Shaving Your Head
The nurses told me most, if not all, of my hair would fall out during chemo. I could try using a cold cap which is basically freezing ice that runs through tubes placed inside a helmut and put on your head, I decided I would give it a go to see if my hair lasted a little longer. I had long hair nearly down to my waist so I thought I would cut it short first so I would at least get used to it before I shaved the whole lot off. A few years earlier me and my friend Lindsay had vowed never to have short hair again and be old granny long haired hippies how things change.
I had always wanted to see what it looked like with a shaved head so finally at 35 here was my chance. I was going to embrace it. I went back to my parents to have my hair cut by Lesley who had been coming to my Mum’s house since I was 12. It was a lot more relaxing for someone you know to do it. Lindsay and Emma who I have known since I was eleven also came round to support which was so sweet. Chop chop off it came. Not to bad but it did feel short. That was only stage one in my hair adventure.
During my first chemo I had had the cold cap on for so long that all of a sudden I could feel shakes coming up inside me. Less than 15 mins later I was shaking so much it was uncontrolable. The nurses came rushing and put something straight into my veins to try and help with the symptoms. I had bascially got so cold I was going into shock! That was the first and last time I wore the cold cap. A week later I was sat at work brushing my hair with my fingers and it was covering my keyboard. The time had come to go to the next step……
I was nervous as I didn’t want to look like a boy! Kevin brought his US style shavers and after putting it off for hours finally at 10.30pm the time had come. It felt strange but there was no going back. It was actually quite liberating. I was seeing my true head shape for the first time in my life.
There was no way I was going to wear a wig. I was going to embrace the baldness like a proper warrior. Wigs to me are for fancy dress parties. I would have thought I looked like an idiot prancing around with something so false on my head. I also think when people offer you a wig because you have cancer is a little insulting. I had cancer yes. With cancer you can lose your hair. Why do I want a wig to hide that fact, to make me somehow feel that cancer was not an approachable subject? I know I often thought people can’t see the real me when I had no hair, they only see a ‘cancer girl’. New people I met had no idea what I ‘really looked like’ But I also new that it didn’t matter. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me but I didn’t want to hide behind a horrible hot and sweaty wig.
I did go and get my ‘free’ NHS wig though. I thought it would be a fun experience trying on all the different colours and seeing what I would look like as a red head. The wig lady was quite serious and didn’t seem up for my positive attitude. I didn’t want to say how fake all the wigs looked as she seemed very proud of their service. I did choose a wig a blonde long one not too dissimilar to my own hair but it looked like a wig! I remember going bright red as I was trying them on – to me hiding behind something so false was embarrassing. As I left the lady asked would you like to wear it now? I said no it’s ok thanks and she put it in a plastic Sainsbury’s bag. I preferred to rock the realness.
I noticed time after time was how old fashioned the whole NHS system is. I hope one day most cancer patients get away from using wigs and those terrible headscarfs that say cancer! And embrace their baldness with pride. Of course on those cold winter days I had a growing collection of beenies which I even slept in to keep my head warm.