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The 3,800 Club: Will my hair really fall out?
I suddenly like my hair. A lot.
It’s the same head of hair I have wished so many times could look like someone else’s.
But now, faced with losing my locks, I stop seeing the flaws and simply start appreciating the hair I have, imperfections and all.
My oncologist and nurses have warned that my hair will fall out from the chemotherapy drugs I am on to fight breast cancer. I am encouraged to cut my hair very short or shave it. The nurses caution that losing my hair in clumps can be traumatic.
And yet I can’t make myself cut it. I know it’s just hair. Still, it’s my hair.
I tell the nurse that perhaps I will be different. Maybe I will be the patient who somehow keeps her hair through treatment. The nurse gently tells me that in her 20-plus years of working in oncology, she is yet to see anyone on my chemo drugs who has not lost her hair.
So should I get a wig? A friend, diagnosed with breast cancer just two weeks after me, convinced me to go see what kind of wigs are out there. We have a few laughs trying them on. But my best wig laugh comes when that same friend shows up at my home with a dreadful wig that is strangely close to my hair color. She puts it on and honestly, she looks ridiculous.
And somehow in that moment, we devise a plan – a practical joke with my husband as the target. I will wear that awful wig when he gets home from work and convince him it’s my new very short haircut.
In my husband’s defence, he didn’t have his glasses on. But I like to think my friend and I played it out so beautifully, glasses wouldn’t have mattered. I cover my head with my hands, tell him the nurses convinced me I needed to get my hair cut before it fell out but that I couldn’t get an appointment with my hairdresser. I say I went to my friend’s stylist who somehow left me with an awful cut. He asks me to show him the damage. His eyes go wide. He’s not sure what to say, finally mumbling something about how it doesn’t look that bad.
I start laughing and pull off the wig. He laughs too, but mostly he looks relieved.
Days later, I ask my husband how he feels about having a wife who will soon be bald.
"You have a nice shaped head," he answers. "You’ll look good, hair or no hair."
And in that moment, I think it’s the kindest thing he’s ever said.
There’s a great program for women going through cancer treatment that can help them feel more like themselves, and it’s free. Check it out!
Michele Brunoro will be providing ongoing updates during her medical leave on her blog, The 3,800 Club.