everyone I did not want my hair to fall in my mashed potatoes. I have a thing about hair falling into food that makes me cringe. That afternoon I looked for head coverings online. I had nothing 'hat wise' to cover my head. I quickly ordered a couple of stretchy sleep hats, wig shampoo, and a net to cover my hair under a wig. I also called the facility's beautician to have her shorten my hair. I did not want to worry about it coming out in three-inch pieces.

While she was cutting my hair, my hair was coming out dramatically. My hair had gone from a light golden brown to a washed out blonde. I do color my hair but this was no color we had ever put on. The medicine must have changed it. Overnight I became a shaggy blond with falling, thinning hair.

By chemo day I had even less hair. But the aide made it look good enough for me to go without concern. I did not want it to be falling on my shoulders all day. I secretly wished that I could take clippers in hand and get rid of it. When I saw my oncologist before my treatment, my only complaint was about my falling hair.

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Thank you for your story. I am three days away from my second treatment as well and I support you, sister.

I love your story! I am 3 days away from my 2nd chemo treatment and today had my hair dresser cut my hair short! Your story sounds just like mine!! It's nice to see my thoughts by someone else!

your attitude is soooo good and will carry you a long way

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...