Olivia Rose Smith

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

My hair so far

One of the most common associations with cancer and chemo-therapy is hair loss. I think thats why I was so scared to loose mine - the thought of becoming so easily associated with the illness, and to become the face of cancer to so many people around me was definitely frightening to say the least.

My hair started falling out when I was admitted to hospital at the beginning of March, after just one chemo. It never came out in clumps but always separate strands from all over my head, which probably made it much easier to cope because it meant I didn't have any completely bald patches on my head. 

So many people said to me that I would find it distressing to have my hair falling out, but I have to admit its been more irritating to be covered in strands of hair all the time than a distress. People are constantly picking hair off of my clothes - it literally gets everywhere!!!

At first it was falling out thick and fast, but now it seems to have completely slowed down. I maybe even say my hair isn't falling out at all right now! So what if it doesn't fall out anymore than this? Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones and hold onto what I've got for the duration of my chemo?

Although my hair is very very thin and I would say that over 50% of it has fallen out, what I'm left with is still acting as a cancer disguise for those who don’t already know I’ve got it…  Something I cant seem to let go of. 

However that doesn't mean I haven't found it difficult to cope with how different it does look. I hate my hair now, its not me. Probably as a result of this I feel like I have no connection with it, and right now I wouldn't be afraid to shave it off if the time comes. What I've got left doesn't look like my hair anymore and so maybe I would be happier without it? A constant battle in my mind. I am sure I will look back at the end of this and laugh about how I thought it was my hair that defined me and my identity. 

But for now I want to talk tips and tricks, what I’ve learnt about disguising my hair so far. Hopefully this will make the process easier for somebody else… Oh how I would have loved to read this blog post 2 months ago. 

Firstly, if you have got long hair, cut it short. There is no point in having long strands of hair all over your clothes when you could have short strands of hair all over your clothes?! Short hair also looks thicker than long. 

My hair is very thin around the front, and that was the first thing I noticed, so I got a fringe cut, which means I can pull hair from further back to cover the nasty thin part at the front… genius!! 

A fringe has also come in handy when wearing hats and turbans/ head scarfs. I went out once wearing a turban with none of my hair showing. It was daunting - I felt cancer-ish. So from then on I wore my fringe coming out of the turbans and hats (looks like a completely normal head of hair because you can't see my scalp). I will attach photos in the blog post of all of the different things I have tried out so far.

I do also have a gorgeous wig - which I have only had the balls to wear once!! I felt that people were looking at me and trying to work out if it was a wig or my own hair - it is probably a good sign that they had to look for so long to work it out, but even so, I did feel self conscious. The other thing to say is that it is uncomfortable, they're itchy and hot. I wore it to the shops and I was absolutely boiling, its a nightmare to try clothes on with too. 

I got my wig from the little princess trust, I had so many different options, real hair or acrylic, 100's of styles and colours. I chose to get a wig the same colour as my natural hair, but in the style of the bouncy blow dry I always longed for. I chose to get an acrylic wig because I felt that the real hair ones were so heavy and thick and looked so wiggish on my head. The acrylic one has far less hair and looked more like real hair than the real hair wig did? The wig also doesn't need styling, it will stay in the style it came in forever even when you wash it. I decided to get two wigs which were exactly the same because I was able to have more than one but I didnt like how any of the others looked on my head. I plan to get one of the wigs cut shorter, into a less glamorous style for a more every day look. I was warned that the wig will become tatty with lots of wear (because I chose acrylic), but as soon as this happens to just let the charity know and they will give me a new one straight away. 

I understand for some people that the only option is to wig it or wear a turban/ hat with no hair showing (because you have no hair) but I guess what I am trying to say is that I am glad that I held onto my hair for as long as possible. At first I vowed that as soon as it started falling out I would shave it off because I’d find the process too distressing, but I am so glad I didn't follow through with that because the longer I look normal (ish) the better!

My hair before any treatment

After hair cut off for The Little Princess Trust

Thinning hair at the front

 Fringe to disguise the thinning - slight bald patch at the top of my head

 My wig

Zara scarf

Hat from French Connection

 Search 'glitter turban' on ebay to find this and loads of other colours



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