The thing I want most in the world right now…it’s not money, diamonds or gold. It’s a blow dry. I would sell my granny for one (I don’t have a granny anymore but you get my drift). I dream of those days sitting in the hairdressers chair with her pulling a brush violently through my locks with the hairdryer on the ‘heat of hell’ setting. The mild discomfort is absolutely worth it as she magically transforms my bushy shaggy hair into a shiny, bouncy mane worthy of a hair advert ‘swish’.
I'm a fan of a post blow-dry selfie!
My last blow-dry
When my hair feels fabulous, I feel fabulous. And it’s not even about how it looks to other people. It’s about how it FEELS. When I move my head and my hair bounces around my shoulders. When I twist it around my fingers and it feels smooth and shiny in my hands. I’ve always worn it long and felt it was my crowning glory, my best feature. The current state of my hair could best be described as ‘bag lady chic’. It’s a look I’ve been honing since the 28th of December 2016. It’s a date etched in my mind, not because it’s when I started the horrible chemo, it’s because it was the day of my last blow dry. I had it cut shorter that morning to reduce the weight on the root and make it more manageable. The layered ‘long-bob’ the stylist gave me looked fab as I left my salon in Selfridges at the Trafford Centre. I unashamedly stopped amongst the Jimmy Choo display outside to snap a few selfies to send to Steve and my mum. Fast forward to the end of the day - dampened down, slathered in conditioner, post 3 hours under a cold cap and my days of gorgeous hair were long gone and so it has continued.
My last blow-dry after having my hair cut shorter on 28th December 2016
Paxman Cold Cap
But every time I bemoan the state of my hair I also thank my lucky stars and the makers of the Paxman Cold Cap that it is still here. By all accounts I should have been bald as a coot by about mid-January. But my hair is still hanging in there. A bit thinner in places and looking a right state but it’s there. And that is the biggest victory in my punch up with cancer.
I wanted to write a blog about keeping my hair from the very start but got all superstitious about it and feared if I wrote it my hair would take note and maliciously jump out of my head to prove me wrong! Ridiculous I know but I’d do anything to keep it. I was vaguely aware of the existence of the cold cap before I was diagnosed and once I was told I would lose my hair I was determined to try it. I read some people saying it could be quite painful, I said it would have had to have been pretty bad to stop me; I would have crawled over hot coals not to go bald.
I should point out here, as with all of my blogs, this is just my experience and my feelings. I have huge admiration for the ladies who rock the scarves, hats and bald heads. I feel you are much braver than me! I was prepared to wear a wig if necessary and was very lucky to have my amazing friends raise money for a rather fabulous one, custom made to match my own hair. I still have it on standby, ready to go, just in case.
Even when the cold cap works, you have some shedding. I was warned about this but was quite smug to get to the end of cycle 2 with pretty much a full head of hair. I was told the biggest loss was normally after cycle 2 but mine decided the throw me a curve ball and do it at the end of cycle 3! Just to keep me on my toes. I know it speeded up because I count the hairs on my brush when I brush it twice a day. Sad I know, but it helps me keep a track of peaks and troughs in shedding. We all apparently lose 50-100 hairs a day as part of the natural growth cycle. I see less than 20 on the brush as a personal victory. You become a bit hair obsessed when it starts falling out. I’ve spent more minutes than I care to admit playing the ‘Who’s hair is it anyway game’. With a big blonde golden retriever lolloping around the house shedding hair with abandon it honestly can be tricky to work out if it’s one of his or mine! And when I lose hair from the darker areas that aren’t highlighted (I’m not a natural blonde you know ;-) if it’s short then I debate whether it is mine or Steve’s. Fun times.
But it’s only me that really notices this. Outwardly you wouldn’t spot a thing. I’ve had a few confused looks at various cancer related appointments I’ve turned up to as people do a double take that I still have hair. My surgeon even had to check I’d started my chemo when I met with her the other day. That was a good moment!
Cancer robs you of a lot of things. I refuse my hair to be one of them, if I can possibly help it. I personally, felt that going bald and having to wear a wig or scarf would have made me feel incredibly self-conscious. It’s like a sign-post to other people “Hi I have cancer, come make sympathetic faces at me”. But with a full-head of hair my disguise is complete. To look at me you’d never know I was ill. And that’s how I like it. If I can fool others then I can fool myself as well. When I catch sight of myself in the mirror, I still look like me. I don’t look ill so I don’t feel ill.
The heat is not on
One of the only down sides while using the cold cap is that all heat sources are banned. You hair is weakened and a bit unstable so anything that adds heat to the follicles or pulls at the roots won’t help its cause. And my hair really needs a hairdryer and straighteners to whip it into shape. Hair colour is also off the cards until a couple of months after chemo finishes as your scalp can be sensitive. So I already have an inch of dark roots (with a few silver highlights!) But while my hair may look a bit of a shambles right now a lot of the reason I’m doing this is for the long game. The worst part of the hair loss for me would have been waiting for it to grow long again. I’ve never had much patience and don’t have the hairdressing skills to deal with that tricky ‘growing out’ phase. The thought of it being years before I had long hair again was heart-breaking.
So I am embracing my unruly hair, trying not to complain and am being grateful the miracle cold cap has worked. But I’m still counting down the days to my first post chemo visit to the hairdresser!
Looking forward to my hair looking like this again!
** I’ll be posting hair part 2 in a couple of days with all the hints and tips I’ve picked up on chemo hair care routine.