Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

And That’s Why I Didn’t Take off my Wig

I have written about hair many times on my blog. Losing your hair and then having it grow back just to lose it again can be very devastating.  A friend of mine used to work with a hair care company and she told me that research showed that in over 90% of women, there is a very strong correlation between “personal hair satisfaction” and “self-confidence.” I am not surprised at all.

I wrote a long, very emotional journal entry on 8/30/09 that talked about how I don’t like people to inquire about the status of my hair growth when I am off treatment.  While I encourage you to read the entry in its entirety, the summary is that I think it makes other people (not me) feel better to see that my hair is growing back. To them, it’s a sign that maybe I am no longer sick. It gives them an opportunity to “breathe” again and believe that this disease is fully and completely behind me (thank you, I appreciate your wanting this end result as much as I do!)

However, the reality though is that my hair growth is merely a physical representation of the fact that I haven’t had chemo in a few months. In no way does it mean that my odds of the cancer coming back have changed nor that I am in the clear health-wise. 

So, I made the decision a long time ago that I would not take my wig off until I had beaten my last cancer-free record of 13 months.  Call it a defense mechanism, but I wanted to avoid the devastation that I would experience if I took off the wig just to relapse again.

Despite objections from friends and family, I patiently waited in these past month until I could hit June which would have been 13 months.  Well, unfortunately I only made it about 9 months until the cancer returned. However, the chemo I was first put on doesn’t make your hair fall out! I was so excited! Maybe this was the best of both worlds. I could still actively take care of my health AND have my hair grow back! 

But it was not to be.  When we switched to a different treatment last month, the drugs were strong and I was told my hair would fall out about day 16-18 into the treatment.  I had made it about 11 months but I would not pass my goal. 

Of course, when you realize you are about to lose your hair again, you start to realize that you like it.  These past few weeks I started to wear my wig less often at home and I started to “style” my hair in the mirror, commenting, “It’s not for me but it’s kind of cute!” 

The ultimate irony is that it started to fall out these past few days AFTER we found out that this chemo also isn’t working.  As I watched my hair fall out in clumps these past few days, and went to have it shaved off yesterday, I realized that I lost 10 months of progress due to 1 lousy 3-day chemo infusion that didn’t even work!  I am back at square one…starting over (with a 3rd type of treatment that doesn’t have hair loss as a side effect.)

So, how does a 5-time cancer survivor console herself? Some women buy shoes, I have learned to buy wigs!  My stylist Edward and I decided to shake it up a bit this time and I am going auburn!  I picked it up yesterday and I love it!  With wigs this great, who needs real hair?!?

 And that’s why I didn’t take off my wig!