Losing my hair to chemotherapy was one of the biggest things I worried about (aside from maybe getting my port). Hair is just such a big part of my identity and I couldn’t imagine not having it the way I wanted. I tried to make the most of it (see my video trying some short ‘dos before I lost it). I’ll admit that it was a bit shocking seeing myself bald for the first time. But then it just wasn’t a big deal and life moved on.
I tried to document my hair journey from chemo to growing it out. My last chemo session was October 28, 2020. I was completely bald. After the last cycle, I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes, both of which came back nicely. On Christmas day, just before I started these photos, I had little wisps of hair, but nothing substantial.
In January, my hair started to fill in. Those eyebrows are totally drawn on, but my eyelashes had already grown back.
I ditched my wig in February. It felt really weird going to work having my neck and ears exposed, but it was so nice not to wear an itchy, hot wig. I bought a ridiculous number of headbands and started sporting them every day.
By March, I basically had the exact same hair as my younger brother.
It’s slowly starting to grow out and fill in.
Looking at the photos, it doesn’t feel like it was growing very fast. Ha! But in real time it felt like it was changing all the time. And I often received comments from family and co-workers that it seemed to be growing really fast.
By June I was starting to see a lot more wave and body in my hair. You can see here that the curls were just starting.
Lots of wave in my hair in July. I was also starting to feel a bit more confident about it, even though it was still quite short.
In August I attended a birthday party. It was an opportunity to get all dolled up. I decided to sport my fascinator, and I had just enough hair to do it. I think this was one of the first times I felt pretty with my short hair.
We’re getting really curly now in September. By this time I was using special curly-hair shampoo and conditioner. And I have curly styling cream (though I was using that much earlier).
October is a goofy look, but now the curls were really developing, which it what I was trying to highlight. Speaking of highlights, my hair is just naturally these colors. There was no way I was going to color my hair, and possibly damage it, when it was this short.
Was my hair always curly? It was when I was very little. But as I got older, it straightened out a bit. Before chemo, I still had plenty of body, but I tamed it with my hot tools. So the curl was nothing like this.
This photo featured on my Christmas card. I posted the January photo with the caption, “how it started.” I then had the December photo captioned, “how it’s going.”
This was a year from the first photo. If my hair was straight, it was almost to my shoulders at this point (which I found a bit frustrating). The bangs are quite a bit shorter though.
I’m starting to not hate the curls. They look better the longer they get. And if it stays this curly as it grows, I think it’ll be amazing when it’s actually long.
And here we are currently. It’s starting to lay better and it’s growing down, instead of out. The curls actually look really good after they’re freshly washed. To be honest, it’s not a very hard hairstyle to manage. I wash it every other night, rinsing it on the other nights. I put in my styling cream while it’s wet. Sleep on it. More styling cream in the morning.
I have yet to let anyone cut it. And I’ve only used a straightener on it once. Occasionally I would blow it out just to see how long it was. But other than that, it was all natural. I think I’m about ready for my first hair cut.
So that’s what happens when you grow your hair out after chemo!