Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy.
Hair usually begins falling out two to four weeks after you start treatment. With Anthony he started to notice accumulations of loose hair on his pillow. His scalp started to feel tender and the hair follicles were poking his scalp and it was hurting him.
You might not think about how important your hair is until you face losing it. We knew this was going to be a big deal. When you have cancer and undergo chemotherapy, the chance of hair loss is very real and it was one of the side effects Anthony feared the most.
For us we knew hair loss is a symbol to the world that he has cancer. And knowing how much he likes his hair we knew he was going to feel uncomfortable being bald.
The doctors said hair loss can have a negative psychological effect on Anthony. They said some patients will choose to shave their hair before it starts to fall out and this might have less of psychological impact on the patient due to them not having to witness their own hair falling out. While others want to keep their hair as long as they can so they just wait for it to fall out. We asked Anthony what did he prefer? Anthony wanted us to wait for his to fall out, so we respected his wishes.
Anthony's Hair Loss
I received a call from Anthony's mom that hair was starting to fall out in chunks. If you touched his hair or slightly pulled on it the whole area will come out with ease. She wanted to come over so I could shave his head. When Anthony walked in the door I could see he was sad and he told us he really didn't want to lose his hair.
To take his mind off of it, I asked him to show me what is going on and he pulled a whole chunk out of his head. So of course I had to try it and we had fun throwing chucks of hair at each other like ninja stars. As we went upstairs I told Anthony that he can shave my head first and then I will do his. He really like that idea and I told him, "we are in this together". Honestly I really was scared to lose my hair too since I have always had a full head of hair. Today was a moment I knew was going to happen and I was dreading every second of it. As I kept a smile on my face so that Anthony would know everything is okay, he took the longest stroke with the hair clippers to my head and made me bald right down the center of my head. He laughed and I laughed and he just wanted to keep on shaving my head. Then I told him it was my turn and we took turns shaving each others hair off.
Afterwards Anthony didn't want anyone to see him. He didn't want to Facetime is cousins or his grandma. He didn't want his friends to see him and he didn't want to go anywhere outside without his head being covered. Being bald really took a toll on Anthony and he didn't like how he looked and he felt weird. I would say it took him a good month before he started to get use to things.
I didn't realize how much I valued my hair too. I do admit losing my hair made me want to hide. For Zoom Meetings at work instead of going live, I kept my picture up instead. And just the mental thoughts that my hair is a direct reflection of my child with cancer. It is a sharp reminder on what all he has to go through.
I don't regret it one bit. And if I needed to I would do all of this in heartbeat again. From the start I knew our lives were going to completely change. And Anthony will have to go through so much just to fight for his life. I made a promise to him that I will be there every step of the way. Daily Anthony always ask why is this happening to him and almost every day I need to remind him that, "we are in this together".
Next article - Chemo 2