It's Just Hair
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
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
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.