It had to come up sooner or later, reminding me of this Seinfeld bit:
How true…except when going through chemo. Each hair you see on your pillow you want to keep and not let it go. I can’t speak for those going through any other chemo cocktail but mine, but it has been a lot more difficult than I imagined. I know the voices in my head are right: “it will grow back even thicker, curlier and more beautiful,” “It’s only hair,” “It’s the inside that counts.” Well, when it’s falling out of your head, you don’t hear encouraging thoughts – only four letter words spew from your mouth.
Normally, people about to start chemo, who know for sure that they will lose their hair, prepare themselves. Some shave their heads, some cut it, most pick out and order wigs. Since I am going through AVD (no B, thank goodness), there is a slight chance that all my hair won’t fall out. How do you prepare for that?
My doctor said maybe it would be a good idea to cut it short so it didn’t clog up the drain. So, of course, I did the opposite. I thought, screw it, I want to look like me as long as possible. Who cares about drains? The third week (after the second treatment) the hair started to go…I couldn’t help but notice that the back of my shirts, pillowcases, sweaters were covered with hair. Washing my hair was even more fun. It was all matted from falling out the night before and impossible to comb without pulling. It felt like half the hair on my head was at the bottom of the shower.
It was time to get some professional help. My Mom’s stylist, Mel, at her neighborhood Hair Cuttery, came to the rescue. I explained the situation and she took control. She washed it with the special shampoo I had brought and then carefully combed the rat’s nest that my hair had become. Much more left my skull but some of it was still hanging on for dear life. Once combed out, off went three inches to add a bit of bounce. Mel had saved the day.
A chemotherapy session later (#3 – the next posting) and more fell to the floor. It was at that point that I was super depressed and decided it was time to take control. Did some research and called around. Found two wigs specialists – one local to me here in Philadelphia and one in New York.
Both had very different approaches. The local one was sure I would lose my hair right away and told me it cut off and buy a wig as soon as possible. I burst into tears. I think he was a bit upset by my open display of emotion and offered me some additional options. Since I wasn’t ready to commit to getting a full wig, he produced a Halo Bob and a blue cap. It makes you look like you have loads of hair…but don’t remove the cap or you see the truth!
The next day we went into New York to see the most famous wig man in the USA. He worked his magic for Vidal Sassoon and has been there for the ladies who need him ever since. He was a doll. Born in Sicily, he used his Italian charm to make me feel totally at ease. He had absolutely no attitude. He examined the few locks I had left and said it could go either way, I might lose it or not. He made it clear that he had a few wigs around that could be used at a moment’s notice and not to worry. The most distressing thing for me would be when I lose it from my hairline in front. Then it would be time. Even then, maybe I would just need to get a small fall and not an entire wig. He was there for me whenever I needed him and he could do anything.
He also explained the complexity of wig making and answered all of our questions. He also would teach me how to take care of it myself so I wouldn’t have to worry about coming to see him every month. We left it that I would call him when I needed to. We shook on that!
As of now, it’s still hanging on but at least I am secure knowing that I have a few options. I am just hoping it stays on until my boyfriend comes to visit me on Friday. If not, I know the shoes will be enough!
1. SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER
I loved Philip Kingsley (philipkingsley.com) shampoo & conditioner in p.c. (pre-chemo) life. They are one of the only brands to have a No Scent No Colour line. The shampoo and conditioner have no sulfites, no parebens and are colour free. The conditioner is super conditioning which is great if you are trying to comb out matted chemo hair.
2. MEL at HAIR CUTTERY (or someone like her)
Mel wields her scissors in a tiny local branch of the Hair Cuttery. Find a local place and let them do the dirty work. Take them aside and explain the situation and I am sure they will help.
3. RAFFAELE MOLLICA: raffaelemollica.com
Yes, he is the famous wig guru. They may be expensive but are light as a feather. They are world travelers: ladies from all over come to him for all their postiches. He’s a total sweetheart.
4. WIGS BUYING –
I don’t know much about wigs but since I tried on a few, I know that you need to make sure it’s comfy as you will be wearing it a lot. Otherwise,you will be stuck with a very expensive dust collector. It’s OK to go to a few wig people without committing. Don’t let anyone bully you into buying one brand or type. Ask questions and try it on because it’s about how it feels on your head. If you don’t want to ask someone you know for help finding a wig stockist, call the nicest salon in town and find out if they know someone. I called Frederic Fekkei Salon in New York City for a reference and they called me back in a day and recommended Raffaele Mollica.