Stuck between a Rock and a Bald Place

I’ve been teasing my man for a few years now, betting him $50 that one day he’ll be sporting the old Friar Tuck look as his hair loss slowly increases. As it turns out, Karma’s a bitch as I’ve awaited my own imminent hair loss over the past week.

I’ve been stuck between a rock and bald place every time I looked in the mirror, or brushed my hair, or lifted my head from the pillow.

Prior to my breast cancer diagnosis, the words chemo & cancer went hand in hand with hair loss. Images of bald heads and eyebrow-less faces would come to mind symbolising a sinister battle ahead. One of the many things that I’ve learned over the past 8 weeks is that this was a naive misconception as not all types of chemo means that you’ll be lose your hair. However in my case, I was told straight up that I would have temporary complete hair loss during the course of my 5 month Chemo treatment.

This side effect is due to the chemo combination that I’m having : AC  (A – Adriamycin (doxorubicin) C – Cyclophosphamide) . It’s an aggressive grade 3 cancer so they’re treating it aggressively so I’m having a dense dose every 2 weeks for 4 cycles, rather than the usual dose every 3 weeks.So 2 months of AC Chemo.

After this I continue with another type of chemo (sorry memory deceives me right now – seems to be a common occurrence of chemo brain) for 12 cycles every week. So 3 months of this chemo too.

16 cycles in total. 5 months. 150 days ish. 16 days down, 134 days to go!

The oncologists and nurses said my hair should start falling out between week 2-4, so right on cue, Day 14 the chunks started shedding.

Waiting for the “effects” to kick in kinda killed me. I was so sick of pulling out clumps of hair whenever I attempted to put it back in a pony tail, or to wash it in the shower. Making abstract Hair Tile Art is fun for about 2 mins. Vacuuming hair balls from the floor and carpet ain’t so much. Nor is the feeling of an itchy sore scalp as the hair falls onto my pillow during the night. It was time. So the Shave & Champagne Celebration was set for Saturday 17th!

I won’t lie, I was nervous of course. I was nervous about how I would feel afterwards. Until this point I hadn’t really felt like a “cancer patient.” Yeah sure I’d been to dozens of appointments, had many tests, many tears, and of course had two cycles of chemo, but the reality of it all hadn’t really sunk in completely.

Over the past few months I have had to let go of so much control. And it’s been really bloody challenging as I’m a planner, someone who likes taking control and making things happen. So losing this power (did I ever really even have this power or did I just  think I did?) has been hard. No control over my test results, No control over whether my body will respond to chemo, No control over how many embryo’s I would have to freeze, No control over whether the cancer has reached my lymph nodes, No control over my future…

… Well Fuck you cancer, I’ve actually still got the most powerful & important form of control and that’s how I choose to react to this shitty situation.

So with my imminent hair loss approaching at a rapid speed, the solution was simple:

$20 Remington Shave Kit + Champagne + Loved ones for support

Tunes were on, tears were shed, laughs were had and with that the buzz cut was cut! Seany was my absolute rock as usual, so was the obvious lead shaver dominating the undercut, mini pixie Mohawk and the final hair do which was a Number 1 shave.

As soon as it was done I sobbed as I held onto Sean as I let go of the anxiety, pain, and I guess, grief of what I’ve experienced and will continue to face over the next few months.

The release was liberating.

Today as I write this post, what was kind -of -a cute pixie hair cut is now a balding patchy mess which is a physical, and  confronting reminder of my “illness.” But more importantly it’s actually a reminder that my hair, and also breasts which will ultimately be removed, don’t define me or make me, me.

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