Throughout the centuries and decades that follow, hair plays a significant and symbolic role in the lives of many women. It’s our pride and glory, an extension of our beauty, and sometimes our most prized possession. Any occasion that results in traumatic hair loss is heart wrenching especially for women that have gone through cancer and other terminal disease treatments requiring chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy: the treatment that changes it all
Chemotherapy is a cancer preventative treatment that works to stop the growth of cancerous cells and prevent further division and spread of such cells throughout the body. In the process of discontinuing growth of cancer cells, healthy growing cells such as those that promote hair growth are stopped as well leading to the loss of hair from the scalp and face. The other most common side effects of chemotherapy are loss of taste buds and physical tiredness. All areas affected by chemotherapy return to normal about six to ten months after treatments are done. After the battle is won, the most exciting phase is for the re-growth of the hair and of course normal taste buds because who does not like to eat. In this phase there are many steps and helpful tips that will guide you into this revitalization of your life.
Changes in your hair
Chemo curls & changes in hair
In many cases, the curl pattern that you have once had may change in its overall thickness, density, and texture. For example, someone with fine and low density strands may potentially have thicker and coarser hair post-treatment. The structure of the hair follicles is altered creating a wider diameter of the actual follicle causing the curls to grow in a tightly coiled manner. Women who did not have curls before may experience curly regrowth.
New natural color
Yes, you may experience a new natural hair color without any chemicals. Because the follicles and inner chemistry of your body are highly altered between chemotherapy and radiation, for those that go through both, in many cases patients come out with a varied color of their original hair color. For example, some women with dark brown hair return with a lighter brown or those with highly pigmented red undertones may have even more exaggerated and bolder definition with the red pigment throughout their strands.
Changes in your regimen
A new regimen for chemotherapy regrowth
The regrowth of hair after chemotherapy represents a new beginning and an opportunity for better hair care practices. Take this opportunity to fully listen to your hair’s specific needs. It is the best time to push the old bad habits and harsh hair products to the waste and start with a new arsenal of products and care methods.
Nourish from the inside out
Since those taste buds are coming back to normal, now is a great time to incorporate some hair healthy foods into your regular meals. Some of the best tasting and important ones would be eggs and beans for protein which creates the strength in the hair strands. Green vegetables help in the production of natural oils from the scalp as well as salmon for vitamin B-12. And most importantly make a habit of keeping your body hydrated.
Create a safe space
For every positive role model and supporter, there are two people that have negative commentary and thoughts on all that you do. Stressful environments eventually lead to hair loss and poor health conditions. Put those people to the waste side with all the bad habits and horrible hair products. Create a positive and uplifting environment and support system that will encourage you to reach your goals whether they be fitness, hair, or personal. Free yourself of the negativity.
Patience is key
The hardest part of any task and goal anyone wants to accomplish, patience. It takes time for a good thing to turn into something great besides diamonds aren’t made over night. Hair will not grow from once inch to waist length over night. Time, dedication, love, and patience are all you’ll need.
In the end, you are a strong individual for making it through such a traumatic, lengthy, and tiring process. And there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to reach your goals going further. You are woman and forever feminine with or without long hair.
This information is not intended to replace advice from a medical professional. Everyone's case is different; chemotherapy affects people in different ways. Please seek professional help for advice specific to you.
This article has been updated.