For many women, a good hair day can do wonders for your self confidence. So, how would I cope when, on top of everything else knocking me sideways, I started to lose my hair?
One of the main things I associated with chemotherapy was losing your hair. I’ve had a lifelong love-hate relationship with my thick, unruly, frizzy hair. I’ve spent endless hours at the hairdresser having it dyed, streaked and tinted and tried numerous straightening treatments. While my hair was important to me, I knew I didn’t want to endure the torture of a cold cap or the unbearable itch of a wig.
What then were my options? Within a couple weeks of my first treatment my hair started to fall out. Not wanting to have chess board patches I asked a friend to shave it off. I was left with a slight fuzz on top as we didn’t want to get too close to the scalp. I attended a Headwrappers
session and bought some hats, turbans and scarves but, like a wig, they just didn’t feel like me.
Getting a henna crown
Instead, I decided to shave my head and have a henna crown. I was recommended fresh sojat henna cone with lavender essential oil, a henna for sensitive skin. With the lavender, the henna smelt amazing. I arranged for some girlfriends to come over one afternoon to make an event of it and for 90 mins I tried my best to sit still, while the henna artist, a woman called Bindya, worked her magic and somehow designed a symmetrical pattern reminiscent of a 1920’s crotchet cap! I’m in awe at her ability to freestyle a design, how steady her hand was and at the intricacy of the pattern.
Realising that my hair would start to grow back following the end of my chemo treatment, I decided to embrace the baldness and went as far as to commission a design for a second henna crown! I drew on my Kiwi heritage and Bindya incorporated the koru mangopare, a symbol of new beginnings and strength into the second design. Once again her talent and skill blew me, and my mother, away.
Hair growing back again
Slowly my hair started to grow back even though my treatment hadn’t finished. I’m not sure if having my head shaved twice during treatment helped it grow back evenly, but thankfully I didn’t have any patchy checker board regrowth. I grew a very thin dusting of grey fuzz on top of my head. I decided to forgo using any turbans or scarves again and braved it out. Gradually the dusting thickened out to an unmistakable crop of grey hair. I’d gone from a blonde bob to… grey, not just grey roots but full on grey. Despite the chemo, my hair returned just as thick as ever. Now I was left with the decision, to grow it back into a bob – a grey bob, or dye the heck out of it and make it a blonde bob again. Or, should I embrace the new grey pixie crop and make this part of my new normal? I decided to embrace the latter and now, at the age of 42, I’m buying purple ’silver fox’ conditioner!