Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why does your hair fall out?

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful meds that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body — including those healthy cells that control your hair among other things. Having your hair fall out post chemo is weird. For me, this is my second time around with hair loss. I’ve learned from previous experiences that you just have to shave it right away. If you don’t, the hair will accumulate on your pillow, on the couch, or in the sink or shower. Clumps fall onto your shirt or into your hand as you rub your fingers alongside your head. For most cancer survivors, it is an experience they will never forget. Just like remembering where you were on 9/11, or for older adults when the Challenger exploded, or for Meg when the Red Sox finally won the World Series – I remember in a split second the two times now my hair started falling out.

Even though I never really had much hair to begin with, it’s still sad when it happens. That sadness is not for vanity reasons, at least not for me. While I know it’s no big deal, as a cancer survivor your hair falling out still represents a moment in time that unhappiness wins. Unhappiness wins as a result of cancer having a physical presence in my life. On days you want to forget, it’s there to remind of the fight that lies ahead.

I’m lucky I have a decent shaped head that looks better than most other aging males. I'm lucky I found a wonderful woman that will still love me. I'm lucky that bald is the new look in Hollywood and I'm just another star waiting for my shot at the big screen.

There are few other perks of losing your hair! I won’t have to shave, worry about an embarrassing nose hair sticking out, or sweating profusely – all the guys know what I’m talking about, especially you Bill. Ok - tmi...


Brooke said...

Dan - thanks for making me smile :) I'm one of those "older adults" who remembers where I was when the Challenger exploded - in sixth grade math class - we watched the coverage on TV. I'm sorry to hear about the hair loss and can't imagine how odd it must feel. Well, hopefully it will be on to the next thing soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Dan,
Your descriptive narrative of this phase of losing your hair and the feelings that well up within you is powerfully effective in conveying another stage of "the cancer patient's experience"--uncomfortable, unsettling, oh, so painfully memorable, yet workable and doable as you make creative adjustments like shaving your head. You are a survivor and a warrior in the sense of fighting those nasty, debilitating cells. And when I read through your comments and envisioned your hair loss, I also envisioned the death of those cancel cells, the halting of their growth and spread. I will look at every strand of your hair loss as a victory in the death of another cancer cell--it's a sign of a win.
Keep winning, Dan.
much love, Paula

Anonymous said...

Danny, The first time you had no hair, I thought you looked handsome. You have always been good looking and still are. Your baldness changed my perspective about men. In the dating scene, I never careddc what color hair a man had but did want him to have hair on his head and not on his face. That all changed when you went bald. Good people are still good people - with or without hair. I never care if a guy is bald. When I see young folks that are bald, though, I alwsys wonder (and sometimes even ask) if they are bald by choice or have had chemotherapy. I realize it is a hip style for young guys these days. Love always, MOM

Anonymous said...

Don't let the unhappiness win! You're a really good looking bald guy. Smile, the Skins lost tonight :) Birds are still in the hunt. - Cara Murren

Carl said...

Of course, there's always the thought that the reason our hair falls out when receiving chemo is that the chemo is doing exactly what it's supposed to do: attack all the fast-growing cells in the body.

Some of them are cancer cells (yay!). Others are hair cells (boo!).

But, you can't have one without the other.

Hair grows back. Let's hope and pray cancer cells don't!



Hair Fall said...

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