Sunday, 7 September 2014

Getting wiggy with it

The chemotherapy drugs given to treat breast cancer make you lose your hair. Yes folks, they don’t use the same drugs to treat every single type of cancer! The thought of losing my hair terrifies me. Sounds stupid doesn't it in the midst of everything else I am dealing with, but I definitely agree with what other women have said - that losing your hair can be of the most traumatic parts of breast cancer treatment. It’s easy to say ‘well, its only hair right?’ and that’s true, but it’s just another reminder that things are no longer ‘normal’. It’s a constant visual reminder of your illness and the severity of it. Long flowing hair symbolises femininity, and it another part of being a woman that’s being stolen by this disease.

Anyway, I am going to try to the cold cap (or scalp cooling) which essentially freezes your head whilst they are administrating the cocktail of poisons that is supposed to make me better. Apparently, it reduces the damage that the chemotherapy drugs do to the hair follicles, therefore meaning that you manage to hang on to at least some of your hair. However, it apparently only works about 50% of the time, it can be excruciating (like a four hour long brain freeze) and you can still lose a considerable amount of hair. And you can’t actually do anything with the hair that sticks around i.e. no straighteners, hair dryers etc. – even washing it is a bit of a no no. Anything that puts any sort of friction or stress on the hair and its follicles. I am going to give it a go, but faced with the prospect of being left with a greasy, flyaway comb-over, I’ve also decided to get a wig or two.

So, I went to try on some wigs, with a view to buying one and it was awful. I’d picked up a book from a high street wig and hair extension shop a few days before and spent some time looking and that and on their website, marvelling at how natural and ‘real’ they looked. So off I went today, rather naively, thinking I’d go in pick my favourite style and skip off feeling like Beyoncé.

I picked a couple of styles that I though looked great on the faceless plastic heads in the shop, but once they were on my head I changed my mind. I looked like me in a wig. As simple as that. There was too much hair and it seemed to shine rather synthetically under the harsh lights over the mirror in the little ‘hide the shame’ booth at the back of the shop.

After trying three on I couldn’t face anymore so ended up in tears, ripping the third wig off my head and leaving the shop and the poor young lady who was helping me rather uncomfortable and not knowing what to do. Then I went and had a massive cry in the toilets of the shopping centre screaming about how I could never, ever wear one of those and how was I never going to be able to leave the house during treatment. Unexpected entertainment for those stopping off for a pee.

On reflection, I’m not really sure what I expected. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at wigs and using it as a distraction – ‘now’s the time to have the hair I’ve always wanted!’ I guess it was a mixture of shock and disappointment and yet another reminder of the crap my body is going to go through over the next few months.

I’m hopefully off to another shop this week and fingers crossed I do end up feeling like Beyoncé after this visit rather than Dame Edna Everage!


Yey I have wigs! I went to Trendco in Birmingham (who I thoroughly recommend) with two of my lovely friends and purchased two wigs, one fibre and one real hair – in two different styles. One is called Hailey and the other Garnet. The real hair one is for when I can actually be bothered to style my hair and the other one is for ‘can’t be bothered, feeling a bit pants’ days. The price altogether was slightly eye-watering (ok, very) but at least I don’t have to pay VAT on them as I’m buying for ‘medical’ reasons. Both give me more hair than I am used to so takes a while getting used to looking at myself in the mirror! I’m going to try giving them days out gradually whilst I still have my own hair so that I don’t feel quite so self-conscious in the event that wearing a wig becomes necessary to stop people (and me)freaking out at my shiny egg head.

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