Nothing ever prepares you to the clogged shower drains or the strands of hair in your food.
It’s another side-effect of cancer that I have no control over, whatsoever.
Quite simply, losing my hair is heart-breaking.
I want to punch everyone who says it will grow back.
The day came. It felt right.
I wasn’t exactly ready, but if I hadn’t have done it that Sunday night, Sunday the 8th of November, I’m not sure I would ever have done it.
All the thinking about it made it 10 times worse. I had severe anxiety at the thought of shaving off my hair from the beginning of treatment, and I kept putting it off. But, that night I stood up to myself, and I was brave.
My mindset was that if I made the decision when to shave, I was in control. To me, shaving my hair meant that I was getting rid of one of the last bits of lymphoma on and in my body. Then, new hair would grow. It would be a new start: nothing would be stopping me now.
We had just finished a Sunday roast cooked by my mum, all the dishes were in the dishwasher and I felt completely and utterly on eggshells. I’ve been putting myself under so much pressure to shave my hair, but haven’t been able to do it. Losing my hair is something I have dealt with… to a certain extent, but being completely bald scared me SHITLESS.
I knew from the beginning that hair loss was inevitable, but like everything else I kept pushing it to the back of my mind. Losing my hair was what scared me the most, which seems stupid when you think about the fact that I have this terrible, life-threatening illness.
It seems completely ridiculous but hair really does define a person. Humans are much the same in terms of having eyes, a nose, lips, ears, two arms, two legs; hair differentiates us. Everybody’s hair colour, style or texture is ever-so-slightly different. My thick curls, uneven fringe and my knotty knots made me, me. I never brushed it, I just let it sit in a bun on the top of my head but for special occasions I would let it down.
Thinking about losing my hair made me anxious, especially to go out in public without hair at all because one day I would be bald. What would people think? What will they say? I won’t be able to go out without people talking, pointing and pitying. People like to pity bald people. And people with cancer. As long as I have hair, only people closest to me can know I’m ill. Hair loss makes the cancer obvious to everyone.
I used to dread the whispers. That girl has no hair. That girl must be ill. That girl has cancer.
Right at the beginning of my treatment, I got talking to one of my closest friend’s friend, who has alopecia so he’s lost most of his hair and is one of the loveliest guys ever. We got talking about my illness and losing hair and he just said, “don’t think about anybody else, be confident in your own skin and it won’t matter that you have hair or not.”
I don’t think he will ever know how much his advice helped me to see things in a different light.
And it’s true. If you are confident in yourself, other people shouldn’t care if you’re bald or have a lion’s mane.
Even more than that though, I have the confidence to fight cancer and my baldness is a sign of my strength and that I am a fighter. If people want to talk, let them – why should I let them bring me down?
So I with this in mind, I became in control.
I went to get the shaver, my wig and towels from upstairs. I sobbed, and I talk myself out of it but I didn’t.
“Don’t do it if you’re not ready”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“You can carry on as you are, let it fall out.”
I was doing it – right then and there. That was my mindset. I forced myself to go through with it.
I sat in the middle of the kitchen sobbing my eyes out whilst my boyfriend shaved my hair with the razor and my mother used the scissors to cut my hair because it was too thick to go through the razor at the beginning. Both of them were trying to comfort me, but there was nothing that could ease the pain.
You would never have thought it, but it was painful. Obviously it was not a physical pain, but a pain that hits you straight in the heart. I sat in the chair for a good half an hour. I can’t really remember what I thought about. I just cried and it was completely unapologetic. I needed to cry. I needed to let it all out.
I looked at my hair on the floor. I was distraught, but like I said, it was dead hair. It was no longer my hair when I looked in the mirror or reached up to it, it was just tufts that were more and more of a burden.
Shaving my hair off was another step forward, a step into a cancer-free life.
My mother took my photo. I didn’t look at it, but when I was ready I was going to look at it. I wanted the photo to look back. To look back at how strong I was when I’ve conquered this and have a head full of curls once again.
“You’re still beautiful.”
I seriously saw another side to my boyfriend that night. An emotional side. A non-jokey, considerate side. He took hold of me in his arms and said that everything was going to be ok, it was only hair and it was going to grow back. For once he talked sense and I believed him.
That was all I needed. It made everything ok again. It was only hair. And it will grow back.
I went to the shower, poured way too much shampoo for my stubble and washed my tears away. I basically have a head full of what resembles pubic hair, but I have an amazingly stunning wig to wear, so who cares?
I put on my wig, went down stairs. I had hair. I felt good. I even felt confident.
I am in control.