How has breast cancer treatment affected your hair, or a loved one's? Please share any advice.

The diagnosis of cancer is the start of an unwanted journey. It's a very personal experience, but your advice can be a source of empowerment and reassurance. Please share your words of wisdom, and together with Ouidad's Curls for a Cure, we can make a difference in someone's life. Participate for your chance to be one of the weekly winners of Ouidad product!

6 Answers

I haven't been affected by cancer, but I do have an autoimmune disease in which is incurable and people undergo similar treatments (like chemo). As a result of my many medications and illness, I have dealt with various physical changes (weight gain, loss, skin rashes, acne, hair loss, brittle nails, frailer skin, etc.The biggest lesson I have learned from this entire 3+ year ordeal is this: Nothing that happens in your life is a mistake. It was all meant to be, whether you saw it coming or not. Therefore, the only thing you can do is to embrace each thing that happens as something which is meant to help you grow to become a better you. I've learned that I am more than my appearance, my hair, and my skin. I'm so much more than that, and I embrace going through these changes because my soul is stronger than ever. That is what matters most.
Hair is a very important part of a woman’s appearance. It’s the frame of the image we present. You may not think about how important your hair is until you face losing it.As a hairdresser, I was very concerned about losing my hair and was lucky I didn’t lose it all - I lost a softball-sized spot of hair on the back of my head (from going through a 10-hour surgery). My hair also became very dry and brittle. Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body — including those in your hair roots. It may take several weeks after treatment for your hair to recover and begin growing again. When your hair starts to grow back, it will probably be slightly different from the hair you lost. But, the difference is usually temporary. Your new hair might have a different texture or color. It might be curlier than it was before, or it could be gray until the cells that control the pigment in your hair begin functioning again.I practiced what I preach – I cut my hair a bit shorter, pulled it back gently and deep conditioned every two weeks to strengthen what I had. My clients were monitoring the process with me the whole time, turning it into a group study. Within several deep treatments, my hair started growing back with some shine and softness. I felt great and started experimenting with new looks. My clients shared the experience with me and are now able to help and guide their friends and family members going through this tough experience.
Breast cancer treatment changed my outlook on hair. I was diagnosed in 2001 and with prayers and blessing I'm cancer free. At the time you're told that you have cancer, you're hair is the last thing thing on your mind. My oncologist, who I've stayed in touch with socially, looked at my hair and said "You're going to have to cut your hair."  My "old" hair was relaxed and just a bit past my bra strap. He knew that losing it would cause me some concern. Well, just before chemo started, I cut it to shoulder length. He told me it wasn't enough and that I needed to prepare myself. After two treatments, I gave my husband the clippers. I was traumatic but I knew the end result would be my survival.I remember praying one night saying that I just wanted hair that I didn't have to relax. When my hair started to grow back it was curly....3b/c curly. I had no earthly idea of what to do with it. I struggled with product after product until I found Mixed Chicks online one day. Because I didn't know what to do with my hair I flat ironed every Saturday after washing, conditioning, blow drying...all day event. It gave an entirely different meaning to wash day. It also amazed me how some would say to me 'I like your hair when it's straight' or when it was curly 'I can't see your tracks'. Anyway, cancer treatments have taught me to love my hair (however unruly it may be most days) and embrace my head full of curls. It's my crown for making it through treatment and a remember that God answers prayers. Stay strong, laugh and smile everyday because tomorrow is not promised.
No Breast cancer but I recently had surgery for Endometrial cancer Type 2 slightly into Stage 3. I am an artist and a cartoonist, dealing with the news and my reaction was to try and take it from a cartoonist point of view Of course there is nothing funny about cancer as we all know but I thought it would be a good way to express my feelings in hope that others too would focus on other ways to deal with their own experience. I did not find too many folk who would even acknowledge my diagnosis of cancer even a lot of friends turned away. I didn't know or understand why but it caused me to turn to my faith even more to get me by...second by second, moment by moment, day by day. I did have a few friends Online who went through cancers of their own with the hair loss, repeating cancers so it was somewhat of a comfort to know that cancer can be beaten. My cancer walk is still new and unknown even though with the surgery I am cancer free. Forgive the photo I only have a portrait in cartoon at this moment.
I was diagnosed with early stage Triple Negative Breast Cancer in the fall of 2008. My hair was almost mid-back, and because of the chemo regimen to come I was advised to cut it. Fortunately I remembered to look up my local chapter of the American Cancer Society and I found out about their "Look Good Feel Better" events. This is where a group of women who are/will undergo cancer treatment are given, based upon skin tone -  a goody bag of cosmetics and a make-up lesson on how to use them. The lipsticks, eyeliners, blushes etc. are donated by companies such as Bobbi Brown, Almay, Chanel, Estee Lauder etc. Wigs and hairpieces of various styles and colors were available to take home as well.The hairstylist who helped with the event volunteered to cut my hair when it was time to let go. I held on to my hair for as long as a could, which was about two days after my first round of chemotherapy. My hair started to come out in clumps, and the relative with whom I had to move, upon seeing my hair in a waste basket advised me not to leave it there (hide it) because her son (a grown man) might see it (and would be upset)! Now for me, this hair loss was not that traumatic. Difficult YES, but I was mature and realized that if I wanted to survive, this was one of the sacrifices that I had to make. The major sacrifice had already been made several month prior ,with my plastic surgeon present to begin reconstruction. Finding a good support group helped me keep it together. Those you would hope to be there in your time of need may give you the surprise of running away. On television you see communities or groups of friends banding together to help out those in need. This may not happen for you, and you may find that there are times when you will need to discuss or vent about the changes going on with and about you. Having the eyes and ears of those who understand the dynamics of what you and yours are going through may be the only genuine support  have to get you through this difficult time. Several weeks into chemo, as an adverse reaction my skin began to break into a rash. The dermatologist who treated me (an older women) wrote me a prescription (which worked) and advised (unasked by me) that to avoid "chemo hair" to begin using minoxidil at 5%! At that time I really didn't take heed - I just wanted hair of any kind and didn't know or care about "chemo hair." As my hair eventually began to grow out (I had shaved my head a few times for even growth) and it grew in very straight and stiff. I have 3C hair, and had never been bald so I didn't know what to expect. As it grew out I began to see and feel a difference. This hair was hard and unruly and as it grew you could see and feel how different is was from the newer growth underneath. It came back in, taking a few years, In hindsight I wish I had taken the doctors advise about the minoxidil, but at five years after my last chemo this past August I am without (so far) a recurrence and looking forward to my college graduation next May! You can do this - you can get though this.Stay Strong. God bless   
Two and half years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The thought of losing my hair upset me more than having a double mastectomy. I could not bring my self to shave my head so I just got a pixie hair cut and let the remaining hair fall out. Once it started to fall, I was completely bald in 3 days. I learned how to tie different head scarves and wraps and experimented with new makeup, looking good helped me feel better. As I neared my last chemo, I spent a lot of time on the internet searching for any information to speed the return of my hair. As a pharmacist, I knew the importance of Biotin for hair and nails. As soon as my oncologist said I could, I started taking a biotin supplement. I also washed my scalp with dandruff shampoo(I had read that it helps to stimulate the hair follicles). At first, it looked like my hair was growing back straight(I had wavy hair before chemo). But soon it was clear that my hair was going to be MUCH curlier than it was before chemo. Now my hair has grown past my shoulders and I have more curls than I know what to do with. (I later found out that when your hair falls out suddenly, it traumatizes the hair follicles and they shrink. Shorter hair follicles leads to curly hair). I have been experimenting with various products to find what works best for my hair. Thankfully, I received a sample of Ouidad. I works wonders to control my frizz and tangles. My first advice for anyone going through cancer is to find a doctor that you trust and listens to you. Also, accept all offers of help, you are going to need it. Join Gilda's Club, it is a great organization for the cancer patient and their family and friends. Lastly, remember there will be good days and bad days during treatment. Let yourself rest on the bad days and make the most of your good days!