Some chemotherapy drugs and local radiotherapy treatments stop hair being produced. It’s the most obvious side effect, so it’s probably the thing that most people worry about. But even though hair may fall out during treatment, it’ll grow back when treatment ends and the cells start working again.
For some people, hair loss may be limited to the hair on their head. But other people lose their underarm hair, eyebrows, eyelashes or pubes!
Some don’t experience any hair loss at all. If this happens to you, don’t be worried that the treatment isn’t working – your treatment will be effective at killing cancer cells whether hair falls out or not!
Hair loss usually starts two weeks after the first treatment and should start to grow back six weeks after treatment.
It might not grow back exactly that same way as it was before though – sometimes it grows back thinner, sometimes thicker, straighter, curlier, darker or lighter (weird huh!).
When you know that your hair is going to fall out, the waiting can be tough. And even if you’re prepared for it to happen, it can come as a shock.
Ways to cope with hair loss
Discover your inner punk! Go for a mohawk or dye your hair a crazy colour before you begin treatment.
Have a shaving party with your mates – order some pizza, crank up the music and try some different ‘dos before chopping the whole lot off.
Visualise yourself without hair. If you’ve got an idea of how you’ll look in your head, it won’t come as such a big shock to see it for real.
Ease into life without hair with a series of shorter haircuts.
Get comfortable with your new look – it will help others be comfortable with it too.
Think about what else you could wear on your head besides hair … there are so many options! You could go for a bandanna, a baseball cap, a wig, a beanie or a beret. Why not try something different every week?
Above all, remember that this is only a temporary side effect. Your hair will grow back.