Thursday, October 6, 2011

Leaves Fall Down, Hair Falls Out

On Tuesday I needed to go into work to take care of some of my cases that only I can handle. I start the day with a lovely hot shower, first shampooing my hair then coating it in a luxurious (yep, expensive) conditioner that my sister’s friend said helped prevent her hair loss when she had chemo. As I remove my hand from my hair, there are quite a few stands of hair on it. What?? I thought this wasn’t supposed to happen until after my second round of chemo which doesn’t begin until the next day.

Sure enough, there is more. Quite a bit. I am afraid to towel off my head after the shower and instead brush it right away. Scads of hair cling to the brush. I am afraid to see how I now look, but you can’t tell really. It is more of a thinning of my hair making my part a little wider, rather than clumps or handfuls leaving vacant areas of scalp. Whew! I was supposed to go wig shopping on Friday ahead of all this, but didn’t because, as the song goes, I got so damned depressed.

I make it through the day at work and in time for an appointment at a very caring and dignified little shop with a hairdresser who has had breast cancer. The first wig works.  Now to get the right color. We sit in the natural light of the sun by a large window to match my hair to sample hair colors. I let John and the hairdresser decide because they can see more of my hair than I can. We order the wig for pick-up in a few days. Meanwhile I get a head scarf that sets off the unusual color of my irises: a blue inner rim surrounded by a green rim.

The next day during chemo, I let my fingers glide through my hair and ten strands come out. Again; 30 this time. Then 25, then 20, and on and on it goes. I saw “50/50” over the weekend (a good movie: good acting, good story, good balance of humor with heart). But the guy did not look better with a shaved head. I cannot go that radical. I can’t think why John and Anne can’t cut off some of my hair tonight at home.  Then again, I can think why and decide I deserve a professional haircut because, as the commercial goes, I’m worth it.

My hairdresser has broken her arm so I am assigned to a young woman about Anne’s age (mid-20s). I tell her I have cancer and my hair has begun falling out, and would she please cut all my hair down to about one inch from my scalp. She says that she wants to make it look feminine. Good luck with that, I think.

She massages my head with oil and I am grateful that she even wants to touch it. She washes it thoroughly and gently. She coats it in luxurious conditioner (yep, expensive) and covers my head with a hot towel. Then she rinses my hair, carefully towels it partially dry and begins to work her magic. 

My medi-port shows partly through my salon gown and I say what it is. I'm about to explain it to her when she says, “Oh, I know all about those ports. My grandmother has one.” I immediately age ten years.

She finishes the cut, blows my hair dry, primps it, and gives me the mirror. I cannot believe what a cute and practical cut she has given me, all the time treating me with respect and dignity. I tip her well.

John is delighted with it. Anne approves of it as well. On Tuesday, Tom finally was allowed into America on his immigrant spousal visa, and came home to his wife and to America. He and Anne are living with us until they can get on their feet financially. When he sees me this evening, he says my cut is “becoming.” I love my son-in-law.
And here’s the best part: My hair has stopped falling out; just a strand or two here and there. Who'd have thought that even chemo can be killed with kindness!

© Jean DiMotto, 2011    Website:

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