Cancer-Related Hair Loss the Second Time Around

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I didn’t think that I’d lose my hair again after starting my latest breast cancer treatment, but I did — and with that hair loss came both new and familiar feelings.

When I began Enhertu, I was told that the chances of losing my hair were small. The odds for my hair thinning were much greater, but I didn’t really care about hair thinning, or losing my hair either. I had already lost my hair once. My hair had grown back into luscious long curls with thick strands — something I never had before in my life, and I was so much more grateful for it. I fell in love with it and learned how to care for it.

However, around my third week after my first round of chemo, the tell-tale signs of my hair falling out started happening: my scalp started burning, clumps of hair fell out on my clothes and strands were constantly falling out on my keyboard while I was working. Devastated, I knew it was happening again. It was all too familiar, and I couldn’t stop it from happening. Watching my long strands that I patiently grew out after four years was the ultimate slap to my face from my own cancer. I chose to get this treatment to fight my cancer, and now my hair was falling out — the very same hair I fought so hard to grow back.

I sobbed hard that night knowing how angry I was at myself and my stage 4 cancer. I felt stupid because it’s hair, and something that I had already lost before. I grieved this loss hard because it was so unexpected for me, and I lost all my gumballs from my internal gumball machine of safety. That same night, I gathered my courage and ordered a ton of hats online in preparation of shaving my head. As soon as they arrived, I told my husband we’re cutting it.

When I lost my hair the first time, I went and got a pixie cut to get used to short hair for a week before we buzzed it. This time around, I was not going to waste time. I cut all of my long strands off before my husband took the buzzer. Then my husband gave me a Mohawk, and we laughed for about 10 minutes. Finally, we had my buzzed-head finished look.

Over the last month, I’ve made it a point to take bald selfies and pictures with my husband. During the first time I lost my hair, I did not take as many pictures because I wasn’t comfortable. Looking back, I wanted more of those photos because I actually look OK bald (not great, but not bad!). I’ve learned to accessorize with earrings, makeup, hats, scarves and jewelry. I’ve learned that my head gets really cold when I sleep, and I must wear a cap on it at night.

Most all, my greatest accomplishment of losing my hair is that I feel more free. I do not need a wig to define me or any hair to define who I am this time. I am comfortable in this skin, proud to be so, and not looking back. Cancer does not and will not define me with hair, and that is strength that I have found so greatly in my loss.

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