One of my friends was recently told two pieces of advice which could be true for some people, but not true for others. One of the things she was told to do was to buy a wig before starting chemotherapy treatments, although her hair may not fall out until around day 21.


Some people may not lose their hair at all, but the oncologist was pretty sure this was going to occur to her.


The second recommendation was to cut off her hair now, even before treatment begins so she would not have to risk the trauma of going to the wig shop after her hair fell out. Going to the wig shop for me after the loctician cut my locs and the barber shaved my head was not traumatic. Going there with Pat, my spare-hair extraordinaire buddy was special. We had too much fun! (See WiggyWigless Thanksgiving)



We Aren’t All the Same
Okay, the first thing I asked was, “Were any of these people Black?” My reason for asking is – with or without a perm your hair is going to take up more room under the wig. If you wait until there is little to no hair up there, the wig will definitely fit better. That’s what my spare-hair wearing friends tell me.


Second, the reason for not cutting it off now is to decrease the number of questions you have to answer even before you start chemotherapy.  Although she told a number of people, she’s going to get more questions sooner than she would like about having a wig or being bald from everyone, including people who are further removed from her than her acquaintances.


People may not ask about your being bald or suddenly starting to wear a wig, if you are one of those people who is into doing trendy things with your hair. (She isn’t that trendy.)

This reminds me of when I was younger around 7 or 8 years of age and I asked my mother if I could when I met people just tell them my name, age, favorite subject in school and my favorite thing to do in my spare time. She said I couldn’t because they “wanted to ask me the questions themselves”. I felt like it would save so much time and they could get back to talking with my mother sooner.



Telling Your Story
Sometimes telling your story is like that. You do want to tell your story to friends and relatives who will care. You may just want to tell some folks specific things, without their having to ask you separate questions. My mother’s words still ring in my ears – Let them ask questions about what they want to know. Yep, there are some people who may not even want to know what you are going through. And that’s okay too.


Moreover, each time you tell the story you’re affected by it – emotionally and maybe psychologically. Almost like reliving it again. I’m not saying don’t tell what you are going through. Just understand some aspects of the adventure are not going to be easy to tell. Especially when some parts may not be what you expected.


Remember, women going through breast cancer experience PTSD to some extent. The good news is we usually come out of the experience better and stronger than we were before.



What Counts?
So, what of the blog and talking about my experiences. Somehow, it makes me feel better. I do view it as if I am talking to one or two people. I hope I am sharing something that makes your experiences a bit easier, lighter and helps enhance your sense of self – body image.


Is your hair your most remarkable accessory? Most days, I think it’s my earrings.


“For me, hair is an accoutrement. Hair is jewelry. It’s an accessory.” Jill Scott


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Dr. Harriette


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