(BlackDoctor.org) — Having gone through the cancer battle with family, clients and friends, I’ve learned that there are some aspects of the battle that it’s best to deal with beforehand, before it becomes overwhelming.
This includes the loss of your hair.
A Naturally Devastating Experience
One of the most difficult aspects of treatment is the devastation of hair loss during chemotherapy. My good friend expressed that the hair loss was almost worst than dealing with the cancer itself. For her, every time someone asked her about the hair loss, she had to relive the pain of coping with cancer itself. As a strong woman coping daily with her disease, she found that providing the explanation and seeing the look of sadness and awkwardness of others, made her really hate the hair loss even more.
For her, it was as if the hair loss was the general announcement of her disease, opening a door she would close over and over again. As a Hair Trauma Expert, I’ve decided to have a pro-active plan of action for anyone facing this battle, designed to provide greater understanding for what exactly happens to hair, as well as ways to minimize the emotional effect.
Hair Loss with Chemotherapy versus Radiation Therapy
Because of advancements in drug therapy, individuals undergoing chemotherapy or radiation experience fewer side effects than before. Nevertheless, chemotherapy comes with more severe side effects than radiation because all of the cells in the body may be affected by the drug being used.
Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss?
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill rapidly growing cells. Our hair follicles divide rapidly, at a similar pace as that of cancer cells and are unfortunately affected by chemotherapy as well.
When Does Hair Loss Occur During Chemotherapy?
Hair loss often begins 10 to 14 days after starting chemotherapy. Your hair may thin gradually, or fall out rapidly in clumps. Many people are surprised that hair loss is frequently not limited to hair on your head, but can affect eyebrows, eyelashes, body hair, and even pubic hair. Hair loss is usually not permanent, and begins to re-grow 4 to 6 weeks after completing chemotherapy. Your hair may come back a different color or texture than before chemotherapy.
Before Your treatment Begins:
• Consider cutting your hair. Short hair tends to look fuller than long hair. As your hair falls out, it won’t be as noticeable if you have short hair.
• Plan ahead. Now is the time to start thinking about wigs, scarves or other head coverings. Whether you choose to wear a head covering to conceal your hair loss is up to you. Ask your doctor to write a prescription for a wig, since the cost may be covered by your health insurance.