If you ask just about any woman undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer what the worse thing is or could be, the majority of them will say it is to lose their hair. I’ve known some women refuse treatment because of that fact alone. There is something about losing our hair which makes the cancer visible. It is difficult to hide the fact, although wigs are so much better than they used to be, even a few years ago. If we’ve had surgery, we can hide under our clothes; if we aren’t feeling 100%, we can hide behind make up, but it is so much harder to hide hair loss; on our heads and our facial hair.
As I indicated in my last blog, I experienced major hair loss shortly after my last treatment and after a week of umming and aahing about what to do and feeling very self-conscious, I decided I would stop the torture that is the cold cap treatment and let the chemo treatment take its course, which will, in all likelihood, mean losing all the hair on my head. My lovely friend and hairdresser Gemma (currently on maternity leave), very kindly agreed to cut my hair short which was a major deal – I’ve not had short hair since I was about 14 years old – but she’s done a fantastic job and thank you to all you wonderful people who’ve given me such fantastic comments about my new “do”. (And I didn’t cry – a major achievement!) I’ve also now picked out a wig, so I’m all set for when I do lose my tresses.
I’ve had a third treatment since my last blog too, so I’m now halfway through (YES!) and still feeling relatively okay. I tend to feel very tired and rather fuzzy-headed, particularly during the first week after treatment, and of course I’m still experiencing the numb tongue (which is getting right on my wick now)! Treatment wasn’t quite so long this time round as I ditched the cold cap. If you have the cold cap treatment you need to put it on half an hour before the chemo, keep it on throughout the chemo (in my case, an hour) and then have it on for a further 45 minutes after. The entire time your head feels like you have the worse brain freeze EVER and it can (and did) make you feel very nauseous. So now you know why that didn’t seem a very appealing prospect to continue. Hats off (very carefully of course, so as not to lose any hair), to all those ladies who choose to continue with the cold cap. I salute you; you are the epitome of bravery in my eyes!
A word about bravery… I’ve had some really lovely comments about my blog and many describe me as “brave”. I don’t feel brave at all. Bravery to me is when you have a choice and you decide to go through with something. I don’t have a choice! I believe that my oncologist has my very best interest at heart and therefore when she suggests a particular treatment that is the one that will benefit me the most. It is not through choice that I (and so many others) are going through the rigours of cancer. So please, don’t call me brave – I am many things… stubborn, determined, bloody-minded, pig-headed (I’ve just realised where my youngest is getting it all from!), but definitely not brave!
As a way of combating the visible effects of cancer, today I had a lovely treat; albeit at the hospital… A charity organisation called Look Good, Feel Better run beauty workshops for women undergoing cancer treatment all over the country. Ten gorgeous ladies were brought together and given a hands-on beauty therapy session with a staggering amount of products for each of us donated by the cosmetics industry, alongside beauty therapists who generously give their time for free. All in an effort to boost our confidence and feel empowered. We went through a whole routine, from cleansing and toning to applying full make up, and I for one left walking that little bit taller with more belief and self-assurance. Perhaps if you get a chance, you could look up their website, www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk and find out what it’s all about. None of us want to be seen as a victim, and make up can really act as a great coat of armour in our battle for normality.
“May you find the strength to face tomorrow
in the love that surrounds you today”
Take care all! xx