Challenge 7
A woman who is strong in her faith and possibly the kindest person I know, shared that giving and other acts of kindness can lift your spirits from even the lowest and hardest of places. With this advice in mind, I chose to donate my hair before it began to fall out as my first act of giving since diagnosis. The bonuses for me: less hair to manage and a more gradual transition to going bald.

The same family friend offered to come along to my hair cut appointment, send my hair into Pantene, and celebrate afterwards with dinner of my choosing. Anxious to have short hair for the first time in my conscious life, I picked out a few example haircuts online. Choosing a pixie cut over a shorter bob cut, I knew that I would have a bob in the process of growing my hair back out after treatment. The result was a dramatic change.

Since my hair has natural highlights from the sun, the short hair left was much darker, and the cut was a difficult adjustment. The same salon I had my hair done offered to bleach it for me and see if I liked the look better. A few days later, itchy-white cream was painted into my hair and the experimenting with my hair had officially begun. As the Aveda Salon used more natural based products, I was not able to get the platinum blonde I had intended, but I did feel more comfortable with my new hair.

How should you celebrate getting through your first chemo? Dye your hair purple! My boyfriend and I had fun dying my hair at home in the sink. The Hodgkin Lymphoma ribbon is violet, and I found the closest color for my hair possible. Enjoying having cut my hair for a good cause and having it be a fun color to represent and spread awareness for my cancer left me with hair I was proud of. What did not feel good was the attention and looks it brought.

Wanting to be taken more seriously, I turned to natural hair colors. With my hair already damaged and the knowledge that it would be falling soon after my second round of chemo, I looked to the hair dye aisle yet again. I chose black, something to cover the purple and to continue with the drama.

Now I know what I look like with black hair, but I do not need to see it on myself again. A week after my second chemo, I saw the hair coming out. Ten hairs at a time, it was time for the shave before it began to clog drains.

Back to the hair salon on Valentines Day, less than a month after diagnosis- the buzzer was on. It seemed harder on the hair dresser than it did on me. She started in the back where my hair was the shortest and within ten minutes it was gone. I was cold. Hair is a fantastic insulator of heat and going through February with short hair is quite chilly. There were some younger children in the salon at the time and I could tell they were puzzled at why a female was shaving her head. The adults looked at me with sadness. Curious for me to see the differing reactions from the varying generations, backgrounds, and genders. The transformation to baldness was a process that attracted looks.

Grateful for the golden color and health of my old hair, I am glad to have gotten the experimenting out of the way. The tricky thing can be my hair might change color and texture when it comes back after treatment. Meaning I could have brown, curly hair when it grows back so for now I will anticipate. Losing the hair was not the traumatic change it seems to be for most younger women going through chemo. In some ways it made my life simpler. The only challenge is managing the cold and sun protection of my scalp- leading to my hat or scarf flying on and off my head as I try to regulate my body temperature. There are enough new things to manage: prescriptions, appointments, diet, and so on that not having hair is almost a good thing.

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