Chemo Hair Loss and Care Tips – Be prepared!
“While no one undergoing chemo is every ready for their hair to fall out – there are some things you can do to be prepared, which lessens the impact” (a little), according to DeOndra Brennan, an oncology nurse at Integris Cancer Institute and licensed cosmetologist. But her best qualification to speak to the subject comes from her own experience as a cancer survivor, who learned about hair loss the hard way. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage 2, triple positive in 2016.
DeOndra was in a hurry getting ready to go to work and had just gotten out of the shower. “All of a sudden, two big clumps of my long hair came out in each hand. I knew this was coming, but I wasn’t quite ready, (if you ever are?) It was still a shock. I grabbed a towel to dry the rest, and it all just fell into my towel in a big tangled mess. I borrowed my husband’s mustache shaver and tried to clean up what was left, and he helped shave the back.”
“I’d like to say my hair didn’t define me, but I realized I was pretty attached to it. It was part of me. Fortunately, I already had a wig so I put it on and went to work. We had a continuing education seminar that day, and I was in a big crowd of people. I felt really strange, and my head itched.”
Today DeOndra volunteers with T. Teal to help cancer patients with their Brave Shave, a choice she wishes she had made. “I really recommend having a Brave Shave and losing your hair on your own terms. At least you are in control, not caught off guard. “
DeOndra says she loves helping others with their Brave Shaves. “I have been where they are, and I can tell them it will grow back. I feel I can make a difference in someone else’s life – and pay it forward.”
Here are some tips if you are going to lose your hair during chemotherapy:
> Be sure to speak to your Oncologist and inquire if hair loss is a side effect of the chemotherapy you will be taking.
> If you have long hair, start trimming it shorter before you lose it (or try a new pixie cut). It won’t be such a shock.
> Buy a chemo nightcap to catch the hairs that come out at night instead of seeing them all over your pillow.
> Make a plan, decide if you want to lose your hair on your own terms by shaving it or begin mentally preparing yourself for the day it will fall out.
> When you take a shower or bath, use a little shampoo and conditioner on your scalp. It feels more “normal: and is good for your scalp.
> When you get out of the shower or bath, wrap your head in a little turban or towel. It also feels more normal with something on your head to keep the heat from escaping.
> When it starts growing back, it will be a little itchy. As much as you want to let it grow, trim the first new fuzzy hairs, which are damaged from the chemo. Then the new hair that follows will be healthier strands.
> Be sure to have your wig \or another hat on hand before you lose your hair. Several places give discounts to cancer patients, including Cece’s. The American Cancer Society has new wigs they give out for free.
> It’s ok to step out without the comfort of hair. People may stare, but really they are just admiring your strength.
> Remember: YOUR HAIR WILL GROW BACK!