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I’m going bald! Tips for the ladies on dealing with hair loss

I’m going bald! Tips for the ladies on dealing with hair loss

One of the most awful side effects from chemo is losing your hair, especially for us ladies. And what was the worse part of hair loss? Losing my eyebrows and eyelashes, too. But looking back, there were ways to make the hair loss far less traumatic, if there is such a thing. Here are the things I wish I had known back when my hair started falling out in clumps and, faced with the inevitable, I had it all shaved off and started wearing wigs.

  1. Prior to hair loss, my scalp would feel hot, my scalp would throb, and I had headaches. I finally realized that it didn’t mean I had a brain tumor– it was my scalp getting ready to shed its hair.
  2. Waking up and finding clumps of hair on my pillow was unnerving. There was no denying the fact that I was going to lose my hair and it was time to just shave it.
  3. Going with a really short haircut prior to going bald would have provided a nice transition. I didn’t want to have short hair, though, and I put it off. I always had very long hair. It helped define who I was. Going with a short ‘do was just unfathomable. But the reality is that short hair is cute, I was going to lose how I “used” to look in favor of a “new, different, and more resilient” me. I should have embraced that reality and learned to love it. What was the alternative anyway?
  4. When picking a wig, I should have picked a very short wig that I liked. Trying on wigs was actually very fun. But I wanted to look like the “old me” so I purchased four wigs, all with long hair. Long haired wigs are a pain in the neck. They tangle easily and I became obsessed with running my fingers through those wigs constantly trying to work out the tangles. It was really annoying. Short haired wigs are far more comfortable and easy to maintain- trust me! Plus, when my hair started growing back and I pitched the wig, I rocked a short hairstyle anyway. I should have just gone with a short style from the beginning.
  5. Purchase several wigs. Because every few weeks, you’ll need to take your wig to get it cleaned, conditioned and styled. It oftentimes means leaving your wig with the stylist for a few days. Also, it’s wise to buy wigs that, say, have a cap attached, or a headband. They are fantastic when working out, going for walks or hikes, or simply hanging out poolside in the summer. They can also be comfortable.
  6. There’s a chance you’ll lose your eyebrows. I spent a fortune on fake paste-on eyebrows. And they looked completely ridiculous! I looked like Groucho Marx and it was so obviously fake. Do not even bother with them! I hate to admit to this but I just drew them on with a pencil. At first I was shaky with drawing them in but I got really good at it soon enough. Since it was summer, the eyebrows tended to melt. I made sure I didn’t touch my eyebrows and that I “refreshed” them frequently. I carried my trusty eyebrow pencil with me everywhere I went. The good news is that my eyebrows grew back in very quickly, like within a few weeks.
  7. There’s a chance you’ll lose your eyelashes. I purchased falsies and only used them when I had to. Most of the time, I simply used a tick black eyeliner as close to my eyelid  I also used sunglasses or tinted reading-type glasses everywhere I went. One had to look very closely to realize that I had no eyelashes. And when I was at a wedding reception, I sucked it up and wore the uncomfortable fake eyelashes. But they are not easy to get on just right, just sayin’. So be prepared to practice a lot. Give yourself time and remain calm as best you can. The good news is that my eyelashes grew back within a month and they were longer and thicker than they ever were pre cancer. I’m often asked if I have eyelash extension. Nope- they’re all real, thanks, chemo! I guess?
  8. Massage and condition your scalp. Your head needs it and will help stimulate hair growth. I went to a beauty college once a week and got a scalp massage for $5. I rubbed organic coconut oil on my scalp every morning. It helped.
  9. When your hair starts growing back, your wig won’t fit so well anymore. My wig started sliding off with alarming ease. I really worried that with a little wind, I’d end up hairless and embarrassed. I wore a hat to help. Soon it was time to be brave and go without the wig. It felt weird, scary, and AMAZINGLY LIBERATING when that happened.
  10. Be prepared for very tight curls! I went from straight hair to extremely curly. I didn’t know what to do with it. I went back to the beauty college and started letting them shampoo and style it two times a week. It was very inexpensive and it was worth the time and money.
  11. When my hair grew a few inches, I added hair extensions. In an instance, I had long hair again It’s been about 18 months and I have just four hair extensions now and my hair is long(er) and healthy. Yay!

Losing hair is tough but it will grow back. I look at my new hair and while it’s different and I still struggle with the curls, I’m so happy that it’s here. It’s a sign of how far I’ve come in this Myeloma Journey.

About Lizzy

Avatar of Lizzy
Lizzy was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in January 2012. Upon learning of her illness, she promptly left her husband and moved to Utah with her two children and entered treatment. Following a tandem stem cell transplant regiment, she is doing well and is in maintenance therapy. She chronicles her journey at www.lizzysmilez.blogspot.com.

5 comments

  1. I was thrilled to find this link to Myeloma Crowd! I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in May 1996. I have had two BMTs and radiation and chemo since the transplants. Currently, I am off my Revlimid because I became severely neutropenic and my platelets were dangerously low-in the 40′s! Plus, I have always been anemic but not to the point that I needed medical intervention until I was neutropenic and thrombocytopenic. I received numerous blood transfusions as well as platelets. I am now taking Prednisone to get my counts back to normal and I am almost there! I have this one new problem now, however, that is really puzzling me. I am losing my hair!!! None of my meds or even the chemo I took until April of this year should cause baldness. My doc thinks it is because of the stress my body went through when I was neutropenic so I have started taking a multi-vitamin directed mainly for hair, skin and nails. I also take 1000 mcg of frolic acid daily. I am also using Minoxidil solution on my scalp twice daily. I have only started doing all of these things for about a week now so I know not to expect overnight results. Hair grows 1/2 to 1 inch a month so it could be a while. I just wondered if anyone else has experienced hair loss not related to chemo. Any suggestions or recommendations will be greatly appreciated!!!!

  2. How do you deal with how hot it is? My hair is gone. There’s a tiny bit of fuzz trying to grow back, but I’m keeping it shaved because I’m about to start high dose chemo again. I’m getting prepared for my bone marrow transplant. The problem is, I wear my cute little short wig or I wear the cute little head scarves I bought, but they are so hot. It makes my scalp itch and I end up scratching sores into them or just going completely bald without any head protection and get a sunburn on my scalp. I hate this. I did all the right things and got all the right things but they are so darn hot to wear. How do you deal with this?

    • Avatar of Lizzy

      I, too, stressed about wigs/hot weather. In fact, during the midst of wig-wearing, I went to Washington, DC in July during their major heat wave. It got up to 110 degrees not including humidity. Prior, I purchased a wig that had a breathable cap and it was actually quite cool. When there was any kind of breeze, it actually felt quite heavenly. Go to a wig store and ask them for the most breathable wigs. Go short. Best of luck!

  3. Avatar of Jenny A

    I wasn’t a big wig fan because of the itch. I wore these small cotton caps and put a light scarf over it. Just enough but not too much.

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