Category: Hair - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
I get alot of questions from friends (that live far away) about the status of my hair.

I've been told a picture is worth a thousand words... so here you go!
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My hair is back!  I've even had a haircut!  It was glorious.  Although when I walked in, the stylist looked at me and asked "sooo what exactly are we doing today?"  She should've just said "You don't have any hair to cut!"

But I did.  And I wanted it "cleaned up".  Because when you have super short hair... it's super obvious (to me at least) when you've skipped a haircut.  And by super obvious I mean probably not obvious at all.  Or so everyone here reassured me ("Oh you're crazy!  I can't even tell!" was the most common comment).

So the funny part about THIS stage is this.  I spent all of chemo (about 5 months) totally bald.  And it was wierd.  Because every woman has some sort of habit or fidget (for lack of a better word) that centers around her hair.  Like pushing it behind her ear.  Or tossing it over her shoulder.  Or... I dunno, combing/brushing it? :)

And it was SO WIERD to not have hair there to mess with.

Now I have hair.  And it FEELS... well.... WIERD!  Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to have my hair back.  But at it's current length, it feels really long (it's like maybe an inch long!  HA!).  And unkempt.  And... just... strange.

My husband laughs at me.  I think he finds it funny because this is more of a "guy thing" to discuss.  And I'm sure I used to tease him a little when he'd complain about his hair feeling really long because... oh... I dunno, it had grown a whole 1/4 of an inch.

But now I get it! 

So my hair is there.  It's getting long.  So far it's straight (YAY) but I'll wait awhile longer before I declare it curl free.  I used to have LOTS of curl, so straight would be quite the change for me.  It's still the same color... or maybe a shade lighter.  But all in all, it's pretty close to the way it was before cancer.  No chemo curl.  No color change (unless you count the occasional white hair that cropped up... which I'll blame on cancer and definitely NOT my advancing age).

Along with my hair, life is slowly heading back towards "normal".  But I think that's a topic for another day :)  Generally speaking, I'm happy, healthy, feeling energetic and alot like myself pre-cancer... if not better.

I love my life.  I am so lucky to have it.  And I know I say this all the time, but I am truly blessed. 
 
So it's been awhile.  I figured I owe everyone a bit of an update.

First, the boobs.  I've had 4 fills now (with that awful caulk gun) and think that I'm juuuuuust about right in the boob size department.  Which, by the way, is alot harder to figure out than you might think.

Going into this, Chris and I agreed that all I want is my pre-baby/pre-lumpectomy boobs back.  They weren't huge, they weren't tiny, they were juuuuuuuuuuuuust right.  BUT... it's been awhile since I've seen my old boobs.  So I'm having a tough time remembering what they looked like :)

To complicate things even more, before surgery, I had one D cub boob and one B cup boob (at the same time).  So my internal metric of what the "right size" is has been totally compromised.  I keep looking down at my foobs (that's cancer talk for "fake boobs") thinking "are these too big?  are they too small?  They look smaller than I remember... but what if I end up with boobs like Pam Anderson?!?  I SO do not want to be "that girl with the huge tits".  Do I dare to go bigger?"

I know, I know, why not just go try on one of my old bras?  That should solve the problem easy peasy right?  WELL there's a small problem with the SHAPE of my foobs.  They're just big round balls that sit on my chest.  So I could try on a B cup bra, a C cup bra, and a D cup bra... and they all kind of fit.  Since my foobs have no "squish" factor, it's difficult to know if my cup overfloweth :)

So... every week between fills, I go through a routine of trying on bras, seeing what's comfortable, trying to figure out are they "big enough?  or too big?" 

To top it all off, a few fellow survivors I've met have said they were disappointed after the exchange and felt like the end result was too small.  And I don't want to be disappointed.  I want to come out of surgery/recovery thinking "damn these are pretty!  It almost makes cancer worth it!"  (OK, nothing makes cancer worth it, but since these are my "consolation prize"... I wanna get it right).

Long story short, I think I finally hit the right size.  Not too huge, not too small.  So in another small fill or two (they overexpand so that there's some extra skin for the implant to drop into), I'll be ready for my exchange.  Which is VERY exciting :)

So that's enough about foobs. 

Time to update you on something MUCH deeper... HAIR!

Two days ago, I passed my 2 month "anniversary" from my last chemo treatment.  And check out all this hair!!
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And even better... I put on mascara for the first time this week!  I HAVE EYELASHES AGAIN!!!  You have no idea how much I missed my eyelashes!  I think I missed my eyelashes more than my hair...

I think in 2 more weeks, I might have enough hair to style it... or get a haircut??  maybe?!?!?

Guys, I am SOOOOO looking forward to my first haircut!  I know some survivors avoid EVER getting their hair cut for MONTHS after chemo, but I'm looking forward to having a "style" again.  Plus... my hair stylist gives the most AMAZING head massages.  AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!  I can't wait!!! 

And to top it all off, Chris is currently in the process of moving to St. Paul.  OUR REQUEST FOR COMPASSIONATE REASSIGNMENT WENT THROUGH!!!  I currently have a uhaul trailer sitting my driveway.  Chris got home last night.  We are officially done with Mississippi!

*sigh* 

I kinda feel like life is starting to go my way again.  Granted, by saying that on my blog, I've probably jinxed it.  But I can't help it.  Life is GREAT!  Really, REALLY great!  I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way. 
 
Tomorrow is my surgery.

EEEEEK!

I think I'm ready for it... maybe?

OK, I'm not really ready.  I feel like I'm finally getting back to "normal" from chemo and now I'm about to plunge into feeling like poo for a few more weeks. 

*sigh*

BUT for today, I will just keep telling myself that this is one BIG step towards being done with cancer treatment.  This is the last big hurdle.  There will be other smaller ones later, but this is the last big one.

I can do this.  I have to do this.  For future peace of mind, I HAVE to do this.  And when it is all over and done with, I know I will be happy I did it.

But for now... I'm just a little nervous.

So if you're the praying type, send some good thoughts and prayers my way.  Pray for my peace of mind.  Pray for the Lord to guide the hands of my surgeons and their team.  Pray for a speedy recovery.  And pray for pretty boobies :)

Since I probably won't be around for a week or two, I thought I should share a few photos of my fuzz with you.  My hair is growing back thicker... but I still look like a balding 35 year old guy that buzzes his head (so no one will know he's balding?).

And for the record, I really hate the stage my hair is at right now.  I kind of like extremes.  Bald or lots of hair.  The in between just looks wierd.  But I'm not willing to shave it again, so GROW HAIR, GROW!  GROW!!!
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I just want it to thicken up a bit... OK alot.
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Grow hair! Grow!!!!
 
Newsflash!  We're making some progress on the hair front.  Yes I'm excited that my hair is growing again. 

BUT Houston, we have a problem.  The hair is so thin and sparse that you can't really see it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words... so here's what I mean:
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Can you see my hair?

No?

Well here is a close up.  They're tiny, thin hairs that are so sparsely populated that you can barely see them.
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I know it will thicken in.  I know that I'll most likely end up with my full head of hair again.  But the question is, what to do until then?  Because I kind of feel like I have the hair of a 6 month old.  You know what I mean.  It's thin, there's not alot of it, and sometimes the kid still just looks bald.

So part of me wants to shave it.  Because I think looking like a woman that has severely thinning hair is worse than being bald. 

But part of me wants to keep it... because it's HAIR!  YAY!

I know that hopefully in about 4-6 weeks, I should have a BEAUTIFUL start on a full head of hair so by then, it'll be a moot point.  But what is a girl to do in the mean time?

*sigh* what a great dilemma to have :)
 
So I've covered most of the bald part of losing your hair.  The only thing I haven't done is shared my photos of when I shaved my head.  This would be because I lost my camera cord.  Thus I have no way of getting those photos off my camera for now.  Once I figure that out, I'll post my head shaving photos :)

Disclaimer: all photos you will see are from my phone, which means they are not of great quality.

So anywho, let's talk about head coverings.  Cancer patients have a plethora of head covering options.  You have hats, scarves, wigs, paper bags... you know, whatever catches your eye.

And before I went bald, I really had no idea what I'd want to wear.  I had a suspicion that I'd be more of a bald kind of girl, but I didn't want to go bald and realize I had an ugly head and THEN have to go shopping for stuff. 

Because that would be seriously traumatic.

So instead, I went wig shopping before I went bald. 

Now, I'm struggling with how to describe the thought of going wig shopping.  Maybe just sit and consider this for a moment if you're a female that has never shopped for hair before.  Does the idea appeal to you?  Does it totally freak you out? 

I was freaked out/mystified by it.  How, exactly, does one shop for hair?  Where does one go?  Do you just go into a shop full of wigs and try on everything you see?  What is the difference between human hair and synthetic?  Does synthetic LOOK fake?  Where can I even find a wig shop? 

Let's just say I was apprehensive about the whole event.  Because I like to KNOW about stuff before I shop for it.  And I knew NOTHING about wigs.  And the thought of going into a hair shop with wigs of every size, shape, color, and texture was overwhelming.

But it had to be done.  So the first question was WHERE to shop for one.  I went online and looked up wig shops in Minneapolis.  And found 2.  And they didn't have websites (I totally judge stores by websites).  And they sounded more like costume shops than wig shops (based on the store reviews on google).

So I googled "cancer wig shop" (or something like that) and found out about medical wig shops. 

A medical wig shop is a private, appointment only wig shop.  You get one-on-one time with the wig shop owner who teaches you everything you need to know about wigs and helps you find one that will work for you.  I felt like God had answered a prayer I wasn't even aware of having prayed.

So I called the proprietor of "It's Still Me" wig shop in Minneapolis.  Her name is Jan and she is a cancer survivor.  She could fit me in right away, so I drove over there (while waiting for my mom's flight to come in) and went through the wig shopping process.  It was fabulous.  Jan had the personal experience to educate me on what to expect when my hair did fall out.  She understood that I knew NOTHING about wigs and took the time to educate me on simple things like how to put it on, brush it, and how to wash it.  She even had a GREAT selection of scarves and hats and taught me how to tie them and wear them.  It was exactly what I needed.

It made the idea of living bald for a few months alot less scary because now I had options.  If I didn't feel like being bald for a day, I now had a variety of things I could do to cover it.  It was liberating and made me a whole lot more comfortable with the idea of being bald.

So here is the wig I picked up:
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Just picture it in dark brown...
I wanted something that was short, like my little pixie cut.  But I wanted it to be hand tied because those were lighter and less itchy.  So this was the shortest hand tied wig in the shop.  Jan then referred me to a stylist that specializes in cutting hairpieces.  Yes, a regular stylist COULD cut it, but wigs are a different texture than regular hair.  And if the stylist screws it up, it's not like the hair will grow back.

So I went to see the stylist and he cut my wig.

And I hated it.  It was big and bushy and I looked like a soccer mom with a bad haircut.

So I went back.  And he shortened it a little more and thinned it out a little so it wasn't quite so BIG.

Here is the result:
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It's a little messy but I had a 2 year old tugging on my leg while I was taking this photo in the bathroom mirror.
Verdict:  I don't love it.  I don't hate it.  I wear it to big work meetings where people might not know that I have cancer.  It gets the job done and generally looks pretty realistic.

Then I found out that the American Cancer Society gives away FREE wigs (I paid for the one above).  And I thought to myself, I would love to get a really fun wig.  Something totally unexpected.  Something I can just have fun with.  Why not?

And this is what I got:
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Yep.  It's red.  And long.  And totally fun.  I call this my "I'm pretending to be 23 and a party girl" wig.

So those are my wigs.  I don't wear either all that often.  I pretty much just wear them when I have a work event or when I just feel like "blending in" with other people. 

Next, we can discuss hats... I have alot of very fun hats!
 
For those of you who don't know, I believe in Murphy's Law.

Murphy's Law says this: if something CAN go wrong, it will.  And I personally feel that my life in the past year is an obvious example of that.  So much so that it is now humorous.

If I ever get a tattoo, it's going to say something like "Murphy can bite me!"

So while I had great intentions of writing a bunch of blogs this week and sharing photos of my wigs (yes, I have two)... murphy had other ideas.

And I got sick.  Like didn't go to work sick.  Which basically means I was almost dead.  OK, so maybe dead is an overexaggeration, but I felt like poo. 

I lost my voice completely.  And, just for the record, do you have any idea how difficult it is to reprimand a 2 year old in a whisper?!?!  Seriously.  For like the hour each day that I was out of bed and taking care of Caleb, he completely ignored me.  Or thought that the whispering was a game and would whisper everything back (which was really cute actually).

And on top of the loss of voice, my head hurt and my body hurt and I was all stuffy and snot was everywhere... and I was a whiney mess.  And I actually napped!!!!  I pretty much never nap.  I don't think I've taken a nap since AC (and prior to chemo, my last nap was in the weeks after giving birth). 

But basically, I turned into a big, whiney, crabby baby.  I usually hold it together a little better and "tough it out".  But this time around I just let myself be cared for.  Because I could.  My husband was home and I could lay back and be cared for without any guilt of inconveniencing anyone.  What bliss!

So I promise to write those blogs soon because I know a few people are DYING to see my wigs (aka Julie).  But as a teaser, I will leave you with two photos. 

First, here is a picture of the wig I got.  But mine is in a dark brown.  And I got it cut shorter. 
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Photo from Wigs.com. Wig is Nocturne from the Raquel Welch line
And here is a picture of my college basketball coach.  Why would I give you that?  Because I feel like her haircut is kind of what my wig looks like.  This isn't a bad thing.  But it IS wierd to me that I somehow ended up with my coach's hairstyle...
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Photo is from the Boston University Athletics website.
 
So good news.  We are WELL on our way to meeting our $2,500 goal for fundraising.  We already have over $1000 collected and we're planning on having a fundraising dinner next week. 

This has been so much fun.

I really mean that.  It's been fun to see my coworkers just take this whole fundraising thing to the next level.  In FACT 4 other men offered to shave their heads as well!  So it's on a bit of a graduated scale.  If we raised $500 by last Friday, my friend Warren would shave his head.  If we raise $1000 by this Friday, 2 more guys lose their hair.  So you get the idea of how this works.  In the end, it'll be 5 bald men... and EVERY SINGLE TIME I think about that, I laugh. 

It's awesome.

And it's STILL growing.  So now our communications manager is contacting local press to come be apart of it.  For two reasons, first to get more publicity for Hope Lodge.  And second, so we have loads of video and photos of the baldness :)

Thus, my old boss decided that maybe we should get some shirts made up for the baldies.  You know, since they'll be on TV and all.  My coworker Sarah (the brains behind the operation) and I were charged with coming up with some great slogan for the T-shirts.

Not being terribly inventive right now, I went onto the internet to see what I could find.  And boy oh boy, there were some GREAT ones.  And then there were some even BETTER ones that were wildly inappropriate.

Here are some examples of the ones we thought were both appropriate and entertaining:
1. Don't let Breast Cancer steal second base!
2. Bald... it's the new blonde.
3. I'm having a NO HAIR day.
4. I lost my hair, not my sense of humor.
5. Does this shirt make my head look bald?

Some that were not so appropriate, yet very entertaining:
1. Save a life, grope your wife.
2. F*ck cancer!
3. Chemo: about as cool as a honeymoon handjob.

And ones that I just find entertaining for myself:
1. I lost my boobs... I think I put them in my purse somewhere.
2. Looking for an assman.
3. I have chemobrain, what's your excuse?
4. I pay my oncologist BIG BUCKS for this hairstyle!
5. The chemo made me do it!
6. Of COURSE they're fake... the real ones tried to kill me!

I'm sure not all of these makes sense to y'all, especially considering I haven't yet touched on topics like chemobrain (chemo makes you dumb... D-U-M).

We're not quite sold on ANY of the sayings above for our Cancer Boyz, so if you come up with any others that are funny, please feel free to post them here.

On another note, remember when I asked for funny hat suggestions?  Well someone put a link to THIS in my comments section.  Yes.  It's a knit cap that looks like a BOOB.  Do you think that'd be inappropriate as a gift for all the guys shaving their heads? :)
 
What would you do if you saw me wearing this:
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Yes.  That is a hat in the shape of a moose.  Just call me Bullwinkle.

My hope is that you would laugh.  Or at LEAST crack a smile.

What I've found about being bald, is that as much as I have to get used to it, so does EVERYONE ELSE that sees me on a daily basis.  In particular, my coworkers. 

Thus far, my coworkers have been amazing about the whole cancer thing.  They've all been crazy supportive and awesome and I've gotten more offers than I can count for lawn mowing or snow blowing or frozen pre-made meals.  And let me tell you I am SO taking advantage of it.  I'm wondering if I can convince anyone to come scoop dog poop in a few months when the snow is gone ;)

When I went bald, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Would they say anything?  Should I wear a wig?  A scarf?  Could I somehow break the ice and help everyone realize this is NOT the end of the world for me?

So I bought the moose hat.  And a bear hat (for the days when I'm in a bad mood... I'm a bear!  Hehehehe.)

And it helped.  I got some great laughs out of people and the awkwardness is gone.

But ONE person totally surprised me.  He walked into my office and sat down and didn't even bat an eye.  He just started up a conversation about whatever it was he had a question on and acted like I didn't have a MOOSE ON MY HEAD!

I wanted to see how far he'd take it, so I just acted like I didn't look ridiculous.

And after we were done discussing our business, he said thanks and walked out.  No joke.  No smile.  Nuthin!

I wanted to stop him and say "seriously?!?!  I HAVE A MOOSE ON MY HEAD!!!!!!!"

I'm sure he was just trying to be nice.  Or maybe he just doesn't know how to react.  At first I thought, "maybe I should tell him he's allowed to laugh and it won't offend me."  I mean, he is one of the nicest guys in my office who always has a smile for everyone...

But instead, I've decided this is a challenge.  By not laughing, it totally turned this into a contest.  How completely ridiculous can I look and have him not laugh? 

So here is my plea, help me find the most ridiculous hat/headcovering!  Put a link/picture in the comments section and we'll figure out what the best option is and I'll wear it to a meeting with him :)

I can't go bald and not find some way to have fun with it :)  I MUST PREVAIL!
 
What everyone knows about cancer is that people usually lose their hair during chemo.

What I never knew before I got cancer, was that lots of people do this in stages :)

By that I mean many women go from their "normal" haircut to a shorter "pre-chemo/surgery" cut and then finally go bald.  It's not really a gradual process, but alot of women seem to prepare themselves for baldness by at least going shorter with their cut than they're normally used to. 

I totally did this. 

So, on Valentine's Day, I thought I would post a little photo journal of my hair.  What it was like when Caleb was born... and then when I decided to go for the "mommy cut" and then after I was diagnosed...

Happy Valentine's Day!
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Look at all that hair! Well past my shoulders.
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The Mommy cut. I love this hairstyle...
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The pre-chemo cut. Thank goodness this 'works' for me!
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The big reveal... no hair!
 
So I know lots of you have been wondering, "How does Cynthia look bald?  Is her head pointy?"

Answer is: I don't know yet.  That is because I still have all my hair.

Well... all the hair on my head that is.

On a related but seemingly random side note, I read a blog about a cancer patient that had shaved her arm pits sometime near a chemo treatment and ended up with this awful infection from some small, invisible cut she got.  Her immune system wasn't strong enough and she ended up in the hospital.  She survived it and all, but it TOTALLY freaked me out.  

Thus, the last time I did any "feminine grooming" was about 2.5 weeks ago.  

MAN am I hairy.

Seriously.  It's gross.  Thank goodness my husband isn't here b/c this might scar him for life.  I mean that, it might've given him nightmares.  I feel like a distant cousin of Sasquatch.

Moral of the story is that I've been a little on the fence about the hair loss thing.  It'll suck to have to worry about a head covering if I lose all my head hair.  But I'm not really diggin' the whole "european" look and I'm paranoid that if I shave anything, I'll end up with this awful infection and then I'll have THAT to deal with on top of everything else. 

What's a girl to wish for?  Hairiness or Hairlessness?

And then on Tuesday, the body hair started to go.

And I secretly cheered inside that I wouldn't be some freak of nature that lost all the hair on her head but had massively hairy legs and pits (yes, a very weird fear... but with my luck recently I wasn't dismissing it).

Now I'm secretly hoping I'll be a different type of freak of nature.  One that loses all the unwanted body hair but keeps the hair on her head :)

Yes, I know that's unrealistic, but a girl can dream right?

Anywho, my expectation is that after this weekend, I will probably be totally bald.  But please don't mourn my hair.  What did my mother say when I got a bad hair cut?  It's just hair!  It'll grow back!  Sure, keeping my hair would make life easier, but I'm not so emotionally tied to it that I'm dreading the loss.  Actually I'm freakishly interested to see what being bald is like.  This way when the Hubby goes bald, I can relate ;)

So sometime soon, the question will be answered.  Do I have a good head shape?  Stay tuned to find out (and yes there will be pictures)!