Who notices the odd, innocuous stray hair?
Perhaps you occasionally see a few poking out of your hairbrush bristles, or accumulating in the plughole of your shower. Perhaps you casually brush one off your cheek, or pull it from the knitted loops of your jumper?
I have always grumpily noticed the ones my husband leaves strewn through the bathroom sink after shaving, that’s for sure. Although now that he is cultivating a fair bit of facial hair, the scatters of stray hairs are likely mine. EEK!
I pore over them. I try and count them. It’s become a weirdly wretched obsession!
Each morning and throughout the day I run my fingers along the length of my scalp, pulling ever so lightly, and glance down at the result. Was that three more since lunch-time?
I do a gentle tug-test: Yup, there go a couple more.
I haven’t washed my hair at all this week! (I know – Ew) I’m totally paranoid the lather of shampoo suds or cascades of water will somehow wash everything away. Or worse still, reveal mangy patches of bare skin for all to see. Now that would be an attractive look!
I’m almost tempted to go the full buzz-cut now, even while my head hair is still quite intact. Remember how fierce Demi Moore looked in G.I. Jane? She totally rocked that shaved head even after the filming stopped.
Who else is there? Natalie Portman, in V for Vendetta, Sigourney Weaver in Alien, Cate Blanchett in Heaven. All bald. All beautiful. Take a look:
Somehow I’m not sure my bald noggin will be as spectacular as that of an A-list celebrity! I’ll most likely be more Alien than Ripley…especially with chemo-induced red eyes, pasty skin and ornamental vom-bag!
My oncology nurse has said to give it time. The fact that I’m almost three weeks past my first chemo cycle and still have good scalp coverage is a positive sign. Perhaps that the cold cap I wear for more than five hours each chemo day is worth it. Even the accompanying giant ice-cream headache that goes along with it is totally endurable if it keeps most of my hair intact!
Without it, I’d lose the lot without question.
The scalp-cooling cap is a fairly new thing. In fact, of all the women I’ve met so far along this breast cancer journey, hardly any have had access to it. I know it isn’t a technology that’s available to every single cancer patient. It’s very much dependent on the type of cancer you have, and your personal treatment regimen.
The idea behind scalp cooling to reduce hair loss is that each hair grows out of a hair follicle, and small blood vessels in the scalp supply the cells of these hair follicles with nutrients and oxygen. Therefore, any cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs in the bloodstream will be carried to the hair follicles too.
The cap circulates coolant very close to your head. It’s pretty darn cold, I must say. Cold enough that tiny icicles even form on your hair! I felt like I was channelling my inner-Elsa. As the cap cools and constricts the blood vessels in your scalp, it lessens blood flow through them and the amount of chemotherapy drugs that are able to reach your hair follicles. It also makes you look like this:
It doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t prevent hair loss altogether, but it can diminish it somewhat.
So until further notice, I shall keep waiting. I will undoubtedly keep poring over our plughole and counting my stray hairs. I will keep all my fingers and toes crossed for bountiful locks, but I will bloody well be buzz-cutting at the first sign of mange.