Hair

Warning: This is potentially a TMI post. Read at your own risk!

Kurt with hair
Kurt with hair
Before my cancer and all the chemo, I saw myself similar to how Ricky Bobby saw himself in the movie Talladega Nights: I’m just a big hairy American winning machine, you know. That was me. I was confident, happy, had a wonderful family, a great job, felt strong and in okay shape, and I had a thick mane of hair on my head and a decent coat of fur all over my body. I was no back shaver, mind you (not that there is anything wrong with those of my friends who feel the need to shave the back…you gotta do what you gotta do) but I definitely had some hair to be proud of. But all of that, especially the confidence, the being in shape, and the hair, changed after the chemo.

Now I know some of you are wondering—I know I was before I started getting the chemo, so I asked my nurse—does one lose ALL their hair from the chemo treatments? The answer I got was that it depends. It depends on the person, the type of chemo, and the amount of chemo received. I would just have to wait and see.

It turned out that during the first phase, things moved slowly hair loss-wise. It took several weeks before any hair on my head started falling out and a couple more weeks before my beard began thinning out. I never noticed the loss of any body hair. I will say, it was very unsettling when the hair on my head began falling out in earnest and I would wake up in the morning to see big piles of it all over my pillow and bed. Once that started happening, I went directly to the barber and had my head shaved.

Shaved head
Shaved head
It’s not as easy as you think to get your head shaved. When I went, my regular barber was crowded so, not wanting to have to sit around and explain to the regulars about my cancer, I went to another barber that I had only been to once before. It was empty so I went in. The barber was a female and after I sat down and explained that I wanted my head shaved, she almost seemed offended, but in a cheesy, middle-aged flirty kind of way. She gave me the third degree and wanted to know why I wanted my head shaved. Still in no mood to discuss my cancer, I just said something rather curt about me being sick of having such thick hair to mess with. She reluctantly began shaving it off, but as she did, she went on the whole time about how a guy should never shave off such a nice head of hair. (I have another story about my hair and my youngest son’s ill-fated attempt at trying to shave if off…but that’s for another time.)

I had a couple of weeks off between phase one and phase two treatments. During the time off, the hair on my head and face started growing back in rather quickly. But again, after a few weeks of the phase two chemo treatments, both head and facial hair began thinning out. Again, I did not notice the loss of any body hair. This time, because the hair on my head was so short, I was able to shave it off myself.

Before the transplant
Before the transplant
During the first two phases, while I did lose a lot of hair, I never lost all of it on either my head or face. But all that changed after I received the large doses of chemo in preparation for my bone marrow transplant. About two weeks after the treatment, hair everywhere began falling out. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere. After about a month, the only hair I had left on my body was my eyebrows and my eyelashes. My body was smooth as a newborn baby. I won’t go too much into details, but I will say, things feel a lot different without hair in the places where you’ve been used to having it. I was left feeling very incomplete and somewhat insecure. I didn’t like it at all.

But now, finally, it’s all coming back and I’m beginning to feel much more like my old self. And by old, I mean much older. As you can see, even though I looked older than my age before, this whole cancer ordeal has aged me even more. And even though I’ll still be completely gray on top, I’ll be glad to have it back and I promise not to complain when it once again gets too long and too thick and too hot on my head. And I won’t, in frustration, ask my son to shave it off (again, we’ll leave that story for another day).

Coming back!
Coming back!

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14 Replies to “Hair”

  1. Great to hear that you are feeling more like yourself. The fact that maybe you’ve aged a little more doesn’t matter. All your friends and family will still love you.

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    1. Agree. Definitely not worried about how old I look. I was just making an observation. I will take recovering while looking a little worse for wear over the alternative any day. :) Thanks Kristen.

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    1. Hi Lynn. Unfortunately, the all white look is not new for me. My original hair color started calling it quits on me when I turned 18. What is not necessarily new but more prevalent, is the leathery, aged look of my face and the weak, sore, barely responsive muscles I have. Just goes to show how hard my body has been and is working for me to keep me around, I guess. :)
      Take care,
      kurt

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  2. Appearing Old… Bah!!! Experienced maybe, but that is ALWAYS a good thing!! You have proved the old adage yet again… men age better. :-)

    Glad to see you smiling and posting and all around doing well.

    Love ya,
    Jodi

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    1. Hey, there you are. Hadn’t heard from you in a while and was wondering where you been. Yeah, feeling better day by day. Glad to hear from you. Give my love to the family.
      Love kurt

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  3. Hey Kurt…looking at all the pictures and I see Jim Brindley…quess you have to be my age to know that….you are as handsome as ever!
    Love to you!

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  4. When I saw your present picture, I thought it was your father’s old days’ picture! You look wise just as much as philosophers do…and I know you are! Thank you for telling us this very personal story! Love, Chihi

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  5. Hey Kurt,
    You look great! Thanks for being soo open through out this entire experience. I think u look more distinguished and even more when all of your hair comes back. Glad u haven’t lost ur sense of humor.

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  6. Hi Christie! It’s great to hear from you. Thanks for all of your support throughout this ordeal. Please tell everyone at work I said hello. Miss you all!
    Take care Christie and thanks again.
    kurt

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