Teresa's Story - Wigs and convertibles
“With my wig on, I drove my convertible and said to my friends don’t worry darlings if it comes off you can go get it…"
Meet Teresa, a woman of determination and drive (not just in her convertible!) who has offered to share her hair loss experience. In her own down to earth way she talks us through the ups and downs of covering up hair loss and the relief when it all grows back…
“Thirteen months after my final chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer I am sitting in my dining room, with my new hair tied back (left) and I feel like a completely different woman to a year ago…….I’m not going to lie to you, I was devastated when I found out I had breast cancer, but I was equally as upset about losing my hair. I just was dreading it, all of it. I have always been into fashion, clothes, hair, makeup and generally enjoy getting dressed up for a good night out with the girls. So when I started to lose my hair it was awful, there are no two ways about it, for me it was one of the worst aspects of treatment. Now I know that I am supposed to say I am worried about the cancer, naturally I was, but the hair loss was like a big kick. But bear with me because in my own way I got through it.
So first let me tell you about my hair loss. I was told that my hair would start to fall out around my third treatment and that was spot on. At around seven weeks into treatment it started to fall out. My head was really sensitive to touch for a good few days. Not really painful but very sensitive. Even though I knew hair loss was going to happen, you can’t help but think well maybe it won’t happen just this once, but it did. As I pulled out handfuls of hair, I called my sister, who is a hairdresser and said get rid of it, cut it short. As she snipped away it was literally coming out and she only really needed to snip a few bits. I didn’t want my hair cut with the clippers, I just think that’s too harsh and I suppose I’m lucky as my sister could help. Although I was virtually bald, I did leave just a few wisps of hair just around my hair line, at the sides by my ears. This was just my way of not being totally without hair (but it was really just a few strands and to any one else they would probably think I was mad).
I had already bought a wig (I couldn’t get one that I liked in the shop with my vouchers, so I paid in full for a wig from the fashion range) and it was sitting in the box ready to come out. I spent some time playing around with it and thought ‘right I’m gonna make this work’. So I invested in some thin scarves that I tied around my wig like a head band. The great thing about doing this was that not only did it hold my wig in place but also pulled it down in terms of volume. I felt it looked bulky on top and so the headscarf solved that problem. The other thing is that a scarf helped me to tie in my wig to my outfit. It was something I could treat myself to in place of new hair styling products or getting my hair coloured – I have loads of them in different colours and patterns. But sometimes I just wanted to wear the wig without the scarf. But I didn’t feel confident, as without a scarf on top it felt like it was slipping. A neighbor had told me about a woman who could advise me about wigs and hair care so I called Jasmin (founder of Cancer Hair Care) and she came over to help me. She advised me to wear a wig cap underneath my wig, showed me how to add styling products to make the wig look real and cut a few pieces off here and there to suit my face shape. I just thought that the advice was fantastic and it made such a difference to me. From then on Jasmin popped over to see me or called to see how I was getting on. Along the way she gave me hints and tips and advice on what to expect when my hair started to regrow.
One such time when she dropped by, I was wearing a cap which had long hair attached to it (so it looked like I was just wearing a cap over long hair). I really liked the cap but it had a slight gap where I felt you could see baldness around my hair line. So Jasmin brought some false hair round, cut it and stuck it with glue onto the cap, another thing sorted. The cap was something that I could just throw on around the house or whilst washing my car. It was good to make a break from wearing my wig, because they are hot and my head got really itchy after a day of wig wearing.
I kept myself really busy throughout my treatment, I was tired, but I would just rest on the sofa. I always made sure that I did my make up, penciled on my eyebrows and put on either my wig or cap. I made my own wig stand out of a vase, as I didn’t like any of the ones from the shop. My kids and grandkids hated to see the wig off my head and didn’t really like it when I would occasionally have my head uncovered. I think that hair loss does tell people you are ill and for me I just wanted to get through it and try to keep my sense of style. When I turned up at a friend’s house in my convertible they couldn’t believe it. I just thought …’right I’m gonna do this’, and so with my wig on and a headscarf tightly holding it on my head, we drove along with the wind in our faces I said to my friends ‘don’t worry darlings if it comes off you can go get it!’ You can’t let hair loss stop you from everything you enjoy.
Now let me tell you about when it started to peek through…New hair started to grow before I had finished my last treatment, which Jasmine had told me happens quite often. I massaged it every day and used shampoo and conditioner to keep it healthy. The colour (a light brown) was about the same as before, but the texture was a lot more brittle. It was really frizzy, not curly, but a brittle and fuzzy texture for a good few months. It took around 3 months until my head was covered with a full head of very short hair (about an inch). For me it was all about getting it long again. So I just let it grow and only had a few millimetres trimmed off when it really needed it. I stopped wearing my wig when my hair was a few inches long. As you can see from the picture above, it’s really quite long now and will go back into a short pony tail. I had it coloured a few months ago with blonde highlights which really made me feel like myself again. I am going to keep on growing it and hope to get it back to shoulder length (as it was before). When your hair begins to grow back it is a huge relief and for me meant that my world was moving forward. I agreed to tell you about my experience, because it would have helped me to read about others views but a website like this wasn’t available at the time.
Good luck with your treatment and dealing with your hair loss. It’s not an easy time but my tip to you is to be creative, if you don’t like the wig stand use a vase! If the weathers good get out in your convertible but most of all make your hair work best for you". Teresa
Next planned review: February 2022