#101 Wigging Out
In each of the pictures below, except one, I’m wearing a different wig. The “one” where I’m not (in case it isn’t obvious) is when my fur baby, Chivas, decided to get in the wig game.. 🙂
Hair today, gone tomorrow. Okay, I just couldn’t resist. One of the most traumatic parts of cancer treatment is when your hair falls out—in clumps. Often in the shower, but other places as well. Including when you run your hand through your hair out of habit and instead of ended up empty-handed, you have a handful of hair that used to be permanently attached to your head.
Many people think the trauma of going bald is about vanity. Let me tell you, vanity has so little to do with it; it’s not even funny. It’s about so many other things that are so much more important. It’s about identity really; knowing who you are and recognizing yourself when you walk by a mirror. It’s about no longer keeping your secret from the world. Once you walk outside with your bald head shining or wearing a hat or a so-easily-identified-cancer-scarf wrapped around your head, you’re announcing to the whole world that you have cancer — whether you want to or not. Ready or not, here they come — the stares from people you don’t know. The looks of pity on the faces of people you do know.
I have a post on the trauma of hair loss on my timeline, so I won’t get deep here. Instead, I want to share some things I learned about getting ready for the no-hair journey.
- Even if you don’t think you’re going to want a wig, shop for one anyway and shop early, before your hair falls out, so you can get something close to your natural hair if that’s important to you. Also, the last thing you want to have happen is you need a wig and you don’t have one!
- Make sure you’re ready to look for a wig — you have to be ready emotionally. Otherwise, it can be a tough experience.
- Ask other cancer patients (if you know any) where they bought their wigs. Referrals from people who have purchased wigs are always better than only going to the wig shops that the cancer centers will point you to.
- Recognize that you can pay as little as $200 for a wig and as much as $5,000. So, shop carefully. You get what you pay for. And, bonus! Many insurance companies will reimburse you for at least part of the cost if you make sure you get a prescription from your doctor for a “cranial prosthesis.”
- Many hair stylists (especially black hair stylists) are masters at making custom wigs that will run you around $500 and look fantastic! And these aren’t wigs only for their Black clientele.
- Check out YouTube and see what’s going on with wigs these days. There are so many resources online that give you a sense of how to wear a wig, how to keep it on, and how to make it look natural. Personally, I’m a fan of the Wig Grip band. Also, do not buy synthetic hair. You’ll regret it. Trust me on this. Really, trust me on this.
- Keep in mind that you will have to have your wig re-fitted once your hair falls out. Your head will be smaller without hair.
- DO NOT buy a wig from anyone who doesn’t take measurements of your head. If they say “Oh, I don’t need to measure your head; I can tell what you need.” Run, don’t walk, out of the shop. Leave as fast as you can.
- Everyone will tell you to have fun when you shop for a wig, so I’ll say that too, but don’t be surprised if in the middle of it all you just break down. It’s fun until it’s not.
- One other thing. The best glue I have found is called Bold Hold. It’s very good, but does not work well in warm weather or if you have a lot of hot flashes. My suggestion is to stick with the wig band –it’s much easier and you don’t have to worry about your wig slipping off.
Thank you for sharing your experience. My sister has been fighting breast cancer for 6 years now and everything you say in your blogs rings true. Keep up your enthusiasm and fighting spirit, we appreciate you (and Bubba).