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diagnosed with the big "C"

Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

Hi. I am new to this world of breast cancer. I am 34 years old. I found my lump myself and already had a yearly exam with my gyno scheduled. When I asked at my appointment he referred me to a cancer surgeon. She took and ultrasound in the office and said she didn't believe it was cancer. I had surgery to remove the lump and the pathology came back as stage 1 cancer. I was completely blown away. I then went for a mammogram and an MRI. I then had a second surgery to place my chemo port and have lumpectomy done and clean up the margins. I start chemo in a week and a half and I went ahead and got my wig this weekend. I thought it would have been a fun experience to be able to pick out a style and color. To my suprise it wasn't fun at all, in fact I ended up crying. My oncologist suggested shaving my head before my hair falls out because it is so long. He said with it shaved I have less chance of it clogging my drains and it's not as messy when it does fall out. I keep having an argument with myself trying to convince myself to shave my head and I can't bring myself to do it. I thought about waiting until it falls out naturally but then I have to face the public that I work with with a balding head. I thought if I do it this while I am still off from work recovering from my second surgery I can take this time to cry and get used to wearing the wig and get myself pulled together before going back to work. I need some help with this decision. What did you do? Did anyone else have this tug of war with themselves? I am not looking forward to chemo but that is just a thought right now and hasn't hit home yet. It will probably hit me a day or two before my appointment and I'm probably going to hit the floor and be in and crying heap on the floor. I have so many feelings running through me. My family has been great with helping me through this as they have been down this road before with another member. Everyone at work keeps saying the words, "you can do this, you're a fighter" some days I just want to scream because they are always the same words. I know they don't know how to handle my news or know what to say. I'm glad they are there to support me. I shouldn't complain then I feel guilty for doing so. Does anyone else have these mixed feelings? Sometimes I catch myself wondering if my husband will remarry when I'm gone then I shake my head and say out loud to myself, "you're not going anywhere". Once again, does anyone else feel this way in the beginning? I just don't know how to handle some of the thoughts and feelings that I am feeling. I need someone to talk to that can realate to what I am going through.

Thank you.

BlownAway60's picture
Posts: 848
Joined: Nov 2009

Glad you found this site but so sorry for the reason.

I too had long hair when I was dxd and the fact that I would lose all of my hair was very traumatic. I had mine cut short before I started chemo. My hair fell out 19 days after my first chemo. The morning that I noticed it had started to come out, I just went in the bathroom and put a grocery bag in the sink and pulled all of it out, until I could not pull anymore and then I took my electric shaver and shaved my head. I cried a lot but It was better for me to just get it over with. I bought 2 wigs and never cared much for either one of them. I mostly wore scarves and hats. The wigs were just uncomfortable and hot. I did buy the little rings of hair and wore those under my hats and scarves. Looked like I had hair and was a lot more comfortable. I bought 3 of them I think. A blonde, a reddish brown and a frosted brown one. Kept them guessing at work. They never knew what color hair I was going to have. My hair was about a 1/4 of an inch long when I started going to work without anything on my head. I did let it grow back to the same length it was before I lost it all but it is short now. I think I like it better short. Now it is just like wash and wear.

Your friends and co-workers mean well but they don't quite understand how your dx really effects you, emotionally and mentally as well as physically. Sometimes people say things because they just don't know what else to say. We had a counsler/social worker at work that used to come and talk to me a lot when I was going through chemo, because she wanted to understand how having cancer affects someone. I was always honest with her and thought that maybe my experience would help her help someone else.

I am sure that you will find a lot of "Kindred Spirits" here that will answer all of your questions.

Sending Hugs and Prayers

Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

Thank you Donna. I am very glad I found this site. Thank you for sharing your experience with your hair with me. After chemo I was told my doctors will do a double mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy. I go for a MUGA scan next week. Not looking forward to that as they use more radioactive dye. I just remember how it felt the last time I had the dye. Thank you again for talking with me.

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

Yes it is traumatic to lose your hair and we all go through these mixed emotions......I had my hair buzzed BEFORE it started coming out...my hairdresser of 22 years came to my house...both times...what remained started coming out on exactly day 14 after my first chemo....I was in the shower ....I thought I was prepared...I cried on my husband's shoulder...the next day I shaved my head....gave me control over something! ..I am bald again....due to brain radiation....doubtful I will ever have a full head of hair again...but it's a small price to pay for life saving procedures....

If I were you, I would at least have it cut short....once it starts falling out, you'll have hair all over the place...and I was surprised how quickly I became used to being bald....I wear my wig always when out in public...at home I wear a little watchman's hat with my animal print scarf over that...it's true, you lose body heat through your head....I freeze , even in this heat, without a head covering...I sleep with one of my watchman's hats on...

I am so sorry you've had to join a "club" that one never wants to be in but so glad you found "us"....this board is FULL of wonderful women in all stages and ages in this journey of bc...please ask anything, vent, rant what ever you need...someone will reply...Keep posting..we get it...

Hugs, Nancy

Posts: 992
Joined: Sep 2009

You are so young to be faced with such difficult decisions. It''s not just hair, it is part of our identity....especially if it is long. I am 3 1/2 years out from stage 1 bc. You can look forward to a very bright future but bc is still hell! We feel your pain. I send you love and hope, cancer stinks!


shellywahl's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2012

Hi there. I am mid-way through treatments. Endured 4 rounds of chemo, just finished double mastectomy surgery and preparing for another 4 rounds of chemo. Like you, my hair was very long and very thick. My Oncologist advised me not to shave it because it was so thick she didn't think it would all fall out. I started with cutting into a bob, face length. Control what you can, right? About 19 days after the first chemo it started falling out. It was pretty messy so I went back to the hairdresser and had it cut pixie style. Not sure why I thought that would help, just shorter and less messy. Not long after that I had it shaved with #2 all over.

Everyone's hair falls out differently. Someone told me they woke up one morning and all their hair was on their pillow. Ugh, how traumatic that must have been. Some people are okay with keeping as much as possible and enduring a few bald spots. Either way, you will probably want some 'containment units'. I used buffs early on. They are cute and fairly fashionable. Amazon sells a wide variety. Your wig shop probably sells different scarves and hair rings you can wear with hats. There is a wide variety of hair/head gear nowadays. I can tell you it comes back quickly after treatment ends. It has been a little over a month since my last treatment and my hair is already an inch long. Start another round next week so it will surely fall out again, but it's a small price to pay to kick cancers butt!. Best of luck to you! Hope this is helpful. It's good to come back to the forum, it has helped me knowing what others have been through. Take care.

LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1680
Joined: Jan 2011

That's right! You can do it!!

I was dx at 32 so I can relate. I'm now 34 and over one year out of treatment. Taking tamoxifen and doing well. And I think you can do this and will be a lot stronger after all is done. :)

It is normal to have those feelings you have. And everyone, depending on their ages, will have different concerns. Yours seem very reasonable to me so do not feel guilty.

About the hair, I too had very long hair. But I personally didn't care about losing it at all, surprisingly, because I wanted to fight like an eagle...a bald eagle (lol). I shaved my head before losing all my hair. Why? Because it annoyed me so much!! When the hair starts coming out, you need to keep cleaning yourself. Picking it up from the floor, bedsheets, clothes, other people, and...it hurts a little bit. It feel tingling on the scalp and I didn't want to deal with that so I shaved it all off. I had a difficult time dealing with other people's reaction than dealing with my own - I didn't care. But when I saw my best friend sitting behind me, he got teary. And I could not deal with other people's emotions. I needed to stay strong for myself (and my 4 pets)! And so will you! Believe.

I suggest you go with the flow, see what your mood and heart dictate you. People can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day, YOU make the decision. When you are ready to shave head, if you ever do, then you'll do it. From my experience, it was more comfortable to deal with it that way. But you do what makes you the most comfortable. Remember, that this is the time when YOU come first, second and third. Always think about your well being because you need to be stress-free during this process.

Does your facility have a support group for young people? Where do you live? I live in NY. When I was first dx it helped to talk to other young people who have being there already. You'll be surprised how many thoughts go through their minds! We all experience this level of fear. It is normal to worry - it is your health! Your life.

One thing that helped me is that I believed I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. (I believe in God so I rested on him). People have different ways of dealing with this..and it is a long process. And every step will feel different, but it will only get better. Once you start walking your path, and become familiar with it, and talk to people who care (like this forum!), you will see that it is not as bad as you think. You are stronger than you think you are. You just need to let your beast out! :)

When do you start chemo? What treatments are you getting? We will be here to help you, support you and answer any questions you may have. Remember, you are NOT alone.

Please keep us posted on how you're doing, OK? We care.

Sending you a big hug!

P.S. let's start by calling it "the small c". i refuse to give it any level of respect. Stay positive at all times! No matter what you see. And no matter what you hear.

lindan123's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2012

Your hair loss will continue throughout your treatment and up to a few weeks afterward. Whether your hair thins or you become completely bald will depend on your treatment.


It may take several weeks after treatment for your hair to recover and begin growing again. When your hair starts to grow back, it will probably be slightly different from the hair you lost. But the difference is usually temporary. Your new hair might have a different texture or color. It might be curlier than it was before, or it could be gray until the cells that control the pigment in your hair begin functioning again.

Posts: 245
Joined: May 2012

and a kind hello. You will find great advice here to go through the steps you will need to take to stay alive. And to stay centered and sane!

I waited to see my hair start to fall out before I called the beautician and she took me right away and cut it down to about 1/2 inch and arranged my wig for me. Really, I look better in a wig than my own hair so I like it. I have 3 wigs that I wear interchangeably (I got 2 free from the local "Gathering Place" and bought an inexpensive one from "TLC") and usually leave it bald at home. It was very hard and one of the hardest things to do going into the process.

Ok, you have step one down and over with the lumpectomy (I still haven't had mine yet while they are trying to shrink the 3 tumors down with chemo). The chemo is hard for me. It must be done however hard it is, but listen to the oncologist and tell them every side effect you have and ask for whatever will deal with those side effects.

I am glad they are kind to you at work, even tho they say the wrong things. Kindness goes a long way! And these husbands of ours surprise us by the courageous way they step up to the bat. One day at a time and one hour and one minute at a time is all you really have to deal with. Tomorrow will take care of itself. We have all felt what you are going through, and still do!! I often post in my anger and sadness only to have my sisters remind me of these very things.

A very gentle hug coming your way and hoping you will find strength here.


Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

Sorry I haven't been on in a couple of days. Thank you all for the support. I went back to the doctor yesterday for my follow-up to my second surgery and she told me she found more cancer. She said it was small less than 1mm and she believes she got it all. She did say my lymph nodes are clean. I've never endured so much pain from surgery before. I now cannot lift my left arm and need therapy to help. I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene so now I definantly need the double mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy. But I keep tellin myself they're just boobs and I'm done having children so it's ok. I have been looking on the brighter side of things and finally got out of the house. I'm glad that I have all of you to help me through this as well as my family. You all have given me such great advice. I've decided to let my hair fall out naturally. I want to experience it and I know it's going to make me cry. I am hoping that with me experiencing it for myself I can give some words of wisdom down the road to someone who asks me just like I've asked you. I'm just fulI of so many good feeling emotions reading all of your responses. Thank you again and I will keep you informed as I go along. I'm sure next week when my chemo starts I'll be asking more questions. I start my chemo with four rounds of AC then 12 weeks of Taxol. Then more surgery. Thank you again. Sending big hugs and kisses to all of you and a badge for being so brave.


Momma of 3 boys...
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2012

Wow, your first message could be my thoughts exactly. I start chemo next week also, and I think I'm more scared about losing my hair then anything. I know that sounds crazy, but I'm 40, with 4 young kids. what are they going to think about there mommy with no hair. I know everyone says be happy your going to be ok, & I get that. But man I already gave cancer my breasts, like you my Brca is positive so I'm having a total hysterectomy and now my hair. REALLY! Feels good to say all that, and know I'm not alone. I've cried for weeks, but now it's getting close I'm resolved to I can't stop it. I think I'll let my hair fall out by itself, then to the hairdresser. I wish you luck and lots of hugs for next week, and know I'll be there with you. Kathy

Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2012

Hi. I had a mastectomy on 8th August and, like you, am due to start chemo' on 19th Sept 2012. The chemo' came as a total shock as I thought the surgery would be a cure all. My thoughts are all over the place too. One minute I'm totally positive and can cope with any of the treatment and the next I'm a total mess. I've had the whole thought process about my husband re-marrying and then felt stupid at allowing myself to think it.

I thought the worst thing about chemo' would be hair loss so I decided to get my hair cut as short as I could, to get myself used to seeing my ears again (I had a very long bob just past my shoulders), and hopefully make things less messy when it does fall out. Everyone has loved the result except me; I feel like a 40yr old Justin Bieber!! I'm currently planning to get my hairdresser to shave it all off after my first chemo' session but I'm hoping the cold cap system might save me that.

I so know what you mean about people trying to say the right thing; 'think positive' and 'stay strong' seem to be my nemesis, even though I know they are completely right. It would be nice if they could all tell me how to do it though! I suppose it's all part of the process, getting angry, crying my eyes out, being awake in the early hours, and now and then actually feeling ok. I don't know about you but I seem to latch onto one aspect and worry and worry about it when there's so much worse things I could be thinking of e.g. hair loss - at first I thought I'll cope with this it's just vanity and then I couldn't stop panicking and wondering how I'd cover it up - wig, head scarf or hat? I searched the internet for the most fashionable look which would hide my ears and high forehead. Then I got fixated on the loss of eyebrows - should I go high definition and fill in with powder and pencil or go tattoo or stick on? I think again this must be my brains way of coping. If I concentrate on the easier subjects then I don't have to deal with the whole mortality issue as it's just too hard to think about and probably not a good idea anyway.

It's so nice to hear your comments which aren't a million miles from what I'm feeling too; it makes me feel a little more normal for the first time since being diagnosed. I've made friends with a few of the ladies who were having surgery for the same thing at the same time as me, but they all just seem to want to talk about the positive aspects and, it's almost as if it's taboo to admit anything remotely negative has entered my thinking.

Having done some more research into my treatment, which I'm not sure is always the way to go as sometimes ignorance is bliss, I'm dreading the chemo' even more. There seems to be so many side effects which aren't always temporary and it's not quite the breeze I had told myself it will be. I keep giving myself a shake to remind myself that this will be only one year out of the whole of my life and that no matter how hard I find it, it will be worth the trade off for living happily into old age. I'm trying to grit my teeth and cope, as I did with the surgery, but the fear of the unknown is what's getting to me. It's a bit like waiting for a school exam. Once I'm there I'll cope and be fine, perhaps even not half as bad as I imagined but, until I'm the panic part of my brain keeps having a field day!

Hope I haven't made things worse for you and thanks for you post

salls41's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2012

ESDC, like you, I ran all sorts of scenarios through my brain while waiting to start my chemo. The one thing you will hear/read over and over on this board is that EVERYONE is made differently even though we may have the same named cancer, it will and we will react differently to our chemo treatments. Please stop reading the studies on the internet. The only play on your mind! You may experience every single side effect or you may not experience a one of them. You will probably be middle of the road and have a few bad feelings and feel very fatigued. If you want more information on dealing with the side effects~ ask and you will get the help you need here.
As for people trying to say the right thing, think what you would have said to someone before you "got" it. It is so sweet to know how people really care, but sometimes made me laugh too at the things said to me.
It might help you to journal your thoughts. I know several of the girls here did that and it was extremely helpful to them.
Remember we are all different but we all understand your thoughts and fears because we either went through it or are going through it!

Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2012

salls41, thank-you! I should remember to do exactly that and take one day at a time. I totally agree with not looking at the net for side effects as I'm freaking over things which may never happen. I'm going to start my journal as this is a great idea and will give me another outlet to vent my anger/frustration.

Love to you

MsGebby's picture
Posts: 659
Joined: Oct 2011

Hope I got your monikers right ...

This is for everyone, but I wanted to share this especially for the two of you.

It's Called

What Cancer CANNOT do

Cancer Cannot..
*defeat the soul
*shatter hope <<<<<<
*depress faith
*destroy homes
*limit humanity
*kill friendships
*silence courage <<<<<<<<
*ruin the soul
*reduce the spirit

When I was in radiation treatments, there were days that I really felt so depressed and just didn't want to continue. I wasn't suicidal, just really depressed. One of the technicians walked up to me and hugged me and handed me a coin with the writings I just put up for you. I can't tell you what it meant to me for her act of kindness. I carry this coin with me everyday since receiving it. I read it when I feel I need a pick me up.

I hope this helps as you travel down this road with us.

May God be at your sides always and that you have faith He will get you through this.


Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2807
Joined: Jun 2010

That was my order. I dreaded the upcoming treatments (all of them, surgery, chemo, radiation). I was more afraid of them than the cancer because the cancer was invisible. But as each event approached and then was behind me, I always said "that wasn't so bad" and it was behind me. None of it was fun, some of it was pretty awful, but we do what we need to do to give us as much of a chance to keep this monster from coming back.

I had my head shaved when my hair started falling out. I don't think I could have continued to watch it fall out on its own. I did not wear a wig during treatment. I had really beautiful scarves and some cute hats and was happy with them. I figured it was ok to be bald but I never went out without a headcover or some sort. I'm just too old to pull that look off. I did learn to wear big earrings, tho.

Now that the active treatments are behind me, there are the reminders. The scars, the puny hair I now have, the follow up doctor visits and tests. My diagnosis was 2.5 years ago and I'm still here and NED. If I hadn't done the treatments, lost my hair, and endured all the lovely side effects of chemo, surgery, radiation, and arimidex, I probably would not be here today. And today I feel both physically and emotionally well, but it is a trip, that's for sure.

Hope you reach your destination with few side effects. We're here for you.


Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2012

MsGebby, BIG thanks again to you. I've printed your post and stuck it to my wall for when I'm having yet another low moment.

Love to you

hope4thebest's picture
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

My very dear friend wore this bright scarf after her chemo. She dresses for her own needs, maybe you will find some solution that will suit your personality? It is hard to accept all of the feelings associated with BC, I am discovering that we are now a member of a new club. It is not that others don't understand us, it's that we can relate better sometimes, to other pink sisters who a fighting for the cure. See Judy Blume's blog from today, 9/5, it will make you feel better, I hope. She explains so well how we are affected by this illness. Everyone has their ups and downs, but not many can understand us like fellow survivors. Maybe there is a support group in your area? I found that to be very helpful even if I have only been able to attend a couple of mtgs so far. Let the tears fall, release. I found a journal and exercise (daily walk) to also be good tools to let go of the frustration. Much Aloha to you from Maui.

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

I have had two primaries, the first one when I was 34. At that time they did CMF and my hair thinnned it did not all come out. but it wasnt fun, I had a baby and she would grab my hair and the hair would come out in her hands. This time I waited until I knew it would come out. My husband was antsy and kept nagging me to go to the hairdresser, I waited until was ready, then I had it buzzed. I was ill alot so I just wore scarves. am suprised how quickly I wasnt self concious. My hair grew back curly and is still curly I had stick straight hair, it is also darker. I am two and hald years out and it is a bad memory. so try to understand it is temporary,and a means to insure you live a very long life. hugs.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

I was thinking about my personality and I'm usually a very upbeat person who gets thrills by making someone smile and laugh. I love to play with my kids and get them involved with everything I can. I have decided to wait until it starts to fall out then I'm going to have some fun with my kids. I'm going to give them each scissors and let them have at my hair. I think they will get a kick out of it and it will get them involved with my treatment. They have been so good to make sure I'm ok and when I'm crying they just sit next to me, put their arms around me and hug and don't say anything. To me that's the best thing I need. Sometimes you don't want anyone to say anything just sit with an arm around you and quiet time. After a bit I feel better and can move on.

I went for my first lymphadema therapy today and I never knew therapy could hurt so bad. But the outcome, I can now move my arm above my head. The pain was so intense at times I thought I was going to be sick. Not looking forward to it again after the double mastectomy.

Thank you for what cancer cannot take from me. I liked reading that and I also like the journal part. I run into more and more ladies who have or have had breast cancer. You don't know who they are. I guess I expected a big neon sign to hang over my head forever. My feelings have since gotten better and I'm starting to laugh more. I'm currently reading a book titled Cancer on $5 a day (chemo not included) its pretty funny and it's about a man who goes through his experience with cancer. He is a comedian and makes it a point to make people laugh. I've been laughing and it feels good. Talking helps and reading all the posts helps too. My first chemo is this Thursday and I'm nervous because I'm anticipating the pain. I keep telling myself I can do this. Look at everyone else who has done it. If they can do it, I can do it.

Thank you for the hugs and I give hugs to all of you too. We can be positive together and laugh together. We can do this!


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