This is probably the hardest blog post I’ve done. I’m super content with the fact I have no hair, because it’s all I’ve known for the past five months, and I’ve got used to it. I knew from the day I was diagnosed that hair loss was inevitable, so I never really gave myself the chance to worry about it. I’ve been really brave about losing my hair, but
psychologically I think it has affected me in different ways. It’s not just losing/having no hair that you have to deal with, the difficult part, is other people. What they might think, what they might say… it’s really daunting. One of my biggest difficulties has been do I share this with everyone reading my blog, or do I keep this part private? I feel like I have been so honest, I often wonder, should I have just never posted anything about my cancer? Should I have just kept it private? But then I think of all the people who have messaged me to say I have really inspired them or helped them, and so many people have simply thanked me for choosing to write a blog, that I also feel I should continue.
I really do worry too much about what other people think, I’m sure there are people out
there who think ‘why on earth would you share everything like this on social media’ but those are my exact reasons. So this is where my Instagram dilemma got quite stressful. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But I have had so many people who have left comments asking how I look so amazing still as I go into my seventh round of chemo, and people who have been to see me without my wig have been so surprised at how I’ve kept a ‘normal’ image of me on Instagram. It’s left me feeling quite guilty, like I need to reassure people that honestly, that picture just has a filter and a wig, it is still me but I genuinely have lost all of my hair. I just haven’t been brave enough yet to share that look on social media, which is sadly the world we live in now. I still find myself asking people ‘do you mind if I don’t wear my wig?’ when they are visiting, like I have to warn them for what they are about to see. I’ll often ask my mum if it’s ‘appropriate’ to have no wig on for certain people or if it will ‘freak’ them out, especially children. She thinks this is ridiculous and I should do whatever I feel most comfortable doing. But anyway my family are biased, they all prefer me without hair now and think it’s strange when I wear my wig! Hair is such a massive part of our image, for boys and girls, and I’ve honestly started to believe that bald is beautiful and I can’t believe more people don’t shave their heads… it’s so low maintenance!
So in September, after my second round of chemo, my hair started to fall out. I was told that this would happen at some point, but you still wonder how it’s going to happen…
will I wake up bald one day or does it fly out in the wind or what? Well for me, I was at home, and it started by little sheds of hair falling out on to my pillow, overnight. It was really fine hairs, like the kind of hair your pet leaves on the sofa, nothing majorly concerning, but something you’ve not woken up to before! I showed my mum and she said that it wasn’t much and that might be all I lose for now, and she was quite right. I was so scared to wash it, I just imagined covering it with water, and the whole lot sliding out in my hand, but even that didn’t happen so dramatically! I remember looking in the mirror, and covering my hair with my hands, trying to see what I was going to look like without hair, but just for future reference, don’t do that, it actually makes you look worse than you do without the hair!
I have been asked by people why I didn’t opt for a ‘cold cap’ during chemo. I only briefly asked my consultant about this, and she almost dismissed the idea straight away. Unfortunately for me, the type of chemo I was having would definitely cause hair loss, so putting myself through a cold cap would just be painful and ineffective. I’m not really sure but I think a cold cap is literally as it sounds, filled with cooling gel it manages to somehow reduce the amount of chemo that reaches the hair follicles. As the days went on during this second cycle, it was coming out in clumps. I couldn’t stop it from happening, so I was pulling it out myself just to show people how easily it was falling out… it was oddly satisfying! I remember pulling out one chunk to show my brother, and it left a view of my scalp, and this was so frightening. I knew my hair was coming out but I hadn’t seen actual ‘bald’ until this point. So then I really did stop pulling it out and tried to avoid more hair loss.
Of course this is so strange, I’ve gone 21 years not knowing what my head looks like beneath my hair, and I had never planned on finding out! That night after the pulling out, I was in hospital, and I went to sleep with my hair tied in a bun, hoping it would hold it altogether still. But in the morning, I woke up and it was like all my hair had died overnight. It had gone black, it was all matted together and I couldn’t even get the hair bobble out. This point got so frustrating, as there was still shedding on my pillow, a pile of hair next to my bed I’d pulled out the day before, and I just wanted to get rid of it all, I didn’t want to save it anymore. It was a Saturday morning and my brother and his girlfriend came to visit me on the ward. I was showing them my new matted style and we all agreed today would be the day we shaved it all off! I never thought I’d want to do this, but I was desperate to get rid of it all! We phoned my parents who were in the city centre at this point, with my grandparents, and they said they would buy an electric razor (or something?) and would do it for me when they returned.
I never thought I would be asking my dad to shave my hair off, what a bizarre life I am living at the moment. I have always been in such a battle with my hair, I’ve had hair
extensions on and off for the past four years, and have just always struggled with my natural hair. I think all the years of colouring it and bleaching it just ruined it, it didn’t grow for about ten years and when it did it just snapped off, so maybe in an unextreme way, I needed to shave it all off in the hope it grows back healthy and beautiful (I pray). It felt like I was gaining some control over this whole process, I didn’t want cancer or chemo to strip everything from me, so doing this felt as though I had made at least one choice about my body.
My family were there for support and there was definitely more laughter than tears during the shaving, and I didn’t look in the mirror until the very end. They did actually film the whole process but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to share it with the world, at the moment! It was really, really weird the first night I went to bed, resting my head on a pillow was so soft and cold. In hospital you’re in the most natural environment to go through this, all the nurses were so surprised to see my hair go so quickly, but they see bald heads every day – they barely even mentioned it to me! I’m quite lucky because my head is quite small and it doesn’t have any lumps or bumps so it hasn’t been too difficult to get used to. I absolutely admire everyone who goes through hair loss, not just due to chemotherapy but other conditions also. It isn’t talked about nearly enough and I’d love to chat to other people who have been through this and how they choose to look on a daily basis.
I’ve now got two wigs, one I had custom made for free, by The Little Princess Trust. Another is quite a bit shorter, and was also custom made, by the stylists at Christos in Newport Pagnell. The staff there are the friendliest people I have ever met, the perfect people for specialising in something so personal. My appointment was also two days before Christmas, so you can imagine how crazy busy the salon was, yet they still managed to make me feel comfortable and private.
I wasn’t keen on the original colour of the wig, so I told them exactly how I wanted it and they coloured and styled it to match my wishes, and I LOVE it! They do look really natural, and most people say you wouldn’t know they were wigs, but I know and it doesn’t always feel natural to be wearing one, but at least when I do want to go out I have these options available.
My lovely friend Francesca has started her own photography business,
and managed to convince me to have a few photos taken without my wig, as a way of documenting this period of my life, rather than ignoring it ever happening. I HATE having my photo taken and I definitely didn’t enjoy looking through them afterwards, but she is amazing at what she does. She has a fabulous set-up, lighting and camera, and brought all the cute props along. She made me feel really comfortable and literally just told me what to do for each photo, as I’m so unnatural in front of a camera this was perfect direction for me. I’ve shared a couple on here and on my Instagram after sharing this blog @oopsydaaisy so go and have a nose at her talent!
Of course chemo isn’t just going to kill the hair follicles on my head, it gets them ALL. I am literally as smooth as a baby, I shaved all my leg, arm, underarm and private lady areas (cringe) clean and it hasn’t grown back since! It’s been so dreamy. The strangest hair loss has been inside my nose. I didn’t even consider nose hair, it’s not something I’ve ever noticed on myself, but now my nose runs like a tap, because there isn’t any hair in there to do its filtering job or whatever its purpose is! I lost my eyelashes and eyebrows very gradually, and by about the fourth and fifth cycle they were completely gone. I think I took this worse than losing my head hair! Because now when I look in the mirror I really don’t look like myself anymore, so I’ve made more of an effort with drawing these on than I have wearing my wig. I have got tiny fuzzy growth now on my head, I’m looking forward to seeing what it comes back like. Some people say it can come back completely different to before!
Before I go, if you are thinking of donating your hair to create a wig for a little girl, or someone like me, you can do this here: http://www.littleprincesses.org.uk/donate-hair/ you DO NOT have to shave your head! As long as you have 12”/30cm, you can donate these as ponytails.
And also, as ever, please donate anything you can to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/daisyellis to continue helping us raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust.
“Follow” my blog, (bottom right corner) and you can receive an e-mail every time I post (if you want to). Please share my blog with as many people as possible, so I can support others and just help people to understand this process!!!
daisy x x