When I last went to the LOC for my blood test and talked to one of the nurses there, she said that most people experience hair loss roundabout 14 days after their first chemo. I find it curious how I don’t feel the effect of the drugs in my body but that they’re obviously still doing their thing all these days after my first treatment. So I woke up yesterday morning (15 days after the chemo) and as I put my hand through my hair, I noticed a few strands coming out towards the bottom half at the back of my head. I ran my hand through that part again and more hair came out. Shit! It doesn’t really matter whether you expect something or know it might happen, it’s still a shock. And it was. After shedding a few tears and hairs, I got myself together and got on with my day.
The good news is that I haven’t lost any hair anywhere else. I’m guessing that the hair falling out at the moment is the lower part which wasn’t covered by the cold cap. It’s the shorter hair which is right at the back and bottom of my head. Other hair seems to be still growing as I’m keeping a close eye on my legs which still need shaving. I’ll be happy if it stays this way and will focus on keeping positive. A few people suggested I should cut my hair shorter. I don’t really see the point in that. I love my hair as it is and if it starts falling out in certain places, surely I have a better chance of covering those places with longer hair. If I do end up losing a lot of hair, I can still get it cut short or even grab a razor and spare me from too much frustration. But hopefully it won’t come to that. It is of course nice to hear that I would probably look good without hair (heard it a few times) but it doesn’t provide me with any comfort. I guess I feel that my curly hair is so much a part of me, my personality and it’s tough to contemplate what it might be like without it. Yes it’s temporary and yes it grows back – it still doesn’t make it joyful.
I had a check-up with my oncologist earlier this week and thought I’d take the opportunity to quiz her some more about Radiotherapy. She was as straight talking as ever and said that the benefits that recent studies have shown are again a cross-section of age, stages etc. I asked her about the risk of recurrence on the same side and she said that from her experience of being a breast surgeon all these years, it is an extremely rare thing given that I had a mastectomy. In cases of lumpectomies, radio therapy is often recommended to clear the tissue around the surgery I guess. So if risk of recurrence on the same side is so rare and everything was removed with safe margins and radio therapy can only be given once a lifetime to a certain area, I will opt for not having radio. We also spoke about double mastectomies. I’ve been wondering about this for a while, e.g. is it safer to a have a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of recurrence on the other side? In the US, it seems that many women undergo double mastectomies and doctors encourage it. She agreed that this was the case in the US but said that it was done mainly out of fear. Just because it happened on one side, doesn’t mean it will on the other side. Anything that develops on the other side would be regarded as a new cancer rather than a recurrence. Recurrence is a scary word and I felt good about having this conversation with her.
We also discussed next steps (after chemo) with regards to the implant etc. and she added some more saline to the temporary implant to increase the size slightly. It now feels more like a breast actually, quite happy with that. Conversations about the aesthetic side of surgery that will follow prompted me to have a look online at what other people have done. And with that, I came across some beautiful tattoos on mastectomies. To be fair, my scar is small compared to what I see on these images but some of these are great, like this one, this one or this one. And why the hell not?! Don’t know if I would do it – all depends how I feel in a few weeks’ time. As long as it’s something small, tasteful and won’t necessarily show in a bikini. Talking of bikini – can’t wait for warm sunshine. One week until I’m half way through chemo and a few more weeks until I can escape into sunshine and warmth!