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Sunday, February 10, 2008

But You Still Have Hair!

The following post is inspired by TK's response to Looks Can be Deceiving.

"But you still have hair!" they notice right away, eyes immediately scanning the wisps of hair, visible despite my hair covering. (I cover my hair for religious, not cancer-related, reasons)

It’s almost as if they are challenging me: “how can you have hair if you are on chemo?”

NEWS FLASH: not all chemo makes your hair fall out.

Hair loss is the most visible side affect of chemotherapy. Chemo can make ALL the hair, ALL over the body, fall out. The loss of eyelashes, and eyebrows, makes the faces of many chemo patients look strange and sickly.

So, when people know I'm on chemo, they have certain expectations. They have an image of what a person on chemo looks like.

When we actually meet in person, there is a severe dichotomy between the image and the reality.

“You have hair.”
“You have hair?”
“Why do you have hair?”

Cancer patients can have their body blasted by chemotherapy and still have a full head of hair.

To make things more confusing: the same chemo can affect people differently, so that some lose their hair altogether, some lost a bit of hair and some don’t lose any hair.

I was told that I might not experience any hair loss from the "vanilla bean" (Navalbine).

At first, when I didn't lose any hair, I was so relieved and grateful! I thought that meant I was one of the lucky ones, and wouldn’t lose my hair at all.

Then, my hair started to fall out, very slowly, a bit at a time.

Then, there was that one traumatic evening, when every time I ran the comb through my hair, more and more hair kept coming out.

By now, my hair has thinned so much that I want to cry. I can still make a braid (about the thickness of my finger, but a braid nonetheless). Though I am avoiding getting a much needed trim, because who knows if my hair will ever grow back....

Apparently, as long as I receive the “vanilla bean”, the hair that is gone, is gone. I might lose more hair. I might not. No one knows.

Still, I have hair, on my head, on my eyebrows, eyelashes, etc.

So, I look “normal.”

But I’m not.

I have cancer.

My life revolves around chemotherapy.

That is definitely not normal, even with hair.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

1 comment:

Batya said...

My neighbor lost his mustache from radiation and looks Amish.
Refuah Shleimah to all who need it, including those who don't know.