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A Love-hate Relationship With My Hair

My name is Theresa and I'm 30-years-old and live in Elgin, Illinois, which is a west suburb of Chicago. In July of 2017, at age 29, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

During an oncologist appointment, the doctor told me I will be started on chemo and that I might lose my hair. He asked if that was going to be a big issue for me. I was not upset about the possibility of hair loss because my whole life I had my mother thinning my hair. My hair was thick, often times unruly and increased the size of my head to the point I was unable to wear most hats because they hurt my head, or just did not look right.

My oncologist was surprised of my acceptance of hair lose. He stated I may lose my hair a few times. I answered, “I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. My hair loves being on my head and I hate brushing it." My oncologist got a very serious look and said, “Don’t ever say that."

After a few chemotherapy treatment, my hair started coming out where it was noticeable. I had my mother shave my head pretty close. I was accepting of the hair being gone, but I did not realize that other people may not be. I live in a townhome that has the mailboxes grouped together and was going out to get the mail from the mailbox. Thinking nothing of my shaved head, which happened the previous night. I was close to the mailbox, when I saw a neighbor, (you know the kind you wave to, but don’t really talk with), and he first waved, then physically pulled back, having a perplexed look -- like "who is this person and why am I waving?" I got my mail, went back inside my home and had to chuckle at the response of the neighbor.

Many people had told me that I would really miss my hair when it was gone. I have to say, I really did not miss it until winter time and I realized that I had a built in hat and scarf system with my hair. With a shaved head I was pulled into the world of head wear. I was able to wear knit hats and beanies of many different colors and styles. Beanies that were plain, beanies with messages, beanies with animals, beanies shaped like animals. I could be a panda one day and a rabbit the next. I was being gifted beanies and enjoying the bliss of being a beanie-wearing adult. I would look forward to going to stores for beanie/knit hats. This was a small look into a whole new world, where I could express myself through the headwear I had.

I even went to an event that helps you with makeup and wigs. I am not a wig person. I spoke with other people who really are happy that wigs are available, I just did not like the feel of them. I did buy some wigs online, more for play than to go out with them on.

Chemotherapy ended at the end of March 2018, and my hair started growing back. Hair does not grow back evenly, so I had my mom trim it up; big mistake at this point. After my hair trim, there was a cowlick. Great!

Now my hair is very short and sticks out on the right side of my head, nothing like bringing attention to my unruly, short, uncovered hair.

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