Yesterday was a little tough. I think getting back into a routine and some normalcy caught up with me a bit. But, all in all, it was still a good day.
I saw the oncologist. I have two new prescriptions for heartburn – YAY!! I covered my list of questions and we made jokes about husband’s note taking skills. The tumor itself is still large and in-charge but I have been assured that by my next chemotherapy treatment I will feel a difference. I am so excited for that!! I was reminded to take it easy and rest while I can, as the side effects will be compounded throughout the treatments.
One of the questions that the oncologist and his staff asked me from the start was “How are you going to prepare for hair loss?” The first time I heard this question, I broke down in tears and couldn’t answer it. It was the breaking point for me to let my emotions out. They handed me a business card for a wig shop downtown and said they were the best around. Since that first day, it has become a bit of a normal question and my typical answer is hats and scarves. When the nurse called me to discuss the chemotherapy side effects prior to beginning it last week, she asked if I had given more thought to wearing a wig.
Me: I don’t think that I’m a wig wearing kinda gal.
Nurse: And that’s ok. You don’t have to. It’s about being comfortable and doing what you want to do. One thing to consider, is how your family is going to react to your hair loss. For some, it is hard for them to see their loved one like that. Sometimes the wigs make it easier for them.
I hadn’t thought about that side of it. I hadn’t thought about the impact that my hair loss would have on those around me. The pain they may feel seeing me like that. It hurt a little that it hadn’t occurred to me.
After my appointment yesterday, I decided to drive the extra 15 minutes and check out the wig shop. My husband joked about me “going blonde” on the way there but I was a little nervous. The only experience I’ve had with wigs was when I wore one for Halloween as a kid when I dressed up as a witch. It itched like crazy, it was long and tangled and fell to the side. This is what I envisioned.
When we walked into Ritzy Rags, the owner Leigh Shannon, greeted us kindly and asked how he could help. I hesitated a little before beginning. I choked on the words a bit and I could feel the tears in my eyes fighting to come out.
“I started chemo last week and want to learn more about my options for wigs.” It felt like the longest sentence ever.
Leigh smiled kindly and immediately assured me that he would take great care of me. I felt better instantly. We spent the next hour – which flew by – trying on different styles and colors. The options were endless but Leigh had an eye for what worked best with the shape of my face and my skin tone. He looked at pictures of my hair before I chopped it off and asked questions about how I normally style it. It was fun and I felt a little glamorous.
The wigs were nothing like what I envisioned and were way more comfortable than I anticipated. We landed on a shade that is slightly darker than my normal hair color but worked well with my skin tone and would help soften the effects of the chemo from showing through. Thankfully, Leigh is a huge supporter of the American Cancer Society and offers significant discounts to patients like myself. This made the purchase easier – on my wallet and my mind. I also learned that some insurance companies cover the cost of them, so I will look into submitting for reimbursement too.
It was a nice end to a tiring day. Leigh brightened it with his fun personality, great wigs and laughter!
Today’s internal debate? Do I shave my head before my hair starts falling out in chunks?