If we can face life’s challenges feeling good about ourselves, we can
often meet those challenges with more
clarity, more determination, and more
understanding. At no time is such love
of self more important than when fighting
cancer. Yet many women find their
love of self becomes compromised by
the emotions stirred when they find a
bald, “sick-looking” person staring back
at them in the mirror. Even women who
rise above self-deflating thoughts must
guard against the public stares, looks of
pity, and unsolicited comments that remind
them that they visually represent
cancer, simply because they lack hair.

As our awareness of the relationship between emotional well-being and physical healing grows, cancer care is
gradually expanding to include emotional
and appearance support. Nonetheless,
there is still very little real understanding
of the emotional impact of medical
hair loss. Without hair, many women
feel stripped of their identity and femininity,
making it even more difficult to
maintain the sense of positive optimism
that is so important for healing. Those
women need to know that hiding is neither
the only option nor the best option.
Women who lose their hair during chemo
want to continue living, not just coping.

Among those women who lose their hair due to chemotherapy, some consider it the least of their worries, insignificant,
or even liberating. Women’s
responses are as diverse as the women
themselves. Some women find it to be
one of the most (or even the most) difficult
aspect of cancer. Those women
find little or no resources to assist them
in dealing with the emotions triggered
by hair loss, and they have little time
and energy to seek out those resources
or support.

Without hair, many women feel stripped of their identity and femininity.

Well-meaning friends and family may minimize or dismiss their feelings, wrongly assuming that it is a somehow
separate and less traumatic issue than
the cancer itself. As a result, women
may suffer in isolation and be made to
feel vain, guilty, or out of touch with
what matters most, if they express their
emotions or show their true grief. Before
a woman loses her hair to chemotherapy,
she will often put much of her energy
into maintaining a sense of normalcy
for the benefit of loved ones, especially
children. Many women find it is their
hair loss that pushes their parents, partners,
and children over the edge with fear.

Rather than face the emotional side of chemo-induced hair loss alone, women need more understanding, more resources,
and more options for coping
with the drastic assault on their self-esteem
that often accompanies hair loss.
Because there is no “one size fits all”
means of addressing women’s emotions,
the first step is to acknowledge the fact
that hair loss can be of deep emotional
significance to women. When women
find comprehensive emotional understanding
and support for coping with
cancer-related hair loss, the healing journey
will be that much easier.

Views: 3

Comment by Joy on February 19, 2010 at 3:24pm
Wow..I couldnt agree with you more. You have eloquently described the plight and fears of women losing their hair to cancer (and other medical reasons). Your blog is very accurate in that one should never minimize a womans feelings about losing their hair. It does add to the shame and though some may feel they are helping they are wounding instead....and the wounds go deep. The last thing we want to do when our loved ones lose their hair is dimiss that persons feelings...compassion goes a long ways and helping someone find the headcovering they need is so important to give them strength and the dignity to go on if the loss bothers them. You truly have a deep and wonderful grasp on dealing with hair loss for a cancer patient. This is one of the best blogs I have ever seen written. God bless you!
Comment by Susan Beausang on February 19, 2010 at 4:26pm
HI Joy:
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I have learned alot over the last 8 "bald years". It's been an interesting journey for me but a rewarding one. God bless you too!
Comment by Susan Beausang on February 20, 2010 at 10:19am
Hi Annette:
Nice to hear from you! Thanks for reading my article. It's therapeutic to share these emotions and rewarding to know that by sharing my emotions that I may help someone along their hair loss journey! Bless you!



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