Your Hair Does Not Define You

When Nicole stared losing her hair as a result of chemotherapy for Acute Myeoloid Leukemia, it took an emotional toll on her confidence and self-esteem. Read more to find out how she was able to overcome the painful process.

Before my Leukemia diagnosis, I had really pretty long brown hair. I was able to curl it, straighten it and style it any which way I wanted to. I loved my hair and everything about it! I invested in good brushes, hairsprays, shampoos and conditioners to ensure it always looked nice and healthy. Little did I realize how much I was taking it for granted, and how much it would affect me when it started falling out.

A few weeks before I was admitted to start induction chemotherapy, I noticed that my shower drain was clogging frequently. My hair seemed like it was thinning but I honestly didn't think much about it. I shrugged it off because I wasn't in any kind of pain. I ignored it. I figured it was stress-related and would eventually stop.

Now, let's fast forward to the end of induction chemo, when my hair really began to fall out. My scalp became so sore that washing/brushing it was impossible. When I showered, I would sob uncontrollably as the clumps of hair fell down onto the wet tiled floor. It was happening too quickly...I couldn't believe it. It finally came to a point where it was time to do something about it. I was soon facing the inevitable of becoming bald so I made the ballsy decision to buzz it all off. Taking matters into my own hands was euphoric. I felt like I was finally taking charge in my cancer battle. Cancer wasn't going to control my every move!

Months went by with little-to-no hair, although it seemed like an eternity at the time. I repeatedly cried when looking into the mirror because the person staring back at me was unrecognizable. Why does chemo make your hair fall out? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Those questions ran through my mind on a daily basis...but you know what? I couldn't go back and undo any of it - I had to change my thoughts and make the best of it.

So I started shopping around for wigs. The all natural ones were very pricey so I only purchased one. And luckily I had another nice one donated to me from the American Cancer Society. They were both very itchy and a pain in the ass to maintain but I did feel like 'my old self' wearing a wig. As soon as I put on my wigs, I felt like life got better. I smiled more because I felt like the cancer was gone. I looked normal again...I looked like I didn't have cancer.

When summer came around, covering up my bald head became a struggle. My scalp would get hot and the wig would slide off. It gave me headaches too. Wearing a wig while swimming at the beach or pool was impossible so I eventually started going out with my head covered in a scarf...and man did people stare! It made me feel extremely uncomfortable at times but I just had to deal with it one day at a time and remember that all of this was temporary.

It took almost two years to grow my hair out to a length that made me feel confident and womanly again. I went through a lot of lows while I was bald...I felt ugly in a dress, ugly in a bathing suit, and ugly in front of my fiance. But at the end of the day, I got through it. Now I'm so incredibly thankful and appreciative of the brand new hair that's finally growing back. I'm regaining my confidence to where it was before. I now look back and realize how beautiful I actually was bald. Hair does not define the person I am and that's a valuable life lesson I won't ever forget.