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It's Just Hair

January 6, 2017

 

 Like most women, I’ve had a fairly healthy albeit tumultuous relationship with my hair. There

have been days when I look in the mirror and think, “How can I go on tv with this?” Other days

when I can’t believe I haven’t been scouted for a shampoo commercial a la Sofia Vergara.

 

 It’s been short, too-short, long, curly, straight, dark, light, highlights of every variety and, for

most of my life, included bangs. I also have a stylist who takes good care of it for me. I feel

partly responsible for her bicep muscles, due to weekly blow drys of my very thick locks.

 

 That’s a quick history. Let’s fast forward to my first oncology appointment December 8, 2016. I

had heard from a few people that not everyone loses their hair during chemo. I’m an optimist,

so I asked. My kind, but very blunt oncologist said “Yes. You will lose your hair. It will start

falling out 15-18 days after your first chemo treatment, a day or so after your second

treatment.” Quick math. First chemo December 16, second scheduled for Dec 30. Happy New

Year!

 

 People say “It’s only hair.” I get that. I have breast cancer and it needs to be eradicated. That’s

what’s important here. That’s what the non-vain, practical side of me says. The other side of me

says “Oh no. What if I look like Dr. Evil?” I really had no idea what my head would look like

without all that hair framing it. Dr. Arnold said to me, that the most upsetting side effect to this

chemo treatment is the loss of hair. Suddenly, I’m not feeling so superficial.

 

 I’ve learned over the last month that a cancer diagnosis can be part physical stamina and part

mental fortitude. Your brain plays a huge role in how you are able to deal with and overcome

the many challenges that have suddenly been laid before you. My hair is going. Do I want to

wake up one morning with a giant clump of it on my pillow? NO! Holding handfuls of hair while

I’m already in an emotional state is not my idea of a good time. My aforementioned stylist and

dear friend, Andrea King has had a client go through this before. She advised me to get a wig

before anything started happening, and to cut my hair very short, even shave it before it

started falling out. In other words, take control of a situation I had very little control of. It

worked. Getting the wig and having it ahead of time gave me a sense of comfort that I would be

ready when the time came. Side note: my insurance company will pay 90% of the cost of a wig

for chemo patients. BONUS. The next step would be the head shave. Watching G.I. Jane, V for

Vendetta, the New Mad Max movie or old Sinead videos can be helpful but may give you a false

sense of confidence. I have a pretty healthy ego but realize I am no Natalie Portman or Charlize

Theron.

 

I made the decision to do it publicly with the option to back out at the last second. The idea of

doing it front of an audience emboldened me for some reason. I decided to not make it about

me or my hair but to make it for those who have gone through it, those who are about to go

through it and for those who are supporting loved ones facing the same situation. I also have a

great respect for those who have done this to raise money for the cause. That is real bravery

and selflessness. Making it about others and not about me was a game changer. My attitude

changed from fear and negativity to positivity. On New Years Eve, I went live on Facebook with

the whole thing. My husband shot it, using an iphone, my 13 year old came for support and my

friend Andrea did the honours. In less than a week, it has been viewed nearly 100,000 times.

 

 I have received, to date over 1500 supportive messages in response. My favourites though,

came from women saying “I have to do this, too. I was so afraid but you have given me

courage.” Take that, cancer.

 

 

Click below to see the video.

 

 

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IN THE MEDIA

Hamilton Health Sciences
Mar. 23rd, 2017

A Q&A about sharing my story and not facing it alone.

Peet & Reet Show!
Jan. 20th, 2017
kmacblog, Kim MacDonald, Breast Cancer

Discussing the signs of breast cancer and why I went public.