Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

24 Aug 2019

Chemo hair and other such tips

A huge thanks for your continued votes in the Amara IBA awards - (https://www.interiorblogawards.com/best-use-of-photography-blog-2019/janice-issitt-life-style/) best use of photography.  It's blog posts like this where I have to blend photos that don't illustrate the words, and visa versa ... I am therefore very pleased that during my current situation of fighting cancer, I can still be nominated in the 'Interior Blog Awards' with the photos that are giving me pleasure to take. 



I'm struggling to move around, my arms aren't working, the chemo side effects are doing their thing and setting up a room shot is really hard, so taking some fine art style flower portraits can at least help me keep my hand in and give me some personal joy when I'm unable to do room styling. 

I'm sorry that I've felt the need to share on instagram some bad experiences I've been having at the hospital. I have to be honest, and if my truth helps anyone to feel less alone, more prepared and better informed then it's job done. I've never wanted to be put in the situation where I have to talk about our precious NHS in a bad light, but you need to be prepared for your treatment to maybe not go smoothly, maybe not be well organised, maybe add to your stress and discomfort and for mistakes to be made.  



When you are spending every moment of every day for over a year (or more)dealing with the pain and discomfort of the cure, the constant 'opinions' of non professional others who think that eating this and not eating that will make a difference (therefore guilt tripping you into thinking that this is your fault for eating chocolate)  ... you feel under attack all the time. I really don't understand why complete strangers feel the need to say some bullshit about what you should and shouldn't be doing with your body, particularly eating, when it's a daily struggle to find something that doesn't make you feel queezy, that tastes vaguely like it should, that staves off the steroid hunger pains and so on. 

So apart from this being a place to vent my opinions, I also want to share my experience of the cold cap and how I've been trying to hang on to some hair, and here again, I really don't want to illustrate that with photos of my head, so if you aren't interested in the cancer then perhaps just look at the pictures as a separate entity ...




Let's talk about the hair loss progression during chemotherapy. For the first (heavy duty) four rounds I really didn't loose very much hair at all, but towards the fourth round I did see some shedding but overall it didn't look too different. I limit the amount of times I wash it to maybe once a week as more hair does seem to come out when it's wet and trying to get the tangles out. I switched to very very mild shampoos (Burt's Bees do a nice one) and very intensive conditioners to stop it tangling (I tried Coco and Eve) and most recently I found a hairbrush (made by Manta) that was designed by a guy whose wife was having chemo. The hairbrush is available on Amazon and I think it's very good, I wish I'd had it from the start.

I stopped using permanent dye on my hair and switched to a wash-in one from Superdrug just to tone down the new growth and after a few months I trimmed a few inches off the ends so it doesn't tangle so much. 

Weirdly the big hair loss seemed to come immediately after my operation, I have no idea why then. Now my hair is about half it's thickness and very fine like baby hair, it's very fly-away and I'm trying to find something to deal with that, nothing discovered thus far but I can keep this updated if I find something great. Annoying that I used to have a spray which now seems to be discontinued. 

Whether my new soft fine thin hair is because I stopped using permanent dye, stopped using a hair dryer, or because its the result of the chemo on the hair follicle I'm not sure, maybe several contributing factors.  I don't have any completely bald patches so the Paxman Cold Cap has at least left me with a fine even coverage that is no worse that just baby hair. Having this thinner type of hair is better than no hair at all and where the choice is this or be bald, I'm going to be thankful for small mercies. 




As I only now have one more chemo to go I've bought some shampoos and conditioners that boost hair growth and see if these do anything at all. My head doesn't feel like my own, it's a very strange sensation. I wonder if these thickening shampoos will work, I can but try, although I hope they don't have the opposite effect and make it fall out more. I try not to rub it at all and I've also bought a silk cap to wear in bed at night. A few people I know said the silk cap stops your pillow rubbing your head, so while I look like some dreadful old victorian granny, I'm prepared to try pretty much anything, even eating walnuts while wearing a night cap apparently. Attractive not !

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these hard times x

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