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Sunday, 2 June 2013

No it's not alright

"Ugly is a field without grass, a plant without leaves, or a head without hair."
Ovid "The Silent Woman"

I have moaned before about losing my hair.  It is, for me, one of the worst side effects of the chemo.  It is also very psychologically damaging as far as I am concerned.  Not because of vanity.  Vanity is not my bag.  It makes me feel vulnerable and the centre of attention.  People really notice when you have no hair.  You tend to get that sympathetic, head-on-one-side, aren't you being brave look.  I don't want to be brave.  I want to keep my hair.

I have suffered from patches of alopecia all my life, when under extreme stress.  But I have never lost all my hair until chemotherapy two years ago.

My dear friend E told me the other day that she thought I looked amazingly powerful when I was bald. I took comfort in that.  She can say things like that to me because she has had alopecia too.  From other people it doesn't ring true but she understands how utterly naked and vulnerable (and cold) one feels without one's hair.

The most shocking thing about losing your hair is just how much you have.  Once it starts to fall out, it seems to be everywhere.  Having a shower means unblocking the plughole at least twice.  Your pillowcase needs changing or hoovering every morning.  Your coats and jumpers grow fur collars during the day.  The floor in the bathroom and the hair brush are a mass of swirling feather-like tendrils.  

And yet there is still more to come.

You run your fingers through your hair and come away with clumps in your hand.  You push your sunglasses on your head and dislodge another wedge from your brow line.  You turn your head to the side in the wind and watch wisps catch in the breeze and disappear.

I think the worst moment came this morning when I realised that my eyelashes are going.  Desperately waving "thickening" mascara at them this morning to cover it up, I found myself brushing individual lashes with each sweep.

I am not a vain person.  However, I am not a natural bald one either.


  1. So sorry, Charlotte!!

  2. That stinks, Charlotte. HATE cancer.

  3. Sounds utterly horrible. Thank you for your honesty. I'm so sorry, I hope that it grows back soon, thick and curly and lush. :)