Thinking a ‘head’

OK, so I try not to think too far ahead and worry about things until I really have to worry about them, but with this cancer planning is sometimes essential.

The Myeloma UK magazine Myeloma Matters was out this week and there was an article in it about Body Image and Myeloma. I don’t think I had really thought about how the treatments and drugs for Myeloma can affect your appearance and obviously this can influence how you feel about yourself. I am lucky that I haven’t put on loads of weight as I know how that would have depressed me; I have always been thin so hopefully all I will have to consider is the lack of hair issue!

So today I am thinking ahead about being bald! My stem cell transplant will probably be around January so I am thinking it’ll be cold so could I cope with a bald head or will I have to wear something?

I guess this is an area that men don’t have to worry about so much. Having no hair is just not an issue for them any more; gone, in the main, are the ‘comb-overs’ of the seventies and eighties! There is however one exception that comes to mind!

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My own husband has little hair and shaves his head, my poor son who is approaching 25 will be going the same way in the not too distant future, but he’s not too worried, its trendy. However for ladies its not quite so easy. It looks great if you are young, have striking features and a nice shaped head. A Google search produces some pictures of beautiful ladies who really ‘rock the look’. I  nearly got there once before. I was 19 I think and had had a couple of haircuts in the ’80s’ with shaved panels and undercuts so eventually it all had to come off to start again. I had it cropped really short, about a centimetre long I guess and I did toy with going completely bald, mainly because I wanted to see what it looked like and I liked being different.

What stopped me you may ask? Unfortunately I was to be a bridesmaid for my godmother’s daughter and she had chosen a Laura Ashley type pale blue dress in a small white flower print with long puffed sleeves and pin tucks to the bodice!  Not flattering at the best of times, even worse with a bald head! She also wanted me to wear a white floppy hat which looked pretty ridiculous plonked on very little hair but would have been even worse without any at all! My mother and I had a good laugh about it and she refused to buy or take any photos as she said she didn’t want them adorning her mantle-piece so unfortunately I can’t share them with you.

So let’s look at the Pros and Cons of rocking the bald look or wearing a wig or hats:

Advantages

  • I’m going to be bald anyway so why not embrace it
  • its a talking point, but will I get fed up with people asking me if I have cancer or did I just want to be bald
  • I won’t have to fiddle with a wig  so I’ll have more time to do my make up
  • the best of both worlds; I can go bald but also experimenting with wigs is easier as I won’t have any hair of my own
  • no headache as wigs might give me one
  • I’ve always had it short so this is only one step further and I’ve already taken it shorter than normal in preparation
  • liberating
  • won’t have to worry about a wig looking ‘false’ or coming off
  • I won’t be buying hair products so I can spend more on make up!
  • I’m not working so I won’t have to deal with colleagues and students
  • It might make me look younger (probably not!)
  • my husband and I will ‘match’
  • scarves just don’t suit me, but hats do and I can still wear these when its cold

Disadvantages

  • it’ll be cold, especially as it will be winter (stem cell transplant will likely be January)
  • will people find it intimidating or be afraid to ask about it? Will they assume I have cancer or think I’m making a fashion statement about older women or stereotype me as a feminist!
  • I’ve always been a feminist so may people think I’m making a statement
  • I will have to look after my scalp well as it will be on show
  • my head might be a funny shape and I won’t like it
  • no hair to hide behind, but then I have always had it short
  • people will stare
  • time; lots of time needed to make sure my make up is perfect when I go out and I have my false eye lashes on
  • will I look and feel less feminine?
  • it might make me look older
  • will I hate looking in the mirror?
  • will people question my sexuality? – does it matter if they do? No

I have surprised myself in coming up with a pretty equal list of advantages and disadvantages so we’ll see. I think I will just go with it and wear hats when I am outside as it’ll be too cold. I might just get one wig for a laugh, just to experiment with a different look.

I saw in the Myeloma magazine’s article on body image that the Look Good Feel Better charity run free makeup workshops for cancer patients and apparently they come to my area monthly so I’ll definitely be booking on one of those later in the year. I also ordered their confidence kit, after all, every little helps.

There are loads of different hats around but personally I like the Bamboo ones on the Live Better With Cancer site so I’ll be putting them on my birthday and Christmas list.

Once it actually comes to the crunch then I’ll post an update on how I feel post hair loss!

I’d really welcome other people’s views and experiences, so feel free to comment.

 

25 thoughts on “Thinking a ‘head’

  1. I spent nearly 3 years without hair, it didn’t really bother me as I didn’t fancy the alternative if I didn’t have any treatment. I opted to wear wigs (had 3), when I was out, or if it was too cold wore hats. At home and with family I opted for the bald look. As my hair started to grow I didn’t bother with wigs or hats, yeah had a few funny looks and comments but I just ignored them, I was comfortable with my appearance, and if they had a problem it was their problem. I hope all goes well for you and wish you all the best.

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    1. Thanks Valerie. I think I will stick it out but might try a different look with a wig just for fun. I think I can put up with the comments and all experiences are valuable I feel. Thanks for sharing with me.

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    2. Thanks Val. I might get one wig so I know its there if I need it. It will be winter so I will definitely need hats. A friend who has also been through the experience said she needed one to sleep in too in the winter. You’re right, if anyone takes issue with me being bald then it’s their issue not mine. xx

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  2. Maybe the important thing to remember is that however you look you are still you! Go with what makes you feel good and try not to think too much about other people’s reactions, that’s really their problem to deal with.
    I’d say from how you wear your hair now you have a great shaped head that will look beautiful bald. Being bald might also feel amazing, bet an Indian Head massage would be extra special without hair! But you’ve also got the opportunity to have some fun and experiment with different hair styles with wigs. Another friend in the same situation enjoyed rainbow hair, being blonde or pink, something she wouldn’t have risked with her own hair. I think you’ll know what to do when you have to deal with it and I’m sure you’ll continue to do it with grace and style and the courage you’ve shown so far. Now what about hubbie joining you in a wig so you match?

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    1. Don’t think he’d go with wearing a wig somehow but we will match when I’m bald! I am hoping my head shape will look Ok and I like the idea of a Indian head massage; it always puts me off otherwise as it makes a mess of your hair so that’s definitely a treat I can seek out later on. I’m hoping that when my hair grows back it will be white (a lot of it is already according to my son) so if it does then I will dye it lots of pastel shades for some fun. I have had loads of extreme colours and hairstyles over the years, especially when I was young and modeled for one of Vidal Sassoon’s top stylists so it would be fun to go back to that for a while.xx

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  3. Like Valerie, I had a wig in the beginning. I also had a great, cosy hat which I wore. Now my hair is about 2cm long – a bit like a skin heads style so I don’t use anything, just embracing the freedom 🙂

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    1. That word freedom keeps coming up and I think its how I feel too. I’m going to enjoy the freedom while it lasts; no expensive hair products, less time to get ready and less hassle when you feel rough anyway. xx

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  4. Just a general comment to commend you on the whole tone of the piece. You seem to have the balance about right. It’s fairly upbeat and positive and yet does not make light of the condition. Well done, you!

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    1. Thank you Derrick I really appreciate you took the time to tell me this. I’ve tried to keep it fairly light; I’m not one to dwell on the bad things in life, we have to just get on and deal with what life throws at us and keep the positivity up. “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow”. No idea who said that but it rings true to me.

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  5. I went with the bald head, I felt a strange kind of freedom, it was odd looking in the mirror but hey it was me. The worst was worrying about not having eyebrows BUT strangely enough they only thinned and looked good. As to the wig, it just didn’t feel right, it was itchy and I felt everyone was looking at me, and the bald look did not attract too much attention at all. Go with the bald and bold, wooly hats will keep you warm and cosy.

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    1. Thanks Dorothy. Lots of people have said the same to me about bald feeling right and wigs just feeling false, hot and itchy! I’m going to go with the bald look. Eye brows shouldn’t be too much of a problem as I had mine microbladed before I had radiotherapy for the Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma as it was behind my right eye. They told me that I would lose the eye brow and lashes to that eye and they may never grow back! Being lopsided didn’t appeal to me so I had them done. I did lose half the eye brow and my top lashes have disappeared but I still have the bottom ones so when I go out in the evening I wear false eye lashes but otherwise I don’t bother and to be honest I don’t think people notice. xx

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  6. Thanks. What a great attitude. Starting the same journey as you soon, will probably have a hat and wig to go out and not bother in the house, both my husband and son are bald as well! We are all in it together , and we will get through it together. xx Joy

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    1. Let me know how you get on. I’ll send you pictures of mine when my son has shaved it all off at the end of the year. My friend Pat suggested face paining something on the side of my head and I really like that idea too for parties/going out; you know like they do for music festivals on their faces.I’m going to experiment with that one definitely. xx

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  7. Maybe it’s a silly idea as I have no experience but I know that you have creative ideas.
    What about painting on your head?
    Whatever you do it will be with style and courage.

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    1. I know some people have tattooed their head, and that does interest me but I don’t think they would allow me to do it as I have blood caner and this would be an infection risk I probably couldn’t take, however I do like the idea. A tattoo on the side would look nice. Mind you on your head is probably painful! My daughter is good at art and I usde to love face painting the kids when they were younger. If I got some face paints my daughter might do it for me and I do like the idea for a party or when I’m out dancing. People do it on their face for festivals so why not on the side of my head? I’m liking that idea the more I think about it Pat, good one. I did a quick Google and found these:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4464882/Cara-Delevingne-PAINTS-newly-shaved-head-silver.html
      http://www.mulherbeleza.com.br/tatoo/tatuagem-na-cabeca/

      You’ve really got me thinking now. xx

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  8. You will look beautiful with or without hats and wigs! You’re a very stylish person and will find something that suits that makes you happy, and there’s my point right there, do what makes you happy! It doesn’t matter about what people think it’s about how you feel! My friend had really thick course hair and her first lit of treatment just thinned it out however her second lot of treatment took all of her hair and at first she was devastated and didn’t want to face anyone! She experimented with head scarves and wigs etc and actually found that she preferred herself to be au naturel lol! She embraced her baldness and held her head up high! So experiment, have fun, try everything out then you will know what you prefer, but I can tell you that you will look beautiful whatever you decide on!

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    1. Thank you Jenny! I think your friend’s experiences are similar to many others with cancer that have contacted me. One lady said that she only felt herself when she was bald and that a wig made her look like someone else, which felt totally alien! It will be winter though when it happens so I will need something to keep my head warm so I probably won’t be able to walk about outside without a hat! I know how often my husband puts one on in the winter! xx

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  9. Hey Paula! Lots of good points in both your advantages and disadvantages lists, but one thing stood out for me… your advantages list seems to be about how YOU feel, whereas your disadvantages list is more about how OTHER PEOPLE feel. You seem to be a down to earth lady – maybe go with keeping it real and rocking the bald look? I’m guessing you would have some fun playing around with wigs and hats for different looks from time to time too 😉 xx

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    1. Interesting comment Kerry. I guess you are right, the disadvantages are about how other people feel. I suppose I was considering how other people may react. I am reasonably tough so I don’t think other people’s reactions would really bother me, unless I had a particularly low day. I probably will have a go at the bald look although it’s going to be winter when it happens so I’ll need something to keep my head warm. I know how often Rhett puts a hat on because he’s head is cold. A friend who has had cancer told me I’ll need a night one too; I’d not considered that I might need one to keep my head warm at night.

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  10. I think you will know what you prefer to do when the time comes. It all depends on how you’re feeling then. Hats are very fashionable and there are some lovely ones out there, so you’ll have no problem finding something to suit you. If it was me I would probably do a bit of every option, depending on how I feel on the day. You can have a special Kiz one for Mondays etc. Whatever you decide to do, we’ll all be behind you x

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    1. A special Kizomba hat sounds a good one Olive! Perhaps I should have one made! I’m not so keen on scarves myself but I might try a turban type thing; it would go with African! I’ll probably get one wig but a lot of ladies that have also had cancer have commented that they bought one but hardly wore it, so I think that may well be me too. I know you will all be supportive and for that I am truly grateful. xx

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  11. I didn’t lose my hair during treatment but when it was time for the SCT, and the chemo that goes with that, my hair started to fall out within days. You can feel your head getting ‘tingly’, kind of like when you have a pony tail for too long. You can’t stop it, so I had my husband take the hair clippers and cut it all off. I think losing my hair was very traumatic for me. Everyone tells you ‘not a big deal it will grow back’ but it was a big deal. My SCT was in January so I wore a lot of hats, even a nice, soft sleeping cap. Your head can get very cold at night! I did get a wig that I wore for a little while when I first went back to work. Every day I couldn’t wait to go home and take it off! It itched and was so hot, felt like a little animal on my head! I didn’t wear it for long, but I liked that I had it just in case.

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    1. Thanks Barbara for sharing this with me. I will definitely look out for the tingling feeling. I think I will get my son to shave it off (he’s a barber) before I go in for the chemo prior to SCT as the thought of it coming out in handfuls will just be too depressing. My son has already cut it shorter than normal (I have short hair anyway) so it won’t be such a dramatic shock. Like you I think my stem cell transplant will be in January so it will be cold so hats will be a necessity. I know how much my husband moans when its cold as he’s bald! I have taken voluntary redundancy from work so I won’t have to worry about colleagues and students, however I will have to look for another job in about a years time so I guess it would be sensible to get one wig ; it would also be there if I had a wobble one day and needed to ‘cover up’. Like you though I think I would be desperate to get the thing off my head! Can I ask you what happened when it started to grow back? Did the wig still fit? I was just thinking that if your hair is about a centimetre long would the wig still fit or just sit on top of the hair! Did your hair grow back the same? A lot of mine is white anyway according to my son! Usually he dies it but I am hoping it might all grow back white and then I can go funky colours! x

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  12. Embrace it.
    If a wig is even an option, go out with a good friend, have a laugh with him or her and try all the wigs in the shop on before it is a necessity.
    Not everyone loses their hair, you have the advantage that your hair is short, and we all know how striking your appearance is with short hair, you would totally rock bald. No lumpy bumpy head under there (ok we all have some lumpy bumps, but you know what I mean).
    When your hair grows back, the best thing is to keep it very short whilst it thickens, unless you want to go got the Golem look. The first bit that grows back will be quite downy, so it will need a little time. It looks its best with regular trims.
    I love the idea of the African kizomba hat.
    One of the interesting things is sometimes the hair grows back a different colour so you might be in for a very cool surprise.
    Just run with what you feel on the day. it will be chilly in the winter, but you could try a hat / scarf / something wild to keep your head warm.
    In my experience the ones who bite the bullet, shave it all off / go on wild shopping wig trips / treat themselves to scarves and generally make it an opportunity to nurture yourself are the ones who look the most fantastic.
    Just be yourself and be as brilliant as you always are.

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    1. Thank you Justine. Josh (my son, who is a hairdresser and barber) will shave it all off before it happens; I don’t think the falling out in clumps thing is a good look! I may get one wig for a laugh, perhaps a style I could never have normally. Josh will keep it trimmed as it grows back and I’m hoping it will grow back white. Josh tells me its about 60% white already (ssh, don’t tell anyone), so I am hoping I’ll get a whole new look! Any way the stem cell transplant will take it out of me in every way so initially having no hair will be a blessing as it’s one less thing to worry about!

      xx

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