See, sometimes when I’m online looking for photos and information for the blog I find myself surfing around and learning things I didn’t even realize I wanted to know…or I did, but I never took the time to find out until I sat down to post to this meandering and wordy blog. Last night I eventually began looking for information on just when hair starts to grow back post-chemo. Here’s a shock…there’s not much info out there. Just the standard “it’s different for everyone” response (trust me when I tell you that everyone who goes through cancer treatment learns to hate that phrase; it’s the doctor’s equivalent of the lawyer’s “it depends.” Both are true statements and both are entirely unhelpful.) Then of course I ran across some postings and inquiries on websites from women whose hair never grew back or did but it was really sparse!! That’s when it was time to get off the internet (and curl up in a bottle of wine….). From what I gather, the “norm” is for hair to start growing back 4 weeks to 3 months after chemo stops. My last chemo was April 30th. So as of today (May 30th) I’m one month out–or to be precise, I’m 4 weeks and 2 days. And here’s what my head looks like from the back:
The hair you see is not growth. Those are the little troopers that never fell out. There are actually more than you can see in this photo, it’s just that they’re blonde so they’re a lot harder to photograph. Another interesting little fact–I never found a photo of another bald chemo patient who didn’t also have that little rash looking spot at the bottom center. I suspect that’s from the wigs.
And yes, you guessed it, I’m going to document the hair growth and see just how long this really does take. Now, it won’t be as fascinating as Chris’s hair growth but let’s be real, he’s a genetic freak in that regard. Mine is more a contribution to science. Right now, I’m thinking it will be the Saturday night (or Sunday morning) post each week. Oh, and it’s not a hair watch without the eyelash/eyebrow close-ups (gory though they are). Did I mention my eyebrows fell out shortly after the eyelashes? Not all the way, but again, just enough to make me look freaky. Here’s what I mean:
Okay, that’s with no make-up, so you can tell several things besides the fact that I have like 6 eyebrow hairs and no eyelashes (actually I have two,but you can’t see them in this photo). You can also tell I seriously require foundation, I’m tired enough to have dark circles, and yes, see, my eyes are a really, really, really dark blue but they are in fact blue. Also, I have eyelash stubble now. It ain’t much, but it does seem to indicate they are coming back in. Fascinating, no? Chris and I both think maybe I have head stubble, but it’s hard to tell if that’s new growth or just those little warrior hairs. And in keeping with that…apparently my nose hair also fell out. It never occurred to me to check that or that such might happen. Because, um…who cares? But yeah, last night I read where somebody else was complaining about that. So of course I had to check, and yep, it’s true. You lose that too! (By the way, the same person who complained about losing nose hair also lost her fingernails!! That is a possible side effect…just not one that happened to me; I know, I know, you thought I had them all. Trust me, I didn’t.)
Now that you’ve seen this, is it any wonder that when I get ready for work in the morning I feel like I’m putting on a costume? First I take a shower–where there isn’t much to wash, nothing to shave, and I can only use “mild” soap (because of radiation)–then when I step out there is almost nothing to dry, then I have to paint myself a face, then draw in some eyes and eyebrows, if it’s an extra special occasion I need to glue on some eyelashes, then I must find shoes that my swollen and painful feet will fit in, then an outfit that coordinates with said shoes (and if it’s a radiation day, the top and bottom must be separate since the top comes off; so no dresses), then find hair or a scarf that matches all the rest. Oh, and then it all melts off during the hot flashes anyway. Cancer Dork is quickly becoming Cancer Clown.
Again, as your reward for reading this far, I have saved the happy part for last. Today I had my first mani/ pedi since all this crap started. Wow did it feel good to sit in that massage chair soaking my feet in the hot, bubbling water and then let them work away getting my hands and feet in summer shape. And despite the fact that my left foot is still having trouble and tends to swell oddly, my hands and feet look so pretty! Which is good, considering how the rest of me looks….