At the beginning of chemotherapy, at the end of February 2009, I set out to photographically document what I expected to be complete hair loss. On top of everything that had happened, this was what I feared most. Losing my natural blonde. Before treatment started I tried on wigs, bought a hat and practised wrapping scarves. None were me. I would lose my identity and gain a completely different one. There'd be no way round not looking like a cancer patient.
My plan was to take some control. I had it cut short so that the fall out would hopefully have less impact... I think it was a good theory. But I'm incredibly lucky in that I didn't have to go through with any of the various head coverings. I kept my hair. This was due to wearing a "scalp cooling" device during the drug injections. The idea is to cut off the blood supply to the hair follicles meaning that the drugs don't reach. Cooling is not the right word though; it was fucking freezing. Sat for 3 hours with a gel filled hat frozen to minus 6 degrees wasn't much fun and most people who try it abandon it after 20 minutes. But I was determined to save my hair if I could. I'm glad I coped with the suffering. Throughout all this shit year I sometimes haven't been able to work out where my resolve and a mainly positive attitude has come from. But I know a major factor is down to keeping my hair.
So my hair didn't fall out, but it grew weaker in the 3 weekly stages between each cycle of chemo. Like the eyelashes, it wasn't majorly apparent, but in the few strands that did come out, it looked like a badger had been moulting. The hair at the root end was stripey. It seemed that it was blonde and dark stripes but in reality the lighter stripes were thinner, and if I pulled it, the strand would break at those points. So it seems like I held on to my hair by a thread.
I'm going to look after my eyelashes and enjoy them. I'm also going to keep my hair short. I think.