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!
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.