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Chemo Hair Loss With a Bit of Humour

My name is Jade and I’m 22-years-old and from Canada. I was diagnosed in April 2019 with stage 2AX Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I underwent 12 treatments of ABVD chemo and have been cancer free since September 2019.

I was diagnosed during the first week of April and began chemotherapy the week after. I was told all of the possible side effects I could get from ABVD. I was okay with most of them, except the hair loss. I was extremely scared and prayed it wouldn’t happen to me.

Hair loss has to be the most dreaded side effect of all cancer patients. After my first round of chemo I would wake up every morning expecting to find hair on my pillow, which didn’t happen for a while. I would have an appointment with my oncologist every two weeks on Tuesdays right before my chemo on Thursday. I think we all remember what our first appointment post-chemo was: we need to tell every single side effect we had so that our oncologist can do something to prevent them from happening again by either prescribing medication or giving you tips and tricks that can help. I had stomach aches, a bit of nausea and terrible (TERRIBLE) mouth sores. They were so bad that I would have trouble eating the first few days after treatment.

When my oncologist asked about my side effects I told him about how bad my mouth sores were and he replied: "Hopefully you don’t rip your hair out if they get too bad."

He immediately realized what he had just said and his face turned red in a matter of seconds. I started laughing so much and so did my mom. He felt so bad because he had just made a joke about me ripping my hair out when we all knew it was all going to fall out soon. I thought it was very funny.

He quickly said: "I’m so sorry you know that’s not what I meant."

To that I replied: "Oh I know but wow that is so funny" and I kept laughing. I never thought I would laugh about my upcoming hair loss but the way he said that without meaning it made me laugh.

When he noticed how funny my mom and I thought it was he laughed as well. Cancer scared me, so did chemo and hair loss but in that moment I felt like I forgot about it and had a good laugh I desperately needed.

I was a fairly new patient and barely knew my oncologist but I feel like that joke helped create a good patient/doctor relationship because ever since that day I am much more comfortable around him. When I left the hospital that day I just had to tell my friends about the joke. They all had different reactions from saying "That’s very funny" to "I can’t believe you laughed about it, you’re scared of losing your hair but i’m glad it made you laugh."

My oncologist and I both made a joke about it at my next appointment. Trust me, losing my hair was still one of the hardest thing I had to go through but being able to laugh about it before it happened made me feel at ease.

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