Today's post is a bit ranty. I would apologise in advance but I think I'm allowed to have a rant now and then. I've tried to write this blog so far without a 'feeling sorry for myself whingey whiny' tone but today has been a bit pants so please allow me to indulge myself this time!
I went to the hospital today for my pre-chemo bloods doing and cried because of how much it hurt. My chemo vein is very sore and I think it has hardened a bit as I can feel it under my skin. I've only had one session as well so I dread to think what it is going to be like after a couple more.
I have cording under my arm from my sentinel node biopsy which is painful and tight and I can feel the pulling sensation right down to my hand when I raise my arm. Its also very visible in my armpit which looks rank.
And despite using the cold cap my hair is falling out at an alarming rate. By the handful. I'm finding it all over the floor, on my shoulders, down my back, on my pillow....I'm like a moulting dog. I'm saving it as well. At least the hair that I can collect - the rest gets hoovered up or chucked in the bin. I have a 'hair bag'. Below is a photo of the contents so far. I think there is probably enough there to house a small family of sparrows.....
I had a bit of a cry about it this morning. Even though I know that hair loss is a guaranteed side effect of the treatment, I had hoped the cold cap would work. It still might. Although I have lost a considerable amount of hair now so I'm wondering whether its even worth bothering with the cold cap again if its going to carry on falling out at the rate it is.
Unless you've been through it yourself, I guess it must be difficult to understand exactly how it can affect someone. And in the grand scheme of things it might seem quite insignificant. So I just wanted to clear up a few things about hair loss due to chemotherapy:
1. Losing your hair as a result of chemotherapy is a process. You don't just got to bed one evening and wake up with a perfectly shaved head. You wake up each morning and check the amount of hair that is on your pillow. You check your scalp for evidence of thinning and bald patches. You're scared to brush your hair due the extraordinary amount left on the brush after just a few strokes. The thought of washing it is terrifying as you picture most of it ending up down the plug hole. Its a incredibly visual reminder of how ill you are and what is happening to your body. Each clump of hair that falls out is another part of your femininity being taken away by this horrible disease. It might be 'only hair' but Its traumatic, upsetting and utterly shit.
2. Hair loss has got nothing to do with how effective the chemotherapy is or if it's 'working'. I'm having chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumour in my breast - or in the best case scenario get rid of it completely. The hair loss is an inevitable part of treatment (unless the cold cap works). It would happen regardless of how effective the chemotherapy was. The only way I will know if the chemotherapy is 'working' is if my tumour shrinks. The hair loss has no correlation with this whatsoever.
3. I do have very nice wigs. However, wearing a wig is not the same as having your own hair. Period. Wigs can be hot, itchy and annoying. And when you get home and take it off, you are still bald underneath. Simple as that. I can't just stick a wig on to go for a run. That would be incredibly sweaty. I'm not going to sit around the house in my wig. I will still have to look in the mirror and see myself with no hair. My friends and family will see me with no hair. As someone who takes great pride in their appearance, I find the thought of that incredibly upsetting. I also worry about the effect that that may have on those who care about me. I think perhaps sometimes its easier for people to deal with when this illness isn't immediately visible or evident. I keep having people tell me how 'well' I look. But once the hair is gone that might be a different story. Its going to take some getting used to.
4. The hair loss is another reminder of the lack of control I have over my own body right now. I haven't chosen any of this. I haven't chosen to have cancer, to spend months going through gruelling treatment, to have the horrid side effects, to have my life put on hold, to be in a constant state of anxiety and fear. As I've said before, the hair loss is visible, obvious reminder of the totally unwanted and unexpected shit that has been thrown at me.
5. It will grow back yes. But I will have to spend around 4 months bald or with bum fluff on my head. Hair grows at about half an inch per month. My hair now is about 7 inches long. Before I had it cut in to a bob it was about 16 inches long. Work that one out.
6. I am not going to be like Jessie J or Sinead O'Connor or any other shaven headed female celebrity you can pull out of the bag. Jessie J chose to shave her hair off. I don't have a choice in this. She also has eyebrows and eyelashes. I'm hoping mine cling on as long as possible but who knows? She also had a head of stubble. You don't keep stubble when you lose your hair due to chemotherapy. You go bald. Completely bald. Shiny headed bald. Even stubble falls out. Bald.
So there we have it. My ranty post about hair loss. Yes, its not the biggest thing I have to deal with right now. But its still shite. And its not all gone yet. Maybe some of it will cling on. But as I said its falling out at an alarming rate. I think I need to be realistic about the fact that there may be a point where I need to make a decision about trying to keep it or just getting the clippers on it. But hey - it's only hair right?