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Patchy hair regrowth after finishing chemo

judyallene
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2009

I finished my last chemo treatment on May 28th and my hair is growing in very slowly! It is growing in patches all over my head. I have bald spots in various places on about 50% of my head. Mainly top sides and lower back. Has anyone else experienced this? I would love to start going withoout my wig or scarves but I look like a baby chick with mange! Please let me know how unusaual this is? I'm new to blogging so I hope this gets posted correctly.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I stopped wearing a wig as soon as it got hot here this summer, but my hair is still very thin especially on top front. I had my last chemo March 28th, so you are couple of months behind me. I sometimes wear a headband (an idea I got from seeing a bald-ish baby girl with one on!) and that covers up the worst 'bald' spots. I have some 'finishing wax' and 'finishing glue' that I got at the hairdresser to spike up my hair and I just kind of spike it up on top, and rake it back a little with my fingers on the sides and then push it up at the neckline to fluff up the back. It's not a great hairdo, but after being totally bald for 7 months, it's not too bad. And I think in a month that I will be able to 'comb over' the really thin spots until they grow in better.

kayandok
Posts: 1223
Joined: Jun 2008

I think that is pretty normal. I didn't have any bald spots but my hair grew in pretty sparse at first. A soon as I had enough fuzz. I had it colored. But, this time I just let it stay the white/grey that it is. I am getting used to it, and after 20 something years of coloring, I feel so free!!
Hang in there, in a few months it will look pretty good!
kathleen:)

BonnieR's picture
BonnieR
Posts: 1549
Joined: Jan 2004

I know some people's hair grow back patchy, just trim the longer stuff as the shorter or bald stuff catches up. I always try to make a do for me as it grows. Remember that is only 3 months and it takes your body awhile to get rid of the chemo and your cells to get back to normal. Hugs Bonnie

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judyallene
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2009

I began to realize that I'm not the only one to have this problem so I shaved it all off again! I will keep it shaved until the other bald spots start showing some signs of new growth. There was just too many bald spots on the sides, top and back to be able to do any kind of styling and I'd rather be bald than look like 'Bozo the Clown"! I guess I'm just one the unlucky ones when it comes to hair regrowth. I had straight fine hair before the Chemo, but at least I had a lot of it! I'll just have to wait and see what the next months bring. I'm actually even going out in public on occasion bald. I can do that easier than with hairy and bald patches all over my head.
Thank you so much for the replies! I was beginning to think I was never going to get it back!
I'll try to develop my patience some more. I was just so hoping that it wouldn't take so long! God bless all of you. You'll be in my prayers as well.

BonnieR's picture
BonnieR
Posts: 1549
Joined: Jan 2004

I do the same..bald is beautiful!! :-)

Mawty's picture
Mawty
Posts: 137
Joined: Sep 2009

I was going back through some old posts and found this! I had just shaved my head again because my hair has been growing in so patchy! I thought it was the Femara, but maybe it still is the chemo. I've been off chemo since June. I'm going to keep shaving though until it comes in good--man, I hope it comes in good! I've also lost my eyelashes again, and I'm assuming it's the Femara.

Marty

Susan523's picture
Susan523
Posts: 235
Joined: Oct 2007

Hello, Judy & all,

This post is a little late, but I do want to share with you that Biotin may help your hair to grow faster. You may want to ask your Dr. to make sure it's okay; mine said it was.

I hope you've got some good growth since your last post here. Mine came back thick & curly;
but it's gone again now. I've finished 3 of 6 treatments this time around.

Take care,
~Susan xoxo

saundra's picture
saundra
Posts: 1390
Joined: Mar 2007

Sometimes we have to start all over. I had thin on the crown when mine grew back while on Femara (antiestrogen). Now I am back on carbo and decided to see what would happen. It thinned on top too but I have not shaved it yet after 4 doses. Everyone is different in the return of the hair, it seems. I was curly to start and it came back curly. I do use a volume enhancer get to make it look thicker and cover the thin spots better. Saundra

livenow09's picture
livenow09
Posts: 63
Joined: Apr 2009

Aloha All (see another UPSC sista Linda on this site)
what a relief to read your "hair" stories; I thought I was the only one (leave it to me to be DIFFERENT) who had sparse hair regrowth; it's been one year since my last chemo and the hair on top is just so thin, I can see my scalp; tried the Biotin 8000 mcg for several months and it didn't help; also using a Volumnizer (sp); when I see old photos of my hair I could just spit; I tell myself I'm alive so quit your bitchin"

love you all
Marie (from the Uterine cancer boards)

Mawty's picture
Mawty
Posts: 137
Joined: Sep 2009

Man, isn't it nice to have this place to come to where we can find out we're not the only ones with one thing or another -- like patchy hair growth. We'll all sitting out here thinking it's just us! It's a blessing to have you other ladies to hear from. Thank you.

Marty

CanadianGirl58
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2017

I'm not absolutely sure how this 'reply' works - i.e. whether you Judyallene will get this message... I finished chemo July 4th and while some hair is growing back, the top and crown is sparse, sparse, sparse.  I had docetaxel in chemo which I believe is very hard on hair.

Did your hair grow back in those spots?

Very depressed at the moment.

camella's picture
camella
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2017

My hair is crazy! The entire top of my head hairs gaps and the back has a line of black in it almost like I put it there. I actually liked being bald better than this.

Last chemo was March.

 

i believe I'm going to hair it clipped close and wait for better hair regrowth.

LorettaMarshall's picture
LorettaMarshall
Posts: 691
Joined: Sep 2012

rWell Hello “CanadianGirl58”

Wish all the entries here were as easy as yours to reply to.  Now I truly hope that you are only depressed about losing your hair.  I hope that is only temporary.  “Me thinks” you are “rushing” the hair growth just a wee bit since you only finished chemo on July 4th. Wink Thank God for July 4th.  We can celebrate the fact that we are still a free country, and that we’re both are still alive.  “I know—I know” it’s depressing to look in the mirror and have a good enough memory to know what you once looked like.  But hey, while chemo can kill tumors, it also destroys hair follicles.  Now I finished my last chemo January 19, 2017 (Carboplatin/Taxol) and my hair is no more than 3 ½ inches long (and that is “stretching it.”)  And believe it or not, except for the extreme lingering fatigue, because I still have cancer, many days I actually could actually forget I had cancer until I look in the mirror, and see that I no longer have those “lovely locks” that once adorned my head!  But that’s the price we pay for stayin’ alive.  So if hair loss is your greatest cause of depression, cheer up I say.  If the chemo has reduced your tumor count, or eradicated it altogether, then rejoice. 

Now as to who might answer your post on this forum topic, it may not be JudyAllene since she hasn’t posted anything since September 23, 2009.  Now Camella last posted on May 25, 2017.  In fact many on here have obviously lost their hair since I see that 8,255 people have read what has been written on this “topic line.” 

To put things in perspective, we always have to compare our losses against our gains, and I know that you value a “cancer reduction or elimination” entirely more than you value “hair retention.”  Yes the first time I started brushing my hair and “clumps” were in the brush, it was disappointing.  That started by the end of Week 2.  And no, none of us are as “pretty” as we fancy ourselves to be when we are “bald”!  Having now had 3 different regimens of chemotherapy (6 sessions each), for “round one” I went to the Beauty Shoppe and had my head shaved.  I tried “salvaging the straggly thin strands” but soon realized that was an exercise in futility.  So for “round 2” I didn’t try to “salvage” anything.  I went straight to the hairdresser and had it shaved “clean!”  And by “round 3” I picked up my handy hair clipping set (I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for 55 years!) and together we zipped it all off pronto. Emotions didn’t matter—I knew what was coming!  Frankly, a bigger problem to ponder is the loss of one’s teeth.  I’ve known more than one cancer patient who suffered mouth problems and loss of teeth, so I’ll settle for having my hair fall out instead of my teeth—seriously!

When I was young, vivacious, curvaceous, gorgeous and all those other superlatives we fancy ourselves to be (or wanna be) lovely hair was high on the list of “must haves”.  Youthful fantasies are memories still, but now many of us are living with a total different reality—just “staying ahead of the cancer that would like to conquer us.”  So when I put my priorities on a scale from one to ten, I don’t even have a spot for hair.  After all, many women my age normally have very thin hair anyway.  Perhaps you haven’t gotten there yet.  But at 78, most of us can say “goodbye” to mini-skirts-spike heels and swishy tails!”  But we are far wiser than we once were, and at this age wisdom for me involves love of the Lord, my family and friends, appreciation for my doctors, and thankfulness for what I still have, rather than what I have lost.  

I often say we make our biggest decisions in life when we are “least qualified” to make them.  When we walked happily down the aisle, stood before the preacher and repeated those vows, which was now 55 years ago, they included “…in sickness or in health, till death do us part…”, little did we imagine that a cancer diagnosis day might well come sooner or later!  And when I look in the mirror, I say, “Whoa who is this?”  Surprised I laughingly accuse my husband of sneaking in a “circus mirror” when I wasn’t looking and hanging it full length on the bathroom door!  Now the big boobs once so cherished are still there, but they’re no longer in the same place.  Cry Thank God for belts and elastic waist bands, and 3-piece outfits that disguise what’s really underneath.  Smile After all, man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart.  So at this age, I’m more concerned with what God sees than what man sees.  My husband and I are still in love, and he’s a bit “worse for wear” as well.  We’ve both aged gracefully, I say.  But we’re happy to have each other, warts, wrinkles, worries, and all!  He's a 15-year Esophageal Cancer Survivor, and that's a miracle! 

So give yourself a bit more time.  When you were first born, you probably didn’t have as much hair as you did when you were two, did you?  Give your body time to regroup and recoup, and in due time I bet you’ll look good as new. Kiss

Loretta (not so young anymore but happy to be alive)

Peritoneal Carcinomatosis/Ovarian Cancer Stage IV

  • ·         DX November 2012
  • ·         Chemo combo – Carboplatin/Paclitaxel (Taxol) - 2013
  • ·         Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS) -  July 1, 2013
  • ·         Cyberknife Radiation  for 3 cancerous nodes on Caudate lobe of Liver - 2014
  • ·         Chemo Combo #2 - 2015
  • ·         Chemo Combo #3 - 2016
  • ·         Tumor markers rising – new node on Caudate lobe of Liver – Fluid around lungs
  • ·         Much in prayer about going for Chemo Combo #4 or Immunotherapy Clinical Trial – Still have a good quality of life and both my medical oncologist & my radiation oncologist think I should strongly consider another round of treatments, but it’s all up to me.  That’s where you find me today.  By the way, this picture is recent.  I'm wearing "false bangs" and a turban.  I find that more comfortable than a wig.  

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  1. http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/docetaxel.aspx

“…The side effects of docetaxel and their severity depend on how much of the drug is given.  In other words, high doses may produce more severe side effects).

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking docetaxel:

  • Low white blood cell count.  (This can increase your risk for infection)
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)

Nadir: Meaning low point, nadir is the point in time between chemotherapy cycles in which you experience low blood counts.

Onset: 4-7 days
Nadir: 5-9 days
Recovery: 21 days

  • Fluid retention with weight gain, swelling of the ankles or abdominal area.
  • Peripheral neuropathy (numbness in your fingers and toes) may occur with repeated doses. This should be reported to your healthcare provider.
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth sores
  • HAIR LOSS
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Infection
  • Nail changes (Color changes to your fingernails or toenails may occur while taking docetaxel. In extreme, but rare, cases nails may fall off. After you have finished docetaxel treatments, your nails will generally grow back) (see skin problems).

These side effects are less common, meaning they occur in 10-29 percent of patients receiving docetaxel:

  • Vomiting
  • Muscle/bone/joint pain (myalgias and arthralgias)
  • Low platelet count (This can increase your risk of bleeding)
  • Increases in blood tests measuring liver function.  These return to normal once treatment is discontinued. (see liver problems)

Infusion-related side effects (symptoms which may occur during the actual treatment) include:

  • Allergic reactions (rash, flushing, fever, lowered blood pressure).  Happens rarely, usually occurs in the first or second infusion.  Frequency is reduced by premedication with corticosteroid starting one day before infusion.  You will be monitored closely during the infusion for any signs of allergic reaction.
  • Infusion site reactions (uncommon and generally mild, consist of darkening of the vein, inflammation, redness or dryness of the skin, or swelling of the vein).

Not all side effects are listed above, some that are rare (occurring in less than 10% of patients) are not listed here.  However, you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms…”

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