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Hair????

cbs6931's picture
cbs6931
Posts: 63
Joined: Mar 2010

So here's the hair question.... I was told my hair MIGHT thin some. As of today it is "thinning" in droves. What has everyone else experienced as far as hair? Did the thinning eventually stop. (Cut it prior to chemo from past my sholders to collar length. have one week of chemo and two of radiation behind me...)

Thanks in advance,

Cathy

JDuke's picture
JDuke
Posts: 443
Joined: Nov 2009

if yours is thinning like mine did, I know you think it won't be long before there is none left. When my started thinning, about week three, I felt the same. I immediately went and spent a ridiculous amount of money on two wigs and got my hair cut the shortest it had been in forty years. Looking back I realize it was a little extreme. Yes it was thinner, (I have fine hair to start with) but I certainly could have left some length. It seemed to thin the most in the crown area of the back. Go figure. Wore the wig once. All of this to say, just take it a day at the time. The good news is that the new hair came back in thicker and had more wave. Wishing you the best. Hope your treatment speeds by for you and that soon this is just a memory.
Joanne

gladteacher
Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2010

HI Cathy,
Your hair looks a lot like mine in the old days. I had treatment in Dec. and Jan. for 2nd stage anal cancer. I shaved my hair completely. My hair was past shoulder length and so beautifully red. I dye it of course since I am almost 59. It started coming out in strands, and it was very liberating to have no hair. I hate wigs, but have two from Paula Young wig company. My hair is extrememly curly (it looks like pubic hair) on the sides and straight on the top and by my neck. My hair is also white with grey and looks so strange. I hope it gets thicker, because at one time it was really thick. I want to start dating again, but am worried about it. I still have pain in the vaginal area as well as the anal area, and how do you explain to a new boyfriend about loss of control with BM's? I still get depressed but being April 14, it has not been three months since the end of treatments. I consider myself very fortunate because I have lupus and the healing could have taken much longer. When can we go back to the gym? When can I go back to work? I teach part time and with my blood counts still coming back I am nervous about catching a bug. My white cell count was 4.8 which my oncologist thought was good. I have dropped thirty pounds and like the new me. I am still overweight but with eating/digestive problems I feel the weight will continue to come off. I am an upbeat person, but am so tired of the wait for the pain to subside and get back to "normal"/ I feel this is the new normal. Thanks for listening. I would love to hear from others that doubted if their hair would come back. Gladteacher (My name is Gladie)

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2888
Joined: Jan 2010

I hope you will not get discouraged about the problems with your BM's and the vaginal and anal pain. You are only 3 months out of treatment and it can take awhile for everything to return to normal. I am 19 months out of treatment and feel just as good or better than I did prior to my diagnosis. Did your rad onc recommend using a vaginal dilator? This is very important for opening the vagina back up and must be used on a regular and frequent basis. As for when you can get back to the gym, I would say you are ready! Of course, building back up to prior levels of fitness will take place gradually, but just be patient with yourself and it will come back. I began running on my treadmill 10 days after my treatment ended and have been running ever since, with only some time off for a muscle injury, and am training for a 5K race on May 1st. I hope that will give you some encouragement! The digestive problems are most likely related to a combination of damage that has been done to your intestinal tract and food choices. I was very anxious to begin eating healthy things like fruits and veggies right after treatment ended, only to find out that my guts couldn't handle it. Introducing things back into your diet gradually and keeping track of what you eat and what problems you have afterwards is the only way to dial in on the foods that you can tolerate. I can eat most anything these days, but spicy foods tends to cause anal burning with BM's. As for the hair, it will come back. Mine thinned quite a lot and was almost bare in places, but now I have a full head of hair. My hair has always been very fine and looked quite bad for about the first 9 months, but after that, it began to look just like it used to. Again, please don't be discouraged. We have to remember that our bodies really take a toll with this brutal treatment and patience is key. I wish you the very best--take care.

gladteacher
Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2010

Thank you for your support. I never was very patient, but seeing my family next Tuesday, which I am grateful for. I am glad to be alive, and will start working out. I only go onto this website a couple days per week, but do enjoy it. THank you! Glad

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2888
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Cathy--

My hair started falling out on day 21. It got really thin, but I didn't lose it all, I just had some noticeable thin spots. Luckily, I had it cut short prior to treatment, so it didn't look so mangy. I got by wearing a ball cap. It took about 9 months for it all to fill back in. To minimize the damage to your hair, do not wash it every day or use a blow dryer on it. Also, a shampoo containing biotin will help keep your hair strong. I found one made by Jason at GNC stores which also comes with a conditioner. I thought it was a very good product.

Martha

z810840b's picture
z810840b
Posts: 212
Joined: Jan 2010

hi cathy..I have thick hair and it did get thinner,but no one noticed....just me.The texture definitley changed ...kind of dead looking.Six months after treatment my hair was much improved.Now 19 months after treatment, my hair is thick and shiny again.....alyse

z's picture
z
Posts: 1249
Joined: May 2009

Hi Cathy,

Yes my hair was down to the middle of my back, and I began losing lots of hair, my hair was thick. It did basically thin out, and I never lost all of it. I went ahead and cut it to my shoulders. I always wanted to try a short hair cut, but not this way. I am 9 months post tx, and it is back as thick as it ever was. I wish you well. Lori

lemonade
Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2010

My hair was shoulder length before I started treatment. My doctor told me I might experience thinning. I had really thick hair. It is frustrating because you don't know how much thinning. When it started thinning around week 3, it was coming out a lot. So I cut it into a bob. It kept coming out and I cut it again to chin length. I think I cut my hair 4 times before treatment ended. I was afraid all of it was going to fall out, which it never did. I hated washing my hair and blobs of hair would come out all over my hands. I finished treatment in October 2009. So 6 months later I have my hair cut in that short spiky cut, which actually looks kind of cute and it sure is easy to fix. It seems like it is finally growing back in now. I can tell it feels thicker at the roots where the new hair is coming in. My hair looked "dead" also. It looked dusty and flat with no shine at all. It is finally looking better. I also found out what color my hair is. I have been coloring it for years. Suprise - It had a lot of gray. I waited for 3 months to start coloring it again. I was afraid the rest of it might fall out with the chemicals from the hair color. This is something that is distressing because it is a constant reminder that I have cancer. There are so many things that the doctors don't really think are that important, because they are trying to save our lives. It is just one more thing to be aggravated about.

Another thing that I have noticed post treatment is my pants don't fit the same anymore. I think my glutes and thigh muscles shrunk up from the radiation. I did lose 16 pounds and have kept off 10. My body shape has changed though. There are a lot of hidden expenses to this disease - new wardrobe, hair cuts and color, all of the Rx's, creams, yoga tapes, etc. I certainly was not anticipating my favorite pair of jeans not fitting anymore.

Back to the hair though - To cut or not to cut, that is the question. I think I am glad I cut it. What remained after the treatment was damaged and looked so flat and dry. You could certainly keep it longer and let grow back in though. It is a process, like everything else.

Barbara

cbs6931's picture
cbs6931
Posts: 63
Joined: Mar 2010

Really appreciate all the info - Barbara thanks for mentioning your clothes fitting differently - now I know to watch out for that. Amazing how many things occur that you don't expect.

Thanks again to all,

Cathy

pege1
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi,

I was told my hair would probably just thin. I lost it all, by the end of my treatments. I had a few strands on top and you could see thru to my scalp. I ended up having it buzzed and it was the best thing i did. Instead of seeing scalp I had peach fuzz. For about a month I wore scarve or hats but as soon as the peach fuzz was evened out I stopped wearing them.

lizdeli's picture
lizdeli
Posts: 521
Joined: Jul 2009

I was told it might thin a little but that I wouldn't lose it. That surprised me. But the oncologist was right. I didn't lose it. It thinned in one small spot and I am the only one who noticed it. But it get get bland and dry. I waited a few months got me some highlights and a good cut and now it grows like weeds! I had Cisplatin instead of Mitomycin and that might be the reason I didn't lose it.

My nails on the other hand...they got terrible. I always had strong healthy nails. But they got very thin and cracked and chipped if you looked at them the wrong way! They are now just getting back to normal. Growing again and looking and feeling stronger. 6 months post treatment.

Liz

cbs6931's picture
cbs6931
Posts: 63
Joined: Mar 2010

Well - mine is all gone. Its been coming out in droves all week and I had so little left today I got my 17 year old son to take his beard trimmer to it. It was worth loosing the hair just to hear him laugh so loud. The darn thing lost its charge half way through and he took the rest off with sissors so it looks like a goat chewed it. (Thank goodness its blond - if it were dark it would be even more hideous.) He's going to have to finish as soon as the trimmer recharges... I never thought I'd be glad it was gone, but I am - I got so sick of it coming out in clumps and constantly being all over me... I'm glad most everyone has not lost all their hair like I did, looks like there were two of us so far. I think possibly I got hit hard because my hair grows so fast, at least an inch a month, and the chemo attacks fast growing cells, maybe folks with hair that grows slower noticed less impact. (My hair is baby fine but I have a ton of it.) Anyway thanks to everyone!

Cathy

z's picture
z
Posts: 1249
Joined: May 2009

Cathy,

I think what you said makes sense, that the chemo goes after fast growing cells, and your hair may grow very fast and thats why it effected your hair that way. I'm glad your son got a good laugh out of it, thats all you can do. It will come back. As I said before my hair thinned a lot, but has since come back, 9 months post tx. It is thick. I wish you well. Lori

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2888
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry that you happened to be one of the few whose hair completely fell out, but I love your attitude and the ability to find light in the situation. I really didn't stress about my hair too much. I figured there was nothing I could do to stop it if it decide to go, so I just focused on the things I had control over. The good news is hair grows back and hopefully, cancer cells won't when this is all over! I wish you the very best!

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2888
Joined: Jan 2010

One additional thought. One thing that happened to me before cancer--we went to Key West on vacation and while shopping, I was really drawn to a pink ballcap for some reason and bought it. When I got home, I put it in the closet and kind of forgot about it. Fastforward 10 months later. When my hair started to come out, it became the most important thing in my wardrobe and I realized that the pink cap had called to me for a reason. Get yourself the brightest and most beautiful one you can find and wear it with pride!

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8069
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Cathy,

I'm not usually on boards other than the H&N (I had tonsil cancer). But I went through the Chemo and Chemo/Radiation also. Sixteen weeks of Chemo and seven weeks of concurrent chemo/radiation (thirty five) doses of radiation to the throat and neck area. I eventually lost most of my hair, nearly everywhere on my body. Like many on here, when I started to lose it on my head, I just got a buzz cut (a fuzzy flat top). As I was in the Marines for several years I wear it pretty short anyways.

Anyways, I'm nearly ten months out of treatment and have all of my hair back. It was slow going on the back of my neck from the radiation more than the chemo though. It has just started filling in that inch or so in the back that hadn't been growing for awhile.

I'm sure that you will get yours back, it will just take a little time.

Good Luck and God Bless,
John

roxie_24fan
Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2009

I did not loose my hair during treatment, but I was all prepared to. I didnt realize that not all chemo drugs cause hair loss. I had been thinking of creative ways to cover my ugly bald head. I was kinda disapointed when it didnt come out. Now, when I go for check ups and see those who have no hair, I feel stupid for even worring about my hair how. I now keep it very short and no fuss. My life and time is to important to worry about how my hair looks now. Just happy to be breathing in and out.

susan1069
Posts: 30
Joined: Mar 2010

It's amazing how differently everyone responds to the chemo. My onc told me I wouldn't lose my hair, then at the 3 week point it started coming out in handfuls and I was horrified. I'm finished with treatment now, as of yesterday, and it's still thinning every day. So, I'm not sure when that will stop or what I'll be left with in the end. So far, it's just thin and lifeless and only noticeable to those who knew what my hair looked like before. But, if it continues much longer, I'll def. be left with some bald spots. It seems to be thinnest at the crown and I was thinking about getting a "fall" instead of a full wig, just to thicken up the look of the hair on top and in the back.

Does anyone remember when their hair stopped coming out after treatment? I'd love to know when this will stop.

winnipeg
Posts: 24
Joined: Apr 2010

My hair fell on Taxol and stayed gone for a year. If you study Paula Young catalog carefully, there are a few cute wigs for younger ladies. I had the MacKenzie I think! A tousled shaggy bob. It was great never having to worry about my hair, and my real hair was past its sell by date anyway.

W

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

I don't exactly remember when it stopped falling out. My treatments ended in early March and by June, I was admiring the beginning of the curls- curls- nice wavy ones. I loved them! But, now, two years later, my hair is back to normal. That happened about a year or a bit more after I first got them.
I do know that I never lost all my hair - just most of it. My chemo was 5-FU and mitomycin.

sissy310
Posts: 300
Joined: May 2010

I was glad I came in here to read this. I should be starting treatment in a few weeks, I'm only in the beginning parts of scanning and tests and such but I want to know as much as I can to prepare myself. I was glad I read about everyone's experiences with their hair loss and/or thinning. My first instinct was to go and get my hair cut super short (which I've never done). Maybe now I will wait a bit. I too dye my hair (I'm 62) but I'm thinking with all these changes that will be going on with my body and hair and some other issues, I may let it go gray and do something different with it when this is all over. Know I appreciate everyone's input and words of personal experience and know that you are all in my prayers every day. I'm glad I found this group. Marilyne

sandra malone
Posts: 31
Joined: Apr 2010

I am 49 yrs old and in remmission from rectal cancer. I DID NOT lose any of my hair from my head. I did go completely bald in the genital area (due to the Radiation), A blessing really. so much easier to keep clean etc..it is growing back slowly. Even the hair on my legs became sparse, but, it had no problem returning in full force.HA-HA. Although I am further along in the process than you are, I am available to you 27/7 via telecommunications. My phone is 7709053773. I live in Atlanta. Please reply, keep me up to date, etc. There are no foolish or unimportant questions when it comes to cancer, so I may be able to help support you in those times.

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

Hi, Sandra,
I, too, no longer have much pubic hair and now, 2 1/4 years past end of treatment, there is no sign it is returning. Sparse leg hair came with menopause as far as I can tell - or rather it moved to my chin. :)

What I want to ask you is about having "rectal cancer". Was it squamous cell carcinoma? That was my original diagnosis and the info I could find back then (Jan. 2008) was that only about 200 such cases had EVER been recorded. Suddenly, my case morphed into "anal cancer" and treated as such. My tumor spanned the dentate line and was mostly in the rectum. Is this like your story?

Priscilla

sandra malone
Posts: 31
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi. Yes I was originally dx with squamous cell carcinoma." Drs term" i beleieve all rectal is diagnosed that type DEPENDING on what stage you are in. Mine was stage 1, 1.5 inches in the anal/rectal canal. (there are4 inches) between the anal opening and the colon. (WEB MD).So I was fortunate. Ive been in remisssion for5 months. I continue to have bladder and stool leakage, must wear a pad daily. My menopause came before the cancer , but yes some of my hair went to my upper lip.Funnny huh? Did I answer your ?. If not ask again. Chemo brain along with meds makes me sometimes forgetful. Either way, I'd love to keep our line of communication open.

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

They never gave me a "stage" in the beginning. And after the GI guy said it was rectal, the tumor board said it was anal.... I panicked at the time because I felt no one was clear with me about the final diagnosis and the damn doc set my appointment with him for AFTER they wanted to start the chemo. I wanted to feel certain they were going to give me the "right stuff". Thanks to ACS and one great oncology nurse, I got rescheduled with the doc to BEFORE the chemo and ACS called me back and told me what the difference in tx would be between "rectal" and "anal" squamous cell carcinoma. I guess I still really resent the lack of communication with me!! I do think I got the right treatment at this point and I am NED for two years now.... Bowel and vaginal issues continue - considerably better than I was 5 months post as you are, by the way. And now I am wondering about aching hips... a problem which developed for me about a year after treatment.

Glad you joined... I no longer think I experience chemo brain.... just an aging brain!!! I am thinking I might start a thread on early diagnosis experience. Thoughts?

Chris3
Posts: 53
Joined: Mar 2010

Hi Marilyne,
I did not lose all my hair. It just got really thin on top. My hair was somewhat short before treatment, but I had it trimmed up a bit shorter just before starting treatment. I tried on wigs but didn't like the feel. So, I bought a Beau Beau hair scarf just in case, but I never wore it either. A good friend bought me a baseball cap with the logo of a favorite rock band, and I have worn that on several occasions. But, mostly I just went about with my thinning hair.

My Chemo was in Week 1 & Week 5, and the hair thinning occurred in Weeks 5 & 8.

Best wishes on your upcoming treatment.

Chris

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