Women facing breast cancer are some of the bravest women in the world. Their strength exceeds them but they’re still human beings with insecurities and for many their appearance becomes a real concern. They begin to wonder what will happen to their hair during chemotherapy – will they lose it and if they do, will it be dramatic and come out in clumps or will it be subtle with a few strands here and there or best case scenario, will it be spared? While some women are lucky enough to have their hair not affected by chemo, most women will lose some or all of their hair within a few weeks of starting. Unfortunately, just like not being able to choose to be afflicted by breast cancer or not, hair loss is out of a woman’s realm of control.
Hair loss in breast cancer patients occurs during chemo because the drugs are meant to target rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, these drugs are not restricted to attacking only sick cells and since hair follicles are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body, although healthy, they too become targets. The extent of hair loss is specific to each patient, depending on their treatment plan which includes the type of drugs used, the amount of time between each treatment and the length of time necessary to undergo treatment. At undoubtedly the scariest point in life, it’s only accentuated by the fact that you may be more baldheaded than the day you were born and have no say in the matter.
The thought of the impending physical change of hair loss from chemo can lead even the toughest women to feel insecure about their image. There are studies that show some women may even fear hair loss more than losing a breast. The loss of a breast can be concealed but hair loss is more difficult to hide – you can’t live your life with a paper bag over your head (nor should you want to because you’re beautiful and brave!) So most women start to weigh their options and finally settle on what is most comfortable for them. While for some a simple scarf or baseball cap is enough, for others wigs are the answer.
The good thing to know is there are options. Being baldheaded is only temporary and depending on personal preference, self-esteem, and comfort level, there are solutions in the meanwhile.
Wigs are an easy way to take back some control of your appearance. You can even have fun with them. Play with wild and crazy looks just because you can or reinvent your look by playing with different styles while you wait for your hair to grow back. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that short bob you always wanted to try out but was never brave enough to chop your long locks for looks fabulous on you!
Here are a few tips on getting ready for a wig:
- Cut your hair short before starting chemotherapy. It’s less traumatic to lose shorter clumps of hair than long ones and it’s easier to fit a wig over short hair.
- Cutting your hair short lets you get used to the look that so when real hair starts to grow in, it’ll take less time to start feeling like yourself again. Plus, shorter hair is cooler and since wigs can feel hot, especially in summer months, it’s important to consider.
- Look through salon books and hairstyle magazines to find the cut that’s right for you.
- Interview a few hairdressers. Find one that has worked on wigs before and book an appointment to talk before the actual cut.
Here are some tips on finding and selecting a wig:
- Reach out to your hospital’s cancer center or local breast cancer organizations to get a list of wig specialists in your area.
- Once you have found your hairdresser, they may be able to suggest wig shops. Looking for a little more privacy than going to a store? Some wig specialists will come to your home with options to choose from.
- Check at your salon is they offer special services for women going through cancer therapy. Once you have selected a wig, some salons will to style it a variety of ways.
- Wigs made with real hair can be expensive, anywhere from $800 to $3,000, and can be harder to care for than your own hair while synthetic wigs can look and feel just as good with a much cheaper price tag, ranging from $30 to $500, and need very little care. Shop around to find what is right for you.
- Color is probably the most important issue in choosing a wig. Choose a shade somewhat lighter than your own. Chemotherapy can affect skin tone and less contrast is generally more flattering and won’t call attention to your complexion. Wig hair is also thicker than natural hair so even if the shade may be the same as yours, it will appear darker.
- Consider a “fun wig!” When you need to boost your mood, throw on your fun wig and show the world just how brave you really are!
SCARVES AND HATS
- Buy scarves in all different colors and patterns. They can be a fun way to accessorize any outfit!
- Get an array of fun and funky hats – from baseball caps, to straw boater hats, to fedoras, and military-style hats. This is your chance to be wild and imagine living your life as your favorite period character from a movie.
Filed in: Coping
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- breast cancer hair extension | July 25, 2012