When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at 16 years old, my doctor told me I would lose my hair, and I was devastated. I got it cut short, and I remember feeling like I was losing a part of myself. In fact, losing my long, brown hair seemed worse than the disease itself.
In Chapter 9 of my book, When Cancer Hits, I talk about all the aspects of losing your hair, what you can do about it, and most importantly, how to help yourself feel better and more confident about the whole thing.
The Emotional Side of Losing Your Hair
For this chapter, I talked with hair loss expert Susan Beausang, who surveyed women about the emotional effects of losing their hair. Susan explains that hair loss can affect women down to their very core. She provides examples of how women felt about hair loss, and how absolutely normal it is to feel however you’re feeling. This is not about vanity, but about who we are as mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends.
Straight away, I give you five things to do when you first learn that you’re going to lose your hair, plus help you create a plan-based on your personality-for how you can best deal with it. And though men may have more bald role models than women, many are just as devastated by hair loss, and can benefit from the steps outlined in this chapter.
How to Find a Wig
Finding a wig is about a lot more than just taking a trip to the wig shop. When is it best to start looking? What kind of wig should you get-synthetic or real hair? Do you have to pay for it, or will your insurance plan help? What if you can’t afford it? I answer all these questions and more, so you know exactly what you need to do to find a wig you feel comfortable with.
I also tell you exactly how to care for your wig once you have it. Even if you go with a real-hair wig, you have to follow certain steps in washing and drying it. If you don’t, you risk damaging it, and unlike your hair, it won’t grow back!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, there’s a whole section on wigs for guys. Yes, they look very natural!
If you’ve ever worn a wig before, you know that sometimes it can feel hot, uncomfortable, and itchy. I tell you what kind of steps you can take to make sure your wig is comfortable, and what you can do throughout the day to care for the tender skin on your scalp. Most likely you’ve never had to worry about your scalp before, so you’ll need some help, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Scarves and Hats
Not sure you want to wear a wig? I help you decide whether or not a wig is for you, then show you some of your other options, such as scarves and hats. These can be extremely stylish, and I help you find those that are specifically made for cancer patients, which means they’re warmer, easier to wear, and more comfortable than standard types.
Finally, if you’re considering going “all natural,” I help you examine the pros and cons to see if this is the right option for you.
Losing your hair doesn’t have to be a traumatic and depressing experience. Once I had my wig and started experimenting with hats and other styles, I actually had a lot of fun with it. Remember that your hair is going to grow back. With the tips in Chapter 9, you’ll make it through your temporary hair loss feeling confident and in control-and that’s exactly how you need to feel to give your body the strength it needs to heal.
(When Cancer Hits is available now-click here.)
How did you cope with hair loss during cancer? Have you read Britta’s chapter on the subject? Please share your story.