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Learning to Cope With Cancer-related Hair Loss

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 3 January 2022
Learning to Cope With Cancer-related Hair Loss

Temporary hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy. For women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment, it can be an upsetting experience. Kerry faced hair loss head-on, before starting her treatment for breast cancer. "Losing my hair was difficult for me to process initially,” she says. “I decided to make it easier on myself by chopping it off before treatment, because I knew that it would be very devastating for me to wake up to seeing my ponytail on my pillowcase or seeing chunks of it falling out while stroking it.

For Kerry cutting her hair was also therapeutic. “‘The Big Chop,’ for me, was a way of easing the process of this devastating diagnosis,” she says. “Chopping my hair was also a way of coping with the pain.”

In most cases, hair loss due to cancer treatment is temporary, but it can take several months to regrow your hair. How each woman responds to her hair loss is personal. Kerry wanted to wear a wig. "It was important for me to get a wig because in order to ‘walk in my healing,’ I needed to be able to look in the mirror and see myself the way that I wanted the end result to be: healed,” she says. “And rocking a bald head was not how I saw myself healed, healthy, and whole."

Some women choose to wear wigs, scarves, hats, or turbans. Other women are comfortable wearing nothing. Any of those choices is the right one if it feels right for you.

If you are thinking about getting a wig, I suggest asking yourself: “What is my lifestyle?” This will help define the correct hair solution for you. Also identify what’s important to you right now. For example:

  • Are there people in your life who you don’t want to know about your cancer diagnosis?
  • Do you have a romantic partner in your life whom you want to feel sexy with?
  • Would you feel more like you if you wore a wig?

If getting a wig is going to make you feel more relaxed, get a wig. This is about you. You are the most significant thing happening right now — your joy, your environment, your treatment, and what you are going to create during this time, when you want to have the least amount of stress possible. I always believe that if you can look and feel you, it really lessens the stress.

Getting a wig can bring some light into this tough time in your life. You have full control over the process because you get to choose your look: short hair, long hair, curly hair, red hair — the sky’s the limit. Transformation can happen in an instant if you are open to it. It doesn’t have to be connected to your cancer. This is a time you can be anybody you want to be. If you want to rock it differently, you have thousands of wigs to decide from. Go for it!

Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsResourcesCancerchemotherapy side effects

Associations

  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia