I’ll Never Forget My First Trip to the Salon During Cancer

Life after cancer is full of milestones, but the one I waited most anxiously for was my first trip to the salon. Well, not counting that time I went as my eyebrows started coming in and I thought I looked like Groucho Marx. Seriously. My stylist had to talk me off the ledge of plucking them back out, reasoning with me that they looked so pronounced because I was still hairless on top of my head. I went home that evening and left the tweezers alone.

The last time I went to the salon was about a month out from my first chemo treatment. I thought I would "take control" and have my long, straight, bottle blond hair cut shorter in anticipation of you-know-what. My sister went through chemo a number of years ago and never lost a hair on her head -- she had also cut hers short. I thought, "It might be in the genes, so I'll cut mine and it might not fall out."

Even my doctors kept telling me, "You are going to lose this beautiful hair."

So I went to the salon and cried at all the hair on the floor as my stylist Deedee worked at giving me a fabulous new 'do. When one of my daughters saw the end result, she said it was "classy, sassy, and a bit badassy." Your kid thinking you are’ badassy’ is pretty awesome if you ask me!

Fast forward: Two weeks later, Treatment #1

Less than two weeks after my first chemo treatment, it started happening. I noticed it on my bed pillow. A few strands at first. Then gobs as I washed my hair in the shower. The first morning that happened, I sobbed. First: 'cause my hair was falling out and I could not do a thing about it. Second: because it felt horrible in my hands. You know how seaweed feels wrapped around your feet or ankles? Kind of like that. Stuck in my fingers, I couldn’t rinse if off fast enough.

The next morning when it happened again, I sobbed again. Same reason. Same feeling. I believe it is one of the most traumatic experiences I have encountered thus far. Silly, I sometimes think, there are worse things. But…this is my story. And my cancer journey. No two are the same.

The morning of that second day, I messaged my bestie. She came to my home that evening with the clippers and shaved what was left off and onto the floor. And she cried with me. Her and my fiancé spent the evening reminding me that it will grow back.

My wardrobe grew by leaps and bounds during that hairless time with scarves, bandanas and hats that were gifted to me by friends or that I purchased myself. My prep time to get to work every day was shortened. Oh, and not having to shave my legs all summer? Bonus.

Fast forward. It’s the day before Halloween: 6 months later

My hair had started growing but it was hard to see. Still very VERY short, and coming in grey and mousey brown (natural colors that I nor anyone else has seen since I was 25 years old). I thought, I should color this lil bit of hair, then I could go hatless again. Annie Lennox came to mind. So chose Halloween as my "brave day." I’ve been hatless ever since.

Fast forward (again – last time I promise!): 3 months later - end of January

FINALLY! The wait was over. It’s grown, and coming in curly! It was time to see Deedee again, get rid of the Bozo The Clown ear wings that were growing. It felt awesome to be in her chair again. Oh, it was a short session. She fixed my "wings" and cleaned up the new growth. And I love it. These curls!!! I know there is a really good chance they will not last but hey, for now, how fun!

PS – The money I saved those months between not going to the salon, shampoo, other hair product, and razors was spent on shoes.

PSS – Every time I lose an eyelash, my stomach drops and I panic a little.


What was your journey with your hair during cancer treatment like? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo courtesy of Aricka Lewis