Losing my hair would be worse than losing my breast. That was among my first thoughts when the doctor told me he found a tumor the size of a hockey puck on my right breast.
We decided on a mastectomy. He prescribed Adriamycin, a drug that would mean complete hair loss. I was only 35 years old, and my long, thick hair would be gone.
Two weeks after the first course of chemotherapy, I was standing in my bathroom and noticed clumps of hair on the bath towel. I was so scared that I started brushing my hair. The more I brushed, the more I lost. I didn’t want to be bald yet. I needed some hair for tomorrow. A few days later, it was all gone.
Time to decide among wigs, turbans or hats.
I chose to wear a wig. But when I pulled on each wig and looked into the mirror, I saw someone else.
I felt like everyone in the store was staring at me. Sure, they were trying on wigs, too, but they had hair.
I tried on all types: short, long, medium, various colors and styles, but nothing came close to my real hair. I finally found one that fit and was close to my style. I became a blonde.
My hair dresser then cut and styled it. Even though I was bald, the new look was something I could live with for the next six months. And did I ever. I never removed my wig those first few months, not even at home, not even overnight. I finally took it off when my daughter, Megan, asked if she could play dress-up and use my wig.
Later, I just stopped caring about being bald. One day I was at the hair salon in a chair getting my wig styled. A group of women waiting to get their hair washed freaked as I yanked off the wig and handed it to my stylist. One lady gasped, “Oh, my God.” Another said, “Look at that.” I laughed.
I’ve come to realize that losing my hair was not the worst part of breast cancer. I had breast reconstructive surgery. A prosthesis is inconvenient, but my decision was the desire to feel whole, complete and “normal” once again.
Am I back to normal? Yes, I am finally there. Twenty years after treatment, I’m not only cancer-free, but also I have lots of hair with a little more curl than before.
So, what happened to the wigs? Downstairs in my daughter’s playroom. We played dress-up after my treatments.