28th May

Today feels a little strange. I was supposed to be starting my chemotherapy this afternoon, so the date has been etched in my mind for several weeks. I have prepared myself mentally and emotionally for the poisonous onslaught of drugs into my system. I have dug deep and was feeling courageous in the face of known and unknown side effects. I even visited a wig salon in anticipation of the hair loss which my personal cocktail of chemo drugs make inevitable. (More about that shortly.)

Chemo can adversely affect your teeth and gums therefore it’s wise to start with a strong and healthy mouth. So I dutifully went for a dental check-up last week and ended up with having two fillings. Imagine my frustration – and pain – when I developed an infection in one of them. This flare-up has delayed my chemo until 4th June, provided the antibiotics have done their job of course. Much as I am dreading the treatment, this is simply prolonging the stressful anticipation. All my mental preparation seems to have reached its use-by date and expired, so I will have to psyche myself up all over again.

Meanwhile, I am passing the time by trying to imagine myself with no hair. This is the most visible, drastic and, for some, almost unbearable, consequence of chemotherapy. My hair is not exactly my pride and joy; it is fairly thin, flat and utterly uninteresting, but I am attached to it nonetheless and will be sad to see it go.

My expedition to the wig salon was, I must admit, a fairly disturbing experience. Nothing to do with the beautiful salon, the lovely staff and the high-end hair accoutrements they sell; it just proved impossible to find any wig that remotely resembled my hair and didn’t make me look like a television newsreader from c. 1975. Apologies to any 1970s newsreaders reading this. You looked great at the time, it’s just not a look I want to adopt in 2015!

Having initially been upset by the failure to find the perfect wig, I had a moment of deep and heartfelt clarity: why try to fool anyone, including myself, into thinking I have my own hair? Why not embrace this enforced make-over, and adorn my bald head with hats and scarves in patterns and colours that will brighten the world as I walk through it? And if people stare – which they might – I will muster a smile and think  ‘This might look odd but it’s saving my life!’

This realisation felt good, really good. It felt empowering and positive – feelings that are all too hard to come by when you have cancer.

Of course,  it may be easier said than done, speaking from my hirsute, pre-chemo perspective but I feel sure I won’t change my mind once my hair bids my head farewell. Besides, my little terrier Katy is far too interested in small, furry things to risk leaving a wig lying around!



5 thoughts on “28th May

  1. Ah Sally… you might just find that the lack of hair suits you and whilst not loving the reason for it, you love the liberation from ‘hair’. When I had mine shaved off from below shoulder length to a ‘clippers with no guard’ surgical clip (to support my aunt going through chemo for breast cancer and raising £770 for breast cancer care in the process!) I absolutely loved it- as for my aunt, she loved hers too- her carefully chosen wigs and scarves rarely made an appearance on her head! XxX


  2. If Ms O’Connor can, so can you…perhaps I could knit you a tomato hat if you give me your head size?? Think of all the scarves and bandanas you can buy! Did they have any mohicans perchance in the wig shop? xxx


  3. I’ve had alopecia since I was 11 years old and so have struggled with hair loss all my life. And it IS a struggle, no doubt about it. However, some of your fears at least are probably unfounded – no-one has ever been nasty to me in any way, and I mostly feel sympathy from people (I guess many imagine that I’m having chemo myself). Oh, apart from my mother, who once told me I had to get a wig because I must be such an embarrassment to everyone at work (thanks for that, Mum!). I wear headscarves when it’s very thin and that gives me a lot more confidence, and as you say they are attractive and available in lots of bright colours. Also, surprisingly enough, many people barely notice – they look at your eyes and smile and don’t pay much attention to hair – though for myself, of course, I’m obsessed with other people’s hair and it’s the first thing I see! Thinking of you with a lot of sympathy on this xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t realise your treatment was so soon- I’m knitting as fast as I can, but it’s a new technique for me (knitting in the round) and I’ve pulled it back at least 4 times… LOL!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s