Donna Kim-Brand

In the last post we looked at general hair loss issues and psychology when faced with the prospect of chemotherapy treatment. As mentioned, in most cases your hair will grow back within about three to six months after stopping treatment. So what we want to look at today is how you can set yourself up for dealing with the potential of hair loss before chemo as well as during and after treatment. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I will refer to women in this post, but much of the information also applies to men.

Number one, in my mind, is to consolidate your internal resources for the arduous journey ahead, remembering how precious and beautiful you are right now, as you are. Your true identity goes far beyond how you look and feel on any given day, and ties to your spiritual lineage, however you perceive that. You are also resourceful beyond measure, especially when you factor in the support your family, friends and others who are sympatico want to provide alongside you.

Pre-Chemo-

  • In practical terms, do your best to educate yourself with correct and up-to-date information. Lots has changed in recent years which gives you more options than ever before.
  • Discuss a wide range of issues with family, friends and selective co-workers who will be directly affected by your treatment. Set up support structures and new arrangements as appropriate.
  • Decide if you want to pursue methods to prevent hair loss (taking into account the side-effects), such as cryotherapy (Scalp Hypothermia)- where you use various methods to keep your scalp cool during chemo, or Rogaine (Minoxidil) to speed eventual regrowth.
  • Check with your insurance company what options they will cover, from wigs to specific types of treatments. Your doctor may be able to write prescriptions to facilitate this.
  • Consider cutting your hair now, or changing your style, so that possible future changes due to hair loss appear less drastic.
  • Treat your hair gently and with more TLC by air drying rather than using a hair dryer and reducing or eliminating the use of hot rollers or hair straighteners, stop coloring unless the formulas are all natural, and use shampoos and conditioners that nurture your hair.
  • Assemble your ‘Well-being Team’- doctors, alternative therapists, hair stylists and head-fashion advisors, and support buddies available for all sorts of needs that arise. Be open to meeting new people who ‘magically’ show up and become an important part of your journey.
  • Look into a variety of relevant support groups and try out a few ahead of time to see where you feel most comfortable.
  • Take up meditation to reduce stress, as stress alone can cause hair loss.
  • Try out a range of different wigs, scarves, hats and head coverings before you need them so it’s actually a fun outing. Go with friends so you can get their feedback when you are less sensitive to it!
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