Jaya - Faith in myself
Here I am in this picture taken 14 months after finishing my chemotherapy treatment. But my secret is that it’s not naturally this dark!
Before treatment for breast cancer my hair was long, healthy and dark with a bit of a wave in it. In my culture taking care of long hair is a part of life. I come from Asia and I have always been a people person. I set up a Gujarati School to give a boost to children to learn their mother tongue language. I also got involved a lot culturally with different groups and local commitments. I didn’t want people to know about my illness and so I knew I wasn't going to give up being a apart of the community I loved.
My personal thoughts were, be positive, be active, look forward and don't dwell on it. In the end you will come out a winner. With the help of Jasmin and her charity I was supported all the way through my hair loss. People in my community only knew about my cancer diagnosis if I choose to tell them.
But it wasn’t easy and I really had to have faith in myself when it came to the time that my hair started to fall out. As a pharmacist working in the same hospital that I was treated in, I was fortunate to find out about the Cancer Hair Care clinic. Jasmin helped me to try different options for covering up and was a shoulder I could cry on when my long hair finally went.
To be honest even though I had faith I could get through it all at first, I just didn't want to part with my long hair. I just didn’t want to accept that I was likely to lose most of my hair. Even though as a pharmacist I understood the side effects of the drugs very well. It was very hard to face up to the reality of it all. I just didn't want any of my family or friends to see me bald or with less hair. There was not an option of scalp cooling in the hospital at the time I had treatment. If there had of been I would have given it a go.
When it came to it, hair loss was a messy business and quite painful. Jasmin kindly cut my hair off when it was coming out in handfuls. She took so much time to care for me.
She showed me how to make the most of my wig by putting in clips and very importantly she taught me how to put it on myself. I remember she said “Jaya I can pop your wig on in no time at all but you need to be able to do it yourself – come on let me show you how’. This is what I love about Jasmin’s charity; she really understands that us women need to be empowered.
We spent time trying on head scarves and I loved having the option of a fringe. They look so odd in a packet but once on your head they make all the difference. I would have never of known about all these special things if it weren’t for the charity.
When my treatment had finished new hair started to grow very soon and after around 4 months I had a very short style all over. It was strange to see curls start to come through and a bit of a shock when silver and greys bits appeared more and more. Having had long dark hair (it was coloured before treatment) my whole life, I wanted to get back to my idea of normal. However I really wanted to use colours that had a more natural base of ingredients.
Once again Jasmin came to support me. She told me that many women shared my view and that we could try some tint that had more natural ingredients then both. But I remember that she was very clear that I needed to do a skin test to check that I didn’t have an allergic reaction to the products before we could go ahead.
Jasmin warned me that sometimes a first colour doesn’t always take so well and that we may need to gradually build up to the colour I wanted. But lucky for me the colour took well and when I looked in the mirror I cried. I saw myself again. It had been a long time since I looked in the mirror and felt that it was me staring back again.
My long dark curls are getting longer and longer – I’m going to grow my hair long again. I wanted to share my experience because I know it would have helped me to hear different views from various people and different cultures.
I wish this charity so much luck. Since my treatment back in 2011 the charity has grown so much. Jasmin has trained up ladies like me to support others and has a fantastic team of dedicated specialist hairdressers and volunteers.
Best of luck to you, whatever your culture and beliefs please have faith in yourself.
Next planned review: February 2022