Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Bad Hair Day

Everyone has had a "bad-hair" day.  Since yesterday, however, I'm having a no-hair day!    While people have been shocked that most of my hair has stayed in tact so far, little bits of hair have been falling out over the last several weeks.  Last night, however, my hair decided it was through with me!  Just running my fingers through my hair produced thick black strands, which I dropped into piles on the floor and on my bed.  Now, I'm down to a "baby ostrich" phase/look.

I think one of the biggest physical signs we associate with cancer is baldness.  Chemo attacks the fast growing cells in our bodies, which includes our hair and nail cells.  Last time I had cancer, my hair hung on for quite a while, and I never went completely smooth, just all the way down to a few wisps, tactically redistributed!  Since the majority of my hair stayed this far into transplant, I had settled into a pleasant anticipation of keeping my hair (a few BMT patients have kept all their hair!)

As a girl, I always enjoyed trying new hairstyles, finding new accessories, or even simply washing my hair.  So it is incredibly tough to go bald.  While I can't say that I experience any raw emotions, I know that there is a very subtle, yet intense inner emotional component that gnaws at me.  For instance, the inner pain compounded into a major meltdown at 2AM  last night!  Every time I see a pile of hair, my hair, I feel a sharp twinge of emotion.  Sometimes I just feel really sad that I'm going bald; other times I feel stabs of loneliness of being in the 'exclusive' bald club.  But one of the hardest elements overall is watching my parents watch me. Their faces convolute with incredible emotions, including sadness and helplessness.  I have a therapeutic habit of pulling  gently taking my hair out (which my parents beg me not to do).  There is something weirdly comforting to feel the coarse strands of dead hair;  it's kinda like I'm saying goodbye to my hair.
A bit of the hand-picked deluge...more pictures in the next few days!
When I entered college last fall, my head was completely shaved. It was extremely difficult at first, as I saw hair color, style, and lengths of all sorts.  One of my biggest coping methods was wearing loud or big earrings that made a statement. I figured that since I didn't have the privilege of choosing different hairstyles, earrings were as close as I could get; they also filled the feminine gap I felt. Sometimes I hid under a colorful scarf.  As the semester progressed,  my hair started to grow.  Understanding and supportive friends complemented me on the baby hair bows, glittery headbands, and teeny barrettes I started putting in my hair;  thank you college friends, for supporting me and helping me regain some of the self-esteem and confidence my hair stole from me.
 Half-way gone...

A little help to hasten the departure...Joseph and Daniel pulling my hair when no one else was around to stop them :)
Last time I faced the bald challenge with the help of handmade crocheted hats from a dear friend, a bear hat from my dad's coworker, and other whimsical hats.  All in all, I think I'm ready to face this new "bald battle" again!  I know I'll get through this with the help of my dear family, wonderful friends, and "ever present comfort in time of trouble" the Lord.
For the hairs of your head are numbered [by God]...Matthew 10:30 He cares enough to count them, and so He will take care of me!!

 Starting to see my scalp...
I've gone 'smooth' in the back! 
P.S. This post feels really awkward and disconnected to me, and I'm sorry.  I just wanted to write something down now, before the sharp pain dims to a dull ache.  I feel this is just a diary of a few of the thoughts that have been swimming in my head today.  


  1. Bald or not--we love you, Jen! I can't even imagine losing my hair like that, but I know it would be a tremendous loss. Hair doesn't make a person, fortunately; it's heart that counts. Praying for you and hoping to visit you soon!

  2. Praying for you Jen. Thank you for writing your thoughts and emotions down for us to read. It helps us know how to best pray for you.

  3. Praying, praying for you, my sweet friend. This post has me getting serious about another hat for you. You are beautiful. Period.

  4. You are beautiful, inside and out ... with or without hair. Praying for you many times each day. We love you lots!

  5. Jen writing here to tell you that you have Christian family here in Chicago praying for you! There is a lady in our church that asks for updates of you (and Sam). Her name is Diane and she herself has been diagnosed with cancer recently. Keep fighting!

  6. just wanting you to know I will be praying for you. thank you for being so transparent in this trial and exclamation of hair loss I can't even imagine....not only the struggle of fighting cancer but then adding losing your hair. I will pray you continually gain strength from God each day!