Hair today but not long now

Well it’s still here. Mostly.

My hair is now falling out ever so slightly. It’s hard to work out if this is normal and or down to the evil chemo drugs. I know it’s really the later but I’m trying to pretend otherwise.

Just because I lost it all once before it doesn’t make the prospect of this happening all over again any easier.

Through a fog of chemo pain and tiredness I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair. We’ve been through a lot together. I’ve realised that it’s the bad hair days that mean the world to me. And some of them were truly horrific!

It was ten years ago that it last fell out thanks to cancer. Back then, inspired that I had a second chance at life I came up with a list of things I wanted to do once I was better. It was my list for living.

One of the things was to live abroad. Not long after my treatment ended I set out on my big adventure. I was still bald, so me and my wig moved to Moscow to work at the BBC bureau.

A few months and an inch of re-growth later and I ditched the wig. I unveiled my brand new hair at a New Year’s Eve party.

The temperature that night in the Russian capital was about -30. You can see why I’m already well-practised at having a freezing cold head.

Also on the list was working as a foreign correspondent. I was doing just that in Estonia when I thought that my hair was long enough for its first cut.

A friend was helping me translate. Unfortunately she didn’t know how to say, please don’t make it a mullet.

I was beginning to understand that bad hair dos were part of the experience although it couldn’t prepare me for my next hair don’t.

A year or so later and I’d been working like crazy covering the mass protests of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution as the BBC’s Kiev correspondent when I decided as a treat to get my hair dyed for the first time since it’d fallen.

I went in for subtle highlights. I left with bright orange hair.

There was no time to have it corrected properly because a big story broke while I was still in the salon. I had to leave before it was even dry. A few days later and still in shock I got it toned down.

It was with trepidation I got my hair cut and coloured in all sorts of places. It was never quite that awful again although I have blanked out an encounter with a hairdresser in Kosovo who had a very liberal attitude when it came to peroxide.

Now I’ve had to have my long hair cut short. It’s an attempt to stop it all falling out. Apparently it was putting pressure on the follicles. I got it chopped at the hairdressers in the village.

All those memories from my foreign adventure were left in a heap on the floor. I picked up some of locks and stuffed them into an old envelope.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them but I didn’t want them all to be just swept away.

I have to do everything I can to encourage it not to fall out. That means I have to avoid washing and brushing it too much. Then maybe I’ll only lose some of it.

So I’ve got a short bob now. I’m getting used to another hairstyle that I didn’t want. But I’m not sad. This symbolises another important stage in my life – beating cancer again.

18 thoughts on “Hair today but not long now

  1. You are amazing. I find your posts so positive, but truthful, that they are always inspirational to read! I reckon you should edit the subheader (think that is what it is called?) from being “beating cancer, again, hopefully” to just “beating cancer, again” – because you are! Everyone reading your blog no doubt has the same huge hope you can do it as you do, but your attitude and your personality makes me think that whatever happens, you have already beaten it!

    Keep going, and sod the hair!

  2. I would love to see a pic of your Ukraine Orange hair! I hope you don’t lose it all this time – keep up the good work of beating back the bad cells… P x

    • Hmmm I’m not sure if any photos exsist…I tried to hide it under a hat. Mind you my hair took on an orange tinge for ages afterwards! x

  3. I love your writing and I feel like I’m getting to know you all over again. Your strength of spirit is amazing. You keep blasting those cells with the chemo and your positive thinking. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and ‘chanelling’ healing thoughts. I know you’ve got plenty more bad hair days yet to come. Jx

  4. Pre-cancer, I always had “bad hair days”. I tried perms & highlights to get some body in it, to no avail. I finally got tired of fighting it, so I’ve been wearing super-super short hair for years – almost a buzz cut. When my hair started thinning (due to age, I’m thinking), I was surprised at how much it bothered me.

    My cancer treatments are not supposed to impact the hair much, but I’ve been mentally preparing & looking for options. A couple of days ago (on one of the cancer support sites), I saw an article about an artist who puts henna decorations on the scalp instead of covering with a scarf. They looked fabulous! That’s what I will do if I need to.

  5. I read this with my mouth wide open. During those Kyiv days, I had no idea what you were going through. I always thought you had beautiful hair. Plus everyone knows that you are just one positive person most of the time. I wish you the very very very best Helen. If things kick off again in Ukraine, I will personally ask the BBC to send you back to Ukraine. ))))

    • Thanks so much Gerald. Thats very lovely of you to say but it wasn’t always that beautiful!! In that case I may see you back there one day ;)

  6. This is the first post that has made me cry, I have been inspired by your wonderful writing as you have gone long but, this made me cry. To me with a great head of hair and no cancer, what is a few strands on the floor? But to you it is much more than the hair. Thank you for your insight

    • You’re very welcome. And thanks for getting in touch. I didn’t realise that anything I wrote would make anyone cry. Yes my hair is very symbolic to me even though I know that it’s only a small thing really. I’m tying hard not to worry about it too much.

  7. You write with such aplomb Helen. From now on I will start to appreciate all my bad hair days. I’m sure your bob looks great.

  8. Hels, everytime I attempt to get highlights, I end up with orange hair too. Never fails. On you, it would look fine, but on me, with darker skin too, I look like an Oompa Loopa.
    Made you smile?

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