chemo hair loss day


It’s Saturday morning.  I love to sleep in, I mean I love it.  But here I am staring  at the ceiling long before the alarm would go off if it were a workday.  In a few hours, we are going to go shave off what is left of my hair.

I am ready for this.  I have prepared for it, I knew it was coming, I’ve talked through it with Sam and my mom, I have my wig ready.  But still… I think it’s pretty normal for a woman to be a bit shaken by it.  It’s a big deal.

me with my "before" hair

It started Thursday at work.  I was in the bathroom and I fluffed my hair, and came away with a small handful of loose hair.  Not enough to make any difference in my appearance, but enough to make my pulse accelerate, and make me realize that this was the beginning.  Still, such a small amount, I thought I might have a few more days, maybe even through the weekend.  Nothing more happened Thursday, which encouraged that hope.

Friday morning, however, was another story.  A few larger loose handfuls were ready to be groomed out when I awoke.  Still nothing visible when you looked at me, but enough that I called the Image Recovery Center so that I could make the appointment to come in and get the buzz cut and pick up my wig.

I had been counting on getting right in and getting it over with, having been told that hair loss was top priority and other appointments would be rescheduled to deal with hair loss when it started,  but there was an important meeting and I ended up having to wait until Saturday.  Waiting one day for anything normal wouldn’t be a big deal, but this…  I had gotten myself psyched to do it, I was ready to get it done.  I didn’t want to have to drag it out and think about it for 24 hours.  I understood it wasn’t Becky’s fault, but it was just hard to deal with.

Friday morning handful

Friday morning, I did break down and cry.  Yes, my hair will grow back, but the probability is very high that it will not look like it does now, and my hair is something I like about me.  It’s something my husband loves and I feel really bad for him that he has to lose it.  It’s been a highly identifying factor of who I am – I’m almost always referred to first as “the curly redhead” when people are describing me.

I also realized that up till now there has been very little tangible evidence of the cancer.  Other than my port, which has a scar, and is raised and palpable under the skin of my chest, there’s nothing I see or feel that says I’m sick.  I said to Sam as I cried, “Now every time I look in the mirror I am going to be reminded I have cancer.  I can’t get away from it.”  He held me and let me cry for a while ( he is so good at that), and a thought came to me.  I sat up and said to him, “No.  The cancer didn’t take my hair, the chemo did.  This is proof it’s working.  Every time I look in a mirror, I’m going to be reminded that we are fighting the cancer and  we are winning.”

Friday night - about 80% of hair gone

Friday night hair loss

So later last night as the hair started coming out by handful after handful, I stood there in the bathroom filling the trash can with it and saying “Die cancer cells!  Every hair cell dies, a cancer cell dies.  We are going to beat this thing!”  There is something very surreal about watching myself in a mirror pulling handfuls of my own hair out of my head as I say “Die, cancer cells, die!” in a crazy, angry, threatening voice.  As each minute passed, I looked less and less like myself and felt more like I was in some kind of crazy movie.

I spent a very restless night.  I wasn’t comfortable – tiny hairs kept falling out and tickling my neck and face.  It felt like something was crawling on me.  (I can see why they say to come in and get the buzz cut as soon as it starts to fall.)  Friday was just such a frustrating day.  No matter how much I tried to groom the loose hair out, whether with my hands, a brush, a towel, it didn’t matter.  It just kept coming.  And I just kept looking stranger.  None of this contributed to relaxed, peaceful slumber.

Saturday morning - last real hair pic

When I got up this morning at the obnoxious hour of 6:30 on a Saturday, guess what happened?  That’s right, more hair fell out.  At this point, it’s everywhere in the house; on the floors, in the sink, all over the bed, in my bathrobe, in my clothes, even on my breakfast fiber bar.  Yuck!

Finally it was time to go to the Image Recovery Center.  I had anticipated being sad, but I was just impatient.  I wanted it done and over with.  In the car, Sam and I discussed again that this was our tangible proof that we were beating the cancer.  I decided that the bald head, whether in a wig, scarf, cap or naked, was going to be my warrior suit.  We are going to win.

My first (pretty sure last) Mohawk. I thought I looked pretty cool.

Becky was as warm and welcoming as ever.  She quickly got me into a beauty-shop chair and started the buzz cut.  This is a very strange sensation, the vibration along my skull and the sudden previously never-felt coolness.  When my head was about half done, she asked if I want a Mohawk.  Heck, yeah!  My daughter Courtney will LOVE it!  So we did the Mohawk and took some pictures, then finished the GI Jane buzz.  I had expected to cry, but instead we were laughing the entire time.

GI Jane

Becky took time to show me different types of sleep caps, scarves, fashion hats and so on, and to work with me on styling the wig, even trimming it to look more natural.

My "new hair". Cute?

I have heard that for many women losing their hair is the hardest part of the battle with cancer.  I know that I am very blessed in so many ways, and here is one more.  This wonderful hospital where I get treatment just happens to have a place called the Image Recovery Center, and that place just happens to be run by Becky.  And tonight, not only have I not cried all day, but I feel beautiful.

Aren’t two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground.  Even the hairs on your head are counted.
So don’t be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:29-31

20 thoughts on “chemo hair loss day

  1. Joel Jorgenson

    Hi Kim. I didn’t know you had cancer. Carolyn said its treatable. I’m sorry to hear that. I read your blog. That was good to get an insight into what people w/ cancer go through. Thanks for sharing. What kind of cancer? What’s the prognosis? JOEL

    • Hi Joel – I have lymphoma, and it is treatable. My oncologist expects a cure, which is the best possible prognosis, so I am really in a very good position. I expect 6 rounds of chemo, and go for #2 on Friday.

  2. Anne Novak

    Kim — you’re absolutely inspiring and you look beautiful. Love your attitude towards this awful cancer. How lucky for Sam as well, to have you stay positive. We’re thinking of you!

    Anne Novak

  3. Dave Haas

    I think the new hairdo looks GREAT!!

    The mohawk would be even cooler if you did the whole multi-colored thing. Seems I remember a senior class “prophecy” from your high school days that mentioned rainbow hair.

    Love you, sis!

    • I guess you didn’t see me that often in the mid-80s… I did have rainbow hair – spiked, even. Just on occasion, though, and probably never for family get-togethers. Glad you like the new “do”. I think it’s sassy.

  4. Lisa Eytzen

    Hey Kim! You do look wonderful, and I love the new hairdo… very YOU! You are so blessed to have Sam walk with you through this, and I know that you will allow God to work through you and this situation! You are in our prayers, and we love you!

  5. Oh, dear Kim, believe it or not, I think I like the “new” hairdo even better than the old–it so much better reflects your steadfast spirit. I love, to, the “motto” “Die, cancer cells die.” (I’ll remember to pray for you now, every time I comb my hair). You are living testimony to “finding joy in all things” and the truth that it’s our attitude, not our circumstances that determine our joy. A favorite quote of mine these days is, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Thank you for bringing me into His presence this morning. (And thanks for sending me the link to your blog so I can keep up with you!) Love ya, sister.

  6. Trisha Batchelor

    Gives a whole new meaning and understanding to the verse “But the very hairs of your head are numbered.” Mathew 10:30. You look so Beautiful!

  7. Jerri Thompson

    You are one brave woman, allowing the world to see you without hair! I love your wig; you look great. I also like your attitude about beating cancer. You go, girl!

  8. viv christopherson

    Kim – I laughed outloud when I saw your pictures! What a GREAT attitude to deal with the hair loss! I like the thought that the hair loss proves the chemo is doing it’s job! The wig looks great on you, when you’re done with it I’ll borrow it for the days I can’t do anything with my frizzy mop! You are beautiful inside & outside!
    Love Ya , Viv

  9. Michelle

    Heck ya, it’s cute!! Of course, like Courtney, I’m diggin’ the mohawk! Too bad there wasn’t a full front picture though… I would have liked to marry it with the image of you I mentioned the other day on FB. By the way, you don’t always have to be “the curly redhead”… you can be “the cute, crazy redhead”. Hmm, then again… you’ve always been that.

    Love you, dollface.

  10. Deb Miller

    Hi Kim,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I think you are a very gifted and talented writer!

    Deb Miller

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