Thursday, August 22, 2013

CorpGoth Plans for Chemo

2009, my last short haircut
When the pathology report came in for my breast cancer, it became pretty clear that chemotherapy would be part of my treatment. This was not a huge surprise -- my oncologist discussed all the possible treatments & suggested that chemotherapy might be recommended due to the initial biopsy report, plus since I'm younger (44 years old), it's often better to be more aggressive with treatment to prevent recurrence. Also, younger patients are better able to withstand the side effects of chemo. Another factor is that I'm happily childfree & not concerned with any effect chemo might have on my fertility (the drugs can trigger early menopause, sometimes temporary, sometimes not).

Thus, I'm now scheduled to start chemo at the end of August. There will be four treatments, three weeks apart. Many of the side effects can be managed with additional medications -- as my doctor said, 'the days of people vomiting constantly from chemo should be over.' But I can expect to feel a bit icky for a few days each cycle.

1988, sides shaved,
plus a head tie & lots of AquaNet
The side effect I really want to talk about here, tho', is hair loss. There's no effective way to prevent that, & most every chemo treatment (including mine) does cause it. I can expect to start losing hair from my head & elsewhere perhaps the 12th through 16th day after the first treatment, & that will continue until treatments are over. Hair won't start growing back until after chemo is done.

At first I figured, no big deal, I love wigs! For that matter, in college, I used to shave parts of my head, not quite a mowhawk, but the sides up to my ears & under the back. And one of my college roommates did have a buzzcut. So I know how to use an electric clipper.

2013, my most "natural" wig
with a tiara at Costume College
But then I realized, dang, it takes a long time for hair to grow. When I've had my hair cut into a bob, it'd take a few months to grow out to shoulder length. So I imagine it'd take a year or more to grow from nothing to around shoulder length. That means that if I've lost all of my hair by November of this year, I won't have anything faintly resembling my current hair back until Christmas of next year, if not far after!

Geez. A whole year of wigs & hats & short hair. That's a lot less fun. I've always tended to have longer hair -- I'm a hippie at heart, & I don't get too many short haircuts. I had to hunt around to find the one I used for this post (& notice how all my usual blog posts show long hair). Oh well.

wig I want on eBay!
Instead of wailing & gnashing my teeth, I'm still going to make the best of it. First up: Buy cool wigs! Now's the time to go for colors I can't easily get with my naturally almost-black hair. Purple, burgundy, pink! I already have one black wig that could pass for my normal hair if I need to tone it down for a work meeting. But otherwise, I'm gonna rock the gothic-punk hair while I can.

Next, fun hats! Everywhere I've read about chemo, people say they get tired of wearing wigs (plus, the scalp can be tender at first) & enjoy either going bald sometimes or wearing soft caps.

kitty cap I want on Etsy!
Since I'll be bald during winter, I'll get cold & need hats. So I'll need soft caps for during & right after treatment & more variety of hats later. I like making hats, so maybe I'll design something spiffy for myself too. I posted a bunch of ideas on my costume website with free sewing patterns -- if anyone wants to help sew one for me, let me know :).

Another fun upside: I won't have to go get my brows plucked & waxed (I'm terrible at beating those fuzzy caterpillars into submission), & I'll finally be able to draw them in with cool goth styles.

wig on Etsy I want!

Making lemonade out of lemons. What else can I do?

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