Coping with hair loss from cancer treatment
A diagnosis of cancer brings with it a whole host of difficult emotions for a patient and their family. Losing your hair can be one of the distressing challenges faced by many on their already arduous journey through treatment.
Kate Corney was 29 years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2014, and remembers the trauma well.
Kate says: “When I started losing my hair, it was coming out in chunks. I remember taking a shower one day and it was possibly one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever done because I washed my hair and it was just streaming down the drain. I then went to brush it in the mirror and the brush was just filled with these clumps of hair.”
Unwilling to be brought down by the experience she visited her hairdresser.
“I decided I’d had enough and would take back control of my hair loss.
My hairdresser very kindly shaved my head,” she said.
“I fully intended to wear a wig or scarves, but actually, at that moment, I remember my partner looking at me and saying you look beautiful – and he really meant it. So we went and bought some earrings and I spent about three or four months being totally bald and really happy.”
However, many people prefer the look and cover of a wig or scarf. Hair can be a big part of a person’s image and self-esteem; losing your hair means facing up to the fact that you are fighting cancer, and can be a clear indication to others that you are going through treatment when you may not be ready to talk about it. Dealing with the loss of your tresses can be a hugely emotional experience on top of an already difficult time.
Macmillan Cancer Support offers advice on dealing with hair loss due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and offers tips on how to prepare.
- Eat a well-balanced diet before treatment to help your body cope better.
- Talk to friends and family about losing your hair.
- Buy a hat or other headwear to protect your head.
- Talk to other people who have hair loss to share tips on how to cope.
- If you decide to wear a wig, buy one before treatment starts. It will be easier to match it to your colour and style, and you can get used to wearing it.
- Buy products to help you cope with losing your eyebrows and eyelashes.
- You could ask a salon that specialises in styling people affected by cancer to cut your hair.
“Your hair will usually grow back after chemotherapy, but you may find that it isn’t quite the same as before. It may be curlier, finer or a different colour. You might find that it grows unevenly or in patches, but generally we find that these changes are rarely permanent,” says Sue Green, Senior Information Development Nurse at Macmillan Cancer Support.
“Hair re-growth after radiotherapy depends on the type and number of treatments you’ve had, and the area of the body that was affected. If your hair grows back, it usually starts 3–6 months after treatment. It may be patchy, thinner or a different colour.”
Whatever works for you, at Salon Ten we are 100% supportive of all our clients. Just pop in and see us in our private fitting room, and we’ll see what suits you.
For more information or to speak to someone about cancer treatment and hair loss, contact the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm.