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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chemotherapy and Hair

One of the realities of having a really bad cancer is that you are almost certainly going to lose your hair in an attempt not to lose your life.  That seemed like an acceptable cost, and when I learned that 90% of women who get my chemotherapy regimen lose their hair in the first cycle of chemotherapy, I got ready.  I went on line and ordered some scarves that I could see myself wearing.  I looked up a wig shop in town and went in and picked out the one I could live with and ordered it.  Then I went to get my hair cut to look like the wig so that I could get used to it.  And I didn't consider doing any sort of hair sparing therapy.

Then I went through my first round of chemotherapy.
I lost about half my hair, and I got to thinking about it.  I have never done anything to my hair.  I barely brush it.  How was I going to pull off a wig, no matter how much people told me they loved theirs, when I had never given my hair a second thought?  And while I was pretty sure that I could rock the scarf look at home and socially, but at work I would almost certainly need a wig.  Could I really pull that off?  Would I be more comfortable with just my thin hair?  So I borrowed a cold cap system to keep your hair.  You have these caps on dry ice (meaning unbelievably cold) and you switch them out every 30-60 minutes while you are getting chemotherapy so that your hair follicles freeze and don't get exposed to the chemotherapy.  It seems to work and is done often in Europe.  I was at a disadvantage, in that my chemotherapy was infused over 24 hours, which is an awfully long time, but that ultimately didn't matter because I could not tolerate the cold for an hour.  It was excruciatingly painful, and while I was trying to contemplate another day of this pain, then repeating it again, I completely got my head wrapped around what I would have to do about hair loss, because I could not manage what it would take to keep it!

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