"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Waiting for my hair to fall out.....

My first chemo was 8 days ago and I got over that hump.  Quite honestly, I was more concerned about being able to tolerate the Penguin Cold Caps (to save my hair through chemo) than the chemo itself.  That too went better than I expected and I tolerated it well.  Now I sit and wait.......and wait......

With the type of chemo I am on (taxotere and cytoxan) the hair generally starts to fall out at least two weeks after chemo and later.  So for this first week I have been doing a good job distracting myself and not thinking about my hair potentially falling out.  Now that more time is going by I am starting to think about it more and more.  I hate the waiting...it's killing me!

So next week on Wednesday it will be two weeks.  I keep checking other body hair and it is all in tact (nothing like giving a slight tug on your hair down below to check and see if it's falling out or not).  I don't know how I will get through the next week without obsessing over my hair.   It is going to be one long week!

It is hard not to obsess over the whole hair thing at this point because I can't even treat it normal.  Now I can only wash it twice a week and it needs to be in cool water - not hot water like in a normal shower.  I have to time out which days I will wash it based on when I will be going out or seeing people.  In addition I have to use all new hair products that don't contain sulfates or parabens.  These products need to be really gentle.  I have chosen some organic products.  The hair dryer is out unless you use it on cool.  Do you know how long it takes to dry long hair on the cool setting of a hair dryer?  Answer:  forever!  Not only that, but when drying it, you can't really brush it as you don't want to tug on it at all.  So with all the new, strange and undesirable hair care protocols, how do I NOT obsess about my hair???? 

I have slightly wavy hair and before all of this I used straightening gel and blow dried my hair out straight using a large round brush.  I never LOVED my hair, but it looked nice.  Now I would kill to blow dry it and style it my normal way.  Now I am settling for wavy, curlier styles and using headbands and styling options I never would use before.   I know this is a small sacrifice at this point - having undesirably styled hair is better than having no hair, right?  I keep telling myself that over and over again.

The nice thing about having hair through chemo (assuming I will) is that you don't feel like you are broadcasting "I have cancer" to the world.  We went out with some friends a few weeks ago that we only see once or twice a year and they don't know anything about my cancer.  I keep thinking that if I keep my hair, it will be just like that. No one will ever know.   There is something powerful to me about that.  I don't want pity.  I want a normal life just like everyone else.  I just want to go out and live life in a normal way without everyone feeling sorry for me or looking at me with pity.  I hope that having hair will let me do that.

The other thing about having hair during chemo is that when chemo is over you can just wash your hair and go out and move on - with hair!  I think I would rather have a few months of ugly styled hair during chemo when I feel crappy anyway and then just move on after chemo.  By the time I am done with chemo I will feel good again and at that point I will not have to wait another six months for my hair to grow back.  I can just "be" and not have the daily reminder of chemo and cancer with a bald head and wigs. 

I know so many people go through cancer and lose their hair.  I commend them.  For some reason losing my hair to me was the hardest thought to deal with.  I just felt too vulnerable to go out with a wig on and let everyone everywhere see me as a "cancer patient".  Now, I am only a cancer patient when I go to the oncology office.  When I go to the gym, my son's school, out to dinner and visit with friends, I am just a regular person.  That feels good to me.  That gives me hope that I can be a normal person again.  For now, I will continue the horribly loooooong wait and see if my hair holds on.

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