More Than Skin Deep: Coping with hair loss during chemotherapy

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I asked my sister, Sherry Strickland, who happens to be the funniest person I know, what she thought would be a fun story for my readers. Her response was, “Well, how about no hair?”

I knew immediately what she meant, but I failed to see the humor in it.

The fact that this was the first thing that came to her mind amazed me and deepened my appreciation of what an incredible sister I have – and for the courage and strength women can have in the most horrible of situations.

My sister is a breast cancer survivor. She is one of the many women who have dealt with the effects of chemotherapy hair loss. Her shoulder-length, beautiful, thick red hair came out in clumps.

When she called and asked me to bring over the clippers so that I could shave her head, I had no idea what to expect. I went into the bathroom and there she sat, looking like a Chernobyl accident.

But instead of being all gloom and doom, without hesitation she pulled out one of the half a dozen wigs she had already picked out and in an instant she was a blonde with a cute bob haircut, a redhead with long hair that looked like her own and then a brunette with a short pixie cut.

The hat parties came later, with the photos of herself and her brand new friends sporting crazy hats. She speaks at support groups and raises money for the cause – always positive, always happy to be given a second chance at life.

More than five years later and cancer free, my sister lives each day to the fullest, with a happy heart and a strong conviction to enjoy family, friends and each moment.

I have had many clients over the years go though breast cancer treatments, some more extensive than others. The treatments make you feel sick, and with your bald head, you think you look terrible.

But you have a glow, and it’s not from the radiation. It is the same kind of a glow a pregnant woman has. It is an unexplainable beauty. Maybe it is the fight for life. But even when I see you out in the world, tired of your wig and bald, you ladies who think you are ugly are probably the most beautiful women I have ever seen.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Men can get breast cancer too. If you feel a lump, have a mammogram just to be sure.


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