Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
Finding out I had cancer and needed lots of treatment was difficult to take and a lot to absorb. First there was surgery, then months of chemotherapy. It was painful both physically and emotionally, but nothing prepared me for my loss of hair. You'd think that compared to the more serious aspects of having ovarian cancer, vanity and hair wouldn't matter as much. You'd think that it would seem tiny in comparison. But that wasn't how it was with me, and I suspect many others.
Losing one's hair is sort of the "straw that breaks the camel's back.” Looking as lousy as I felt and feeling sorry for myself sort of all came together the day I saw that first brush full of hair. Winter and the cold weather was coming on fast, so I kept what I had for as long as I could, then resigned myself to a trendy little wig. I faced it, overcame it and did the best I could. I realized that, for now at least, I would live without my usual look. That should be the end of my tale.
It was the thoughtless remarks that annoyed me as much as losing my own hair! Several people asked me whether I was going to shave my head. These were women who had never taken chemotherapy drugs or dealt with this dilemma of unwanted hair shedding. Since I hadn't indicated I was going to take my hair off, why should anyone ask? Also, my hair loss wasn't just an emotional problem, it was painful. My scalp hurt and felt sore, so I had to keep a soft flannel hat on most of the time.
I see it now as just another bump in the road of my healing process of several years ago -- a side effect of the medicines I took. My hair grew back and, like so many others, I got over the pain. But I could have done without the insensitive comments which added more angst to my situation. Cancer did make me rather thin-skinned. It's easy to get upset when you’re already on edge. Let's think before we speak, before offering unsolicited advice or questions to those who are hurt and dealing with cancer. Let's be gentle (and thoughtful!) with the remarks.