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Founded by a daughter who’s been there, Daughters Like Us is an online resource center and community of support for women caring for their loved ones with cancer. Daughters Like Us strives to make cancer manageable through truth, love, connection and support.

Angela's story: Fearing hair loss

Angela's story: Fearing hair loss

I jumped out of my sleep.

Bedroom dark. Eyes wide. I madly pulled at the roots of my long brown hair. 

Tug. Tug. Tug.

I let out a long breath. 

My hands slowly came back down to my sheets.

I'm not bald.

But, soon, mom would be.

My mom has cancer.

It was this that scared me most.

Seeing mom without her long, thick, brown hair - the hair that framed Roe's signature smile in every picture we took together since the early '80s; the hair she refused to cut because she thought it made her look young - at 54.

I wasn't ready to see my mom bald. Or wearing a turban.

I wasn't ready to see my mom -  as a cancer patient.

After mom's first chemo treatment, I turned once again to my old friend Google.

"How long after chemo starts does hair loss begin?" 

Two to four weeks after treatment starts, I read. 

My face felt hot.

"Does hair loss always happen during chemo?" 

Say no. Say no. Say no.

For many breast cancer patients it's pretty much a guarantee, Google told me. The types of chemo commonly used for breast cancer are known to cause hair loss, Google continued.

Fine, Google. Fine.

I pictured mom without hair. 

"What are the signs hair loss is beginning?"

I shuddered when Google revealed its top answers: 

  • The hair could fall out quickly in clumps - or gradually
  • A burning sensation will be felt in the scalp
  • Scalp may feel tender
  • Hair will fall out on pillows, hairbrushes, or be found in shower drains

I made a mental note.

Mom didn't want to know, she said.

She also didn't want to shave her head as some cancer patients do.

Instead, she cut her long hair. For the first time in her adult life. It grazed her chin.

"I don't like it," she frowned.

"It looks beautiful, " I said, searching the mental file I titled 'Chemo and Hair Loss'.

"Hey, mom, has your scalp been burning?" I asked. 

"Yes, here in the crown," she said, pushing on her hair. "I've been getting a lot of headaches."

I nodded slowly and looked down.

Here it comes.

One Sunday morning, days after mom's second treatment, it began.

I packed my bags to return to the City with mom resting close by. She got up to help me. 

I froze, staring at the pillow where she'd been laying.  

It was covered in hair.

I couldn't look away. Tears welled up. My face felt hot. 

Mom followed my gaze and calmly brushed the strands of hair off the pillowcase and into her hand.

"It's just a little hair," she said. 

I hugged her tightly.

I pictured mom without hair.

I blinked hard. It wouldn't go away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast cancer breakthrough: New genes discovered

Breast cancer breakthrough: New genes discovered

Angela's story: Facing chemo with mom

Angela's story: Facing chemo with mom