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Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Head is Tingling

The first time my head started tingling I thought my kids brought me a gift from school, if you know what I mean....

How unfair to have cancer *and* creepy crawlies! I mean, come on!

But when I combed my hair, I did not find any unpleasant surprises (thank God!)

A few days later, I had a different, but no less unpleasant, surprise. My hair started falling out.

So far, I have never lost all of my hair. Over time, especially this year, my hair has thinned dramatically. However, I still have enough hair sticking out of my headscarves (which I wear for religious reasons, having nothing to do with cancer) to give the illusion that I have not lost my hair.

Also, because I am fair skinned, and fair haired, even when I lost most of the hairs on my eyebrows, there were some people who did not notice, though most did (I think).

Recently, I noticed that my hair was growing back. It made me feel good.

Then, about a week and a half into radiation, my head started tingling again. The doctors and the nurses warned me that the radiation could make my hair fall out. They also told me that for some people, the hair loss is permanent. I, of course, did not really believe that my hair would fall out... until I felt the tingling.

During the past few days, the tingling became more intense and more frequent. I knew what was coming.

I first noticed the hair coming out on Friday. By Shabbat, the loss accelerated.

I feel like a puppy. I am shedding.

I am not freaking out, but it does make me sad.

I am wondering if I should just shave it all off, to save the mess.

I wonder if that would be allowed during the three weeks (from the 17th of Tamuz through the 9th of Av, when Jews traditionally refrain from cutting their hair as a sign of mourning the destruction of the Temple).

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

With love and optimism,


rickismom said...

I would suspect that it uis allowed, but of course you have to check with a rav....

Mottel said...

Stay strong!

arnie draiman said...

more exceptions and leniencies than you can imagine (all kosher!)




and many many more....do it now before rosh hodesh.

Batya said...

Better health than hair, and as arnie recommended, halachot are easier in Tammuz.

refuah shleimah!

Karen said...

Of course you're upset, I'm not trying to minimize that. But look on the bright side -- since you cover it anyway, people WON'T notice. And it sounds like a good excuse to go out and buy some new scarves.

Sarah said...

Sounds to me like shaving the rest off is absolutely in the spirit of mourning. It is not for yoffi, clearly. i am not a posek, but I feel in my gut that it is perfect for you to do during the three weeks.

I love you.

Anonymous said...

I am with Sarah on this one but then if you feel bad about it I am sure you can find a rav that will tell you what to do.

Anonymous said...


I can sympathize with how hard this must be for you. In your description of yourself on your blog you start with "I'm a Red-Head". You will always be a red-head to me, hair or no hair. It really is a great part of your identity. I'm sure your hair will grow back. It must! And it will be even more healthy and beautiful. In the meantime you'll have to be creative with those head scarves.


Melissa said...

A Rabbi for certain could tell you.

I know that you will be beautiful with hair or no hair. I know your spirit, and it is a beauty through and through.

May your life be filled with many blessings.

P.S. I bought store bought whole fruit lime popsicles. Yeah! They are kosher.

Love Melissa

Baila said...

I remember the tingling, and I remember the feeling of pulling my hair out, without any pain whatsoever. I didn't bother shaving my head, I just pulled until my head was as smooth as a bowling ball. I think that for many women, the complete hair loss is one of the most difficult things of the illness.

As some of the other commenters noted, shaving your head would clearly not be about beautifying yourself, but really a form of mourning. Personally, I believe what your doing is totally appropriate to these sad days.

As always, thinking of you.

adena said...

I'm sorry that the radiation is making you lose your hair...one more thing! I'm hoping that this is the only side effect (other than the fatigue) that you have from the radiation, and that it WORKS!

Val said...

Shave the head... be bold! It's you, from all that I've read about you! :)
Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Ilana said...

I never noticed you didn't have eyebrows.

Henya said...

I lost a most of my hair after Chernobyl, I was 16, and I obsessed for years about it, as it was my "good feature". I refused to cut what was left for many years, and later after I cut it I was very particular about how it looked. When I got married I made it a condition that I will maintain a nice haircut under my shaitel. We got married a few days before Rosh Hashana, on Yom Tov I sat in shull behind someone, who had very little hair and she had a perm! It looked so funny... After Yom Tov I gave myself a buzz. Never looked back. Love it. Listen is there are performers who go and do they're thing with a buzz I can have one under my tichel. By the way, you might discover that you have a beautiful head shape.
I know it is not just hair, it is how you see yourself, but I wanted to tell you that beauty is adjustable. And you are the one adjusting it.

Cheryl Pitt said...

I'm sorry. I would imagine that to be a bit difficult, especially being a stunning red head :)

I'm continuing to send prayers and strength across the ocean!

I think of you daily.


RivkA with a capital A said...

Ricki's mom, Muse, Sarah, Ilana Davita, & Melissa -- checked with my Rav; it's totally allowed. (and already done [today -- Wed, July 23] -- though I haven't posted about it yet)

Mottel, Adena & Cheryl -- thanks!!

Arnie -- thanks for the links!! (same comment as above)

Karen -- when ALL the hair goes (or enough that there are bald spots instead of sideburns) -- people notice. Well, some do; some are just oblivious.... ;-)

SS -- I really do hope it will grow back. It usually does (though no guarantees about how the "new" hair will come in). Unfortunately, on some/rare occasions the hair loss is permanent.

Baila -- I never had a treatment that made all my hair fall out at once. This is the closest I came to that experience and it still took several days. Today, when I shaved it, there was so little left that even I realized there was no point in leaving what was there.

Now I have this buzz cut and I keep running my hands over my head. I encouraged my daughter (eldest) touch it to see how cool it felt (and, hopefully, to help her stop being wierded out by it)

Hey Val -- I totally want to be one of those bold women. I can be, at home. But I am not sure that I can be that bold, all the time, in the outside world. We'll see....

Square Peg -- OK, if *you* did not notice, then there are certainly others who did not. I was wondering if people just were not saying something.... I think I was really blessed by being so fair haired.

Henya -- thank you so much for sharing!! And for your words of encouragement and suppot!! It certainly is funny how these things work out.

My mom lost much of her hair (apparently from hereditary thinning) and I always worried about it. A few years ago, I noticed that my hair was starting to thin out (this was way before I ever had cancer).

I though of getting a buzz cut several times, as an attempt to give my hair a rest and let it grow back (hopefully thicker and healthier). I never got up the nerve.

Clearly God had different plans for me! ;-)

sparrow said...

Hope the following makes you laugh. As a very small girl I spent a lot of time in one of the great stately homes of England (I had family who worked there and "lived in"). I distinctly remember a fabulous table in one of the LLLOOONG corridors which I could just about hide under. It was made of the most amazing marble with delicately tooled legs covered in gold leaf.
Later in life, my cousin joked when he went bald "they don't put marble tops on cheap furniture". It immediately reminded me of that fabulous table. I quipped back, "or tables with great legs". So, you see, by default if you have the "smooth top" it also means you must have great legs!!!! Lots of hugs.

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