Donna Kim-Brand

In the last blog post in the “Hair Loss and Chemotherapy” series in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s explore together the scenarios of hair loss during and after chemo:

During Chemo-

  • Make sure you have a home environment where you are comfortable being uncomfortable, with locations to be on your own as well as communal spaces.
  • Limit exposure to stressful situations or people who upset you.
  • Have designated drivers to appointments or shopping for necessities as well as back-up plans. Some insurances won’t cover drivers undergoing chemo.
  • Depending on how the hair is thinning or coming out more dramatically, consider shaving your head. Notice how interesting your head actually looks. Remember, there’s a whole ‘science’, phrenology, based on our head shape.
  • Continue to be gentle with your hair and scalp with lotions and potions, but also by using gentle sunscreen and keeping direct sunlight off your head. You may also want to switch to a soft-bristle brush, like a baby brush.
  • Since your head may be more sensitive to temperature during chemo, be aware that you might want a soft cotton hat or head covering that keeps you warm while not being scratchy or annoying by constantly slipping off.

After Chemo-

  • Remember that your body, mind and spirit have likely been through a traumatic period. Allow time to regain your full strenth and ease back into activities and relationships that serve you and lift your spirits.
  • Be aware that how you look at life and choices you make for yourself may be quite different from before your diagnosis. Friendship dynamics may also have changed, which may shift how you choose to relate to everyone in your life, from family members to friends, old and new.
  • Continue to treat your hair and scalp gently, and remember to smile as you look into the mirror and see a stronger, wiser version of yourself.
  • Decide what to do with your collection of hats, scarves or other head coverings at this phase of your treatment. Some women have grown to love their new look and continue using head coverings as part of their fashion statement. Others fling them off, rejoicing to be past their need for them.
  • Pace yourself and be patient, remembering that the natural process of hair regrowth will be aided by you being in general good health and spirits. Stressing over how long it is taking, if that’s the case, is not helpful.

In the smorgasbord of life experiences available to us as humans, very few would choose to go through cancer, hair loss and everything else associated with it. But should this be part of your experience, why not approach it as a chance to cultivate your patience, resilience, wisdom and love. Learn to recognize your inner beauty and strength. Most people are far stronger, resourceful and caring than they express in everyday life unless challenged. The same goes for care-givers, who are also thrust into difficult positions by way of caring for loved ones.

So pace yourself for the long game of life, however long it is granted. And know there are many people out there ready and willing to be of help.

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