Bald Heads and Weather Girl Hair | Hair Loss and Wigs after Chemo for Breast Cancer

Perhaps the only picture taken of my while I was wearing my wig...
Perhaps the only picture taken of my while I was wearing my wig…

As I look back, I regret how I used this blog when I was going through treatment.  It was more of a weekly check-in, just to let people know that I was still doing fine.  Truth be told, sometimes I only checked in once a week because I was busy doing fun things and napping and just didn’t feel like spending my precious awake time on the computer.  But still, I wish that I’d had more pictures of all the fun things I was doing– pictures of me in my favorite scarf and fabulous boots wandering around Old Town with Sally, pictures of me in my favorite smartwool hat from Athleta hanging out at the bus stop with all my neighbors, watching the kids play.  Pictures showing that it wasn’t always all that easy, but that it really wasn’t all that hard, either.  And I wish I had pictures of those few times I actually wore my wig.

I didn’t think that I wanted a wig, but it really seemed like it would be easier for the kids if I had one.  Since insurance paid for it (or most of it), I went ahead and got one.  I did my best to get one that looked like my real hair, but really only wore it to church.  It felt so strange, so disingenuous to wear a wig over my bald head.  I’ve also always been a “fusser,” I fuss with my hair constantly.  I tuck it behind this ear, then that,  smooth it out over my neck.  Even with a good wig, that’s just not a great plan.  It starts to get all tangly and before you know it, all I could think about was how much my hair felt like the hair on Emma Clare’s American Girl Doll.  Not a good feeling.

One Sunday, apparently the Sunday after chemo (I can tell because the steroids made me all flushed for several days), the youth director took photos of everyone to make a directory of sorts to hang on the bulletin board.  As far as I know, this is the only picture of me actually wearing my wig, not just playing dress up. (Oh wait, I did find one other picture— even worse than this one– that I took the night after I had my head shaved.)

It was a really good wig, but I only wore it a handful of times.  I think I somehow felt stronger without the wig– like I was showing that I was strong enough and healthy enough that I didn’t need the wig.  That said, there are a lot of women who want to wear a wig for lots of great reasons.  My kids didn’t mind me being bald, and I was so thankful for that.  I have one friend, though, whose son found her bald head very upsetting, so she wore her wig most of the time.  If I were working, especially in an environment where I dealt with clients, I can see wanting to hide my cancer– perhaps they might think I wasn’t up to the task or that they were “helping” me by taking their business elsewhere. If I thought I were going to wear my wig, there are definitely some things I should have done differently.  A shorter, straight wig would be much easier to take care of and wear on a daily basis than the long, wavy locks I bought.  If someone were trying to do the “wear the wig everyday and keep the cancer thing under wraps” thing, I’d probably suggest she cut her hair into a short bob as soon as possible– a style that would be easy to replicate with a wig.  It was mere minutes into our first wig shop outing when Sally and I started referring to that as “weather girl hair.” I hope that doesn’t offend any weather girls.  But seriously, watch the news for a while and you’ll totally get it.  At any rate, if she’s got weather girl hair to begin with, when her hair starts falling out, a quick shave and a swap with the wig might not be all that noticeable.

It’s so funny to me that I desperately wanted to keep things normal for the kids, yet I thought nothing of showing up for a “normal” school event with nothing more than a scarf covering my head.  Either way, especially when she has cancer, a woman should do whatever it takes for her to feel stronger, more beautiful, more powerful.  She should do whatever she wants, whether that means having the best weather girl hair out there, or heading out with a shiny bald head and some great lipstick.

Eighteen Months Post-Chemo | The Pixie Grow Out Saga Continues

post haircut august

Ah, what a difference a little hair and make up make!  Thought I’d give another update in the great pixie grow out saga. Not because I need to see more of my face on the screen, but because I keep looking for pictures of other people’s!  It’s hard to get an idea of what to expect when you’re waiting for hair to grow back from nothing.  So for those keeping track, my last chemo was February 1, 2013.  That makes this just over 18 months of growth, though I have been getting regular haircuts to keep it under control, the most recent was last week.  On the left, you can see how long those front pieces are getting.  I think they should tuck behind my ears by Christmas.  But on the right, you can see that I’m a hot mess when I go running now– my sweaty band keeps my hair out of my face, but now it’s getting too long to do the cute little thing where it all stands up behind the headband.  Clay just got his hair cut this week, and my hair is now officially longer than his.  Somehow, I think he’s a little happier about that than I am! But I’ve promised to keep at it, and Dragan says I should “play around with it,” so stay tuned for more ridiculous hairstyles!

Pixie Grow Out Update

hair collage

Last week I saw a couple of women I hadn’t seen since the end of April.  They were shocked by “how long” my hair had gotten.  The kids have noticed, too, and Emma Clare thought that she should style it.  It started as one little sprout of a ponytail, but once she saw how easily she could put it up, my head was quickly covered with little sprouts.

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It is getting long, though.  And it’s getting hard to control.  I wanted to share a picture with a real hairstyle, but I don’t seem to be happy enough with it for more than ten minutes after styling it. Thankfully I’m heading to get a haircut this week, maybe Dragan can come up with something to control these locks a little better than what I came up with on Saturday! (I’ll try to have a post-haircut pic up next week!)

Post-Chemo Pixie Grow Out | Chatting at Target

You know how you run into an acquaintance at Target and they ask how you are, and “fine” is your automatic response? Honestly, things would have to be pretty bad– or pretty great– to elicit a more lengthy reply.  Of course, when I was wearing a scarf on my bald head, these interactions could be a little awkward.  Most people handled it well, though.  My favorite comment was from the mom of one of my daughter’s friends, while smiling and staring at my bald head: “We-elllllllll, I haven’t seen you in a while. What’s new?” Obviously, to ignore the bald head and the cancer would have been ridiculous, so we had a nice chat and I filled her in.

But now, I’m not bald anymore.  In the past few months, I have run into a couple of people who worked with Clay years ago.  I always had long hair, and that’s how they remembered me.  They both commented immediately on my short hair– they were clearly surprised at the drastic change.  So how to address that comment? It’s more of a “fine” kind of encounter.  This isn’t really the setting to go into a long health saga with someone who I don’t know well enough to have spoken with in the past five years. Yet it seems a little disingenuous to act like I cut it short because I wanted it that way, to ignore the fact that I’ve had cancer.  After stumbling through the awkward encounter a few times, I’ve finally found some words. “Thanks, it is a big change.  I actually really like it short, but I’ve decided to try to grow it back out.”

Growing out a Pixie | One Year of Regrowth

hair regrowth one year

Last May, I was just starting to really see hair on my head, it was so short, stuck straight up, and was super blonde.  It was still a while before I’d head in to Dragan to get a trim– or really a shaping.  Since then, we’ve  been faithfully trimming and shaping it, letting the top grow long while keeping the sides shorter.  Eventually, the goal is to get the top to grow in to a bit of an inverted bob.  But for now, it’s still short, and getting to the tricky stage, harder to control.

growing out pixie 05.14

I have been literally counting the days until tomorrow’s haircut, hoping Dragan can help me find a way to style it at this new length.  In the past few days, I’ve been through loads of hairstyles– trying to see what I can do with such short, but not quite short enough, hair.  I’ve been raiding Emma Clare’s stash of hair accessories lately, the Jane Tran barrettes are my current fave, but I’ve even given some headbands a shot.  I don’t love hair in my face, so this next stage could be tough, but between the headbands, barrettes, braids, and yes, ball caps, I hope to make it to the “tuck behind the ears” stage.

edited to add: This is how it ended up today…  Still hoping for a flash of inspiration at the haircut tomorrow!
pixie grow out 05.14

 

Lego’s First Breast Cancer Minifig?

It’s been cold and snowy here.  The kids finally headed back to school and it was as if you could hear all the parents breathe a collective sigh of relief as we put their cold little bodies on the bus yesterday morning.

But filling five consecutive days off has been a challenge. We played (briefly) outside, made fires, made chili and chocolate chip cookies, and the kids played far too much Wii and Minecraft. (For the record, they also each completed one “big” school assignment and got some more books at the library.) But thankfully, they love Legos and have played a good bit with those, too.

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This is currently one  of Emma Clare’s favorite characters, she is reading a book about a Japanese-American family, so is drawn to the cherry blossom tank. But she showed it to me because she thinks it looks like me.  Apparently, this is kind of what my hair looks like when I don’t spike it up fauxhawk-style.

Legos sure have come a long way since I hoarded the trees and flowers to try to give my houses at least a little bit of a woman’s touch. Now, apparently, I have my very own Lego minifig. I must be big stuff.

More on the Hair: The Fauxhawk

fauxhawk

Seems like it’s gotten a little deep here on the blog, so naturally we should head back to hair and makeup, right? I went in for a haircut last week. Now for a brief digression, I am attempting to grow out my hair.  But yes, I keep getting it cut. We’re letting the top grow out before I start letting the sides and back grow out so I don’t spend too long looking all shaggy and fuzzy.

Anyway, after he cut it last week, Dragan was starting to style my hair and mentioned that it’s probably long enough for a mohawk. “OK, let’s see it,” I quickly answered. I’m not sure he expected me to let him do it, and I really don’t think he expected me to leave with my hair all standing up like that.  But honestly, I kind of like it.

There is one big caveat with the fauxhawk, though. It turns out there is a thin line between me looking like an edgy version of me and me looking like Justin Bieber. (yikes.) And that fine line is good makeup and lipstick. Without makeup and a bold or bright lip, I end up looking an awful lot like Justin Bieber, and that’s just not ok. But I do like the hair. So bring on the hair product. But also the lipstick.

Lipstick: Buxom Full-On Lip in Havana