Tag Archives: Side Effects


FEC’D the trouble with Chemo Hair loss


is growing it back

Losing our hair during Chemo and Treatment such as Radiotherapy for any form of Cancer can obviously be an upsetting, even traumatic experience. FEC-D, otherwise known as FEC -T chemotherapy is now a common intervention for the treatment of Breast Cancer, and as far as I can tell hair loss is a given with this treatment. Our hair is part of our image, and our sense of self is certainly rocked from the moment of diagnosis, watching our self image reshape itself quite literally in the mirror as our hair disappears in front of our eyes only contributes to that experience. I guess I make (the probably invalid assumption) that men might struggle less with this, whilst a vast majority of women have spent years preening their hair before wheeling themselves out into public. It is a ritual we unintentionally allow to define us, hence a majority of my family and friends were at first most distressed by this prospect when they realised my fate.

Personally speaking, chemo induced baldness hasn’t rocked my world, and for that I consider myself lucky. I realise that I could not have guessed until it happened whether it would upset me or bother me (or not). I should own up here and point out that it does have it’s plus points. One of them is not least the ability to walk past people without them recognising me if I so choose. Even chemo has it’s perks ;-). However I was fairly sure from the outset that I wouldn’t mind. I entered the process fairly well armed with at least 8 newly purchased hats (and much like my repertoire of shoes, I’ve worn two of them!), I toned down my make up pallet as without the benefit of hair, it kind of takes the limelight, and of course needed to compliment the look with new handbags to boot! There’s no point in doing half a job right ? Ask anybody, the bags distract from the baldness 😉

When the time actually came, I had my favourite hairdressers shave it right off. Losing it by the chunk and facing patchiness wasn’t my gig. Once it started dropping out it had to go! I was glad I did it too, as it stopped the scalp pain I’d been experiencing as a consequence of follicles dying. 2 Birds with One Stone, that’s how I like to roll…

On the whole being bald has been ok, except even in this damp and wet UK climate it’s been too damn warm to wear those hats, so I just stroll around mostly baring all for the world to see, and don’t think twice about it most of the time. I even have ‘hair moments’. I forget sometimes that I have none! For instance when it rains, I have a moment of checking the downpour for an indication of how bad my hair will be for the rest of the day (the penny drops when I touch it). I still factor in time to do my hair when getting ready! This is possibly my biggest downfall yet, the moment I realise I don’t need to do my hair, I allocate less time to prepare myself to go out. I end up late…go figure.

All of that said, with an army of ‘support’ from the hospital via a Breast Care Nurse (who really does go the extra mile), nobody prepared me for hair regrowth! There are a lot of posts on the net documenting the speed at which it comes back. I was told it would return when I was a couple of months past Radiotherapy (still to come), but really it grows back between treatments if like me, you have hair which ordinarily grows thick and fast. So far it has come and gone. It grows, it drops back out, and when it does grow it is patchy. The outcome is I regularly wander around looking like a baby chicken, fresh yet sparse down springing out all over the place that nobody told me how to deal with. Dr Google has given me no information to this effect either, and so I spent some hours wondering if it means my chemo is failing to hit the rapid growing cells it’s meant to be zapping. This is only nearly as distressing as the dreaded loss of eyebrows and lashes which is occurring during the latter sessions of Chemo (yes its true, I don’t mind a bald head, but looking like a worm is a whole other concept in my world!) Most of my family now can’t imagine me with hair. They are so accustomed to me rocking around bald as a lollipop. In the meantime I’m stuck in limbo. The hair has to grow back – I don’t plan on rocking the Skunk Anansie look forever, yet somehow I find myself unarmed for how to get past this weird stage of strutting around with down ?

I live in the Uk, the prospect of a ‘Summer’ isn’t realistic. However we do still use the term to describe the more bearable months in terms of weather. That is, in chemo terms, the months that wearing a hat is uncomfortable. Throw in there those hot flashes across the head from time to time as follicle activity works out what it’s meant to be doing, and well, my own collection of headwear is doomed. Perhaps then the Oncologist didn’t quite coin his information how he intended ? My hair might well grow back sporadically beforehand, but I will be better equipped to deal with the regrowth after the treatment ends, in UK terms, that is winter, when we all want to hide beneath a hat!