After my shower this morning, I wrapped my bald head in a towel out of habit. I waited two weeks, after chemo, for my hair to fall out. I questioned Dr. A’s promise that my hair would be gone two weeks after my treatment. I had cut my hair short but not shaved, in anticipation for massive amounts of hair shedding. I was actually looking forward to receiving a “natural-chemo” bikini wax, before Darrin’s annual pool party. Of course, not one hair fell out until the night after the party…
Tons fell out. I noticed it started in my armpits which I was able to pull out in less than 10 minutes over my bathroom sink. I stepped into the shower and washed my hair pulling out small amounts of hair. It was nothing to get worried about just yet. I still had a full head. Stepping outside on a windy day I imagined tufts of hair whipping from my scalp into people’s faces on the streets I walked. I went to my last tissue expansion appointment where nurse Helen and Dr. B complimented me on my haircut and whole new look. I told them not to get too used to it because the new haircut was falling out as we spoke. They both seemed curious as they examined my head for falling bits. I warned them I had slathered a lot of product within the strands of hair just to “hold” my hair in place. It was all fine, for a couple of days, I would just shake my head into the bathtub and see a sprinkling of hair fall onto the white porcelain. The final straw was the night I took a shower and despite repeated attempts at rinsing hair away from my body I stepped out of the shower and facing the mirror I saw my face and shoulders covered with more hair than when I had stepped into the shower.
It was time! I contacted Tamara who promised her boyfriend Siggi would shave my head the very next day. Giving up my hair was not as traumatic for me as most would have thought. I did weep a little when I had my hair first cut short, not because I didn’t want my long locks cut but because it was yet another thing I HAD to do for cancer. I was ready to have my hair cut 6 months ago, if I didn’t have breast cancer, I would have probably been scouring fashion magazines for a new haircut. I would have found my way back to Montreal and called up Benoit at Mod’s Hair in Westmount to craft a new haircut. Benoit was away on vacation when I went back a month ago. I didn’t have time to wait for him and I totally regretted he wasn’t the one to cut my hair one last time before it all fell out. I was a little sad he wasn’t around. There has always been a little anxiety when I got my haircut here in Toronto. I’ve never had the same hairdresser for more than a year or two since I’ve lived here. It’s not like I haven’t had a good haircut in Toronto. I have. It’s just that no hairdresser ever compares to Benoit and his haircuts and his personality. For the last 20 years I have remained faithful to Benoit alone. We both know I cheat on him once in a while, due to our long distance, but we have an understanding about “taking care of business” and I always tell the newbie hairdressers, no matter how talented I thought they were, with their scissors in hand, I would always go back to Benoit in the end.
Having friends shave my head was a lot easier than having a random hairdresser cut my hair. Tamara and Siggi set up a chair in their tiny bathroom and gave me a garbage bag to wear over my clothes to shield from all the hair that would be shorn. We talked about a mohawk, which was what I wanted originally rather than the haircut I ended up with. Tamara insisted Siggi shave a mohawk on my head before everything came off. I had a lot of fun with the head shave. When was I ever going to do this again? At least cancer gave me the opportunity to try the bald head out. A lot of friends thought this would be traumatic for me but I have had short boyish haircuts before. The way I see it hair grows back, breasts do not. If it was a “would you rather” moment between my breast or my long locks, my hair would go in a heartbeat. Dealing with both losses, at one time, did not have the same tragic impact as having that one mastectomy.
For the most part everyone is enjoying my new bald head, including myself. I have decided to forgo wearing a wig even though OHIP partially covers wigs for cancer patients. The Look Good, Feel Better store in PMH would have made me a wig out of my hair if I had chosen to keep it. This kind of grossed me out a little. It almost falls into the same realm of those people who knit mitts out of their pets’ dead fur/hair. But to each their own. I am comfortable with my naked scalp.
We are all so obviously cancer patients at the Breast Centre on the second floor of PMH. We have all lost some or will lose some of our hair so I was a little disappointed being the only woman who walked into the waiting area bald. If there was any place I thought we would be comfortable to not hide behind a wig, scarf or hat this would be the place, non? Wigs that I saw had the tendency to look ratty and from what I was told, they require hair maintenance if it is made from real hair. The only wig that looked somewhat coiffed belonged to the head of a bubble gum-snapping girl – and I want to say teenager here but this can’t be right. Right?!! She looked like the kind of gal in high school who forgoes 3 hours of sleep in the morning to shampoo and style her hair before carefully applying a full face of makeup, all before the break of dawn. The fresh curls in her wig definitely reflected this while sitting comfortably in her pink velour jogging suit. She was with her mom, she must have been in her twenties. At least, I hoped. I wondered who styled her wig? Did she have her own hairdresser do it? Was this how she wore her real hair? In any case, her morning routine must have been cut by half the usual time if she styled her wig the night before. Convenient.
It all seems a lot of effort to maintain a wig and to wear it well. I always enjoyed having my long hair in the summer because it was so low maintenance. I would wash it, towel it dry, twist it into a bun, pin it in place and go. Meh, I guess my bald head is a good compromise for the low maintenance routine too.