Bad Hair Day

Yesterday was a busy day.

JJ’s laptop was ready to be picked up at the repair shop, so EJ went and got it for him. With JJ vulnerable to illness, I stayed home with him. He suffered terrible body aches from the injection he had had on Friday. I called the Cancer Center to ask the nurse what we could give him to reduce the discomfort.

JJ was overjoyed to get his beloved computer back. He’s been desperate to have his laptop fixed  so he can play his favorite games and connect with his friends at online forums. He was also told by TR, a guy the doctor connected him to who is also going through the same kind of cancer, that it is essential that he has a hobby. The repair shop fixed the problems that JJ described, but when JJ turned on his computer, he couldn’t access his programs and even got a “Blue Screen of Death.” He was so frustrated and disheartened. He tinkered with it for several hours, but finally asked God to please help him with the computer, and suddenly his computer was running everything perfectly fine. What a gift!

After EJ brought back JJ’s computer, he went grocery shopping. Christmas eve is a terrible day to go shopping because thousands of other people were doing their last-minute Christmas shopping, but this was really the only day we were able to do it. While EJ was gone, I cleaned the house, brought in firewood, got the mail, made chili, and stuff like that.

Today was a quiet day. About the only thing we did was order Chinese takeout. Today was also a very momentous day because this was the day JJ’s hair fell out.

JJ’s hair started falling out a little bit last night. He’d tug lightly on his hair and several strands came out. Today massive amounts of hair fell out. It came out in chunks, with large sections of baldness. He looked rather comical, in a distressing sort of way. He’s now mostly bald, although not entirely. EJ offered to cut it all off for him, just to get it over with, but I don’t think JJ is ready to rush the baldness.

We knew that chemo causes people to lose their hair, of course, and we were expecting it to happen, but I didn’t know it happened like this. I guess I never really thought much about it. It was just an abstract, “People having chemo lose their hair. They go from hair to baldness. End of story.” I didn’t know it all fell out in about a day or that JJ would look like a mistreated doll with chunks of its hair ripped out.

I read an article tonight about the emotional effects of hair loss on cancer patients. It says that

“Losing hair is a real loss, and patients need to grieve. Losing your hair is a tangible sign that everything is different, and it may trigger deep feelings…Realize that hair loss makes cancer patients feel exposed and vulnerable. For most people, hair loss is a public announcement of the fact that they’ve got cancer. All of a sudden, something that’s very private — a life-threatening illness — becomes public knowledge…Cancer patients often describe losing their hair as feeling like they’re walking around with no skin; they feel raw, exposed, and powerless…Understand that feelings about hair loss are feelings about change. When someone is going through cancer treatment and already feels scared and vulnerable, the threat of losing her hair can seem like the proverbial last straw. With everything else changing in her life, it can be overwhelming to face having her appearance change so dramatically. In fact, hair loss is sometimes a trigger for depression because a cancer patient feels like so much loss is wrapped up in this event. If she loses her eyebrows and eyelashes, it’s even more upsetting because it changes her appearance so drastically. Cancer patients describe looking in the mirror and feeling like they’re staring at a stranger. What could be more disorienting than not recognizing yourself?” 

To read more about hair loss and how to help those who are losing their hair, click here.


5 Comments on “Bad Hair Day

  1. O Teri I had hoped that JJ didn’t have to go trough this ordeal. I feel so very very sorry for him. I feel so very deeply the pain this must bring. Yes vulnerable it must feel.And for you as a mother to watch it and for EJ as a father of course. Please give JJ again a special hug from me. And tell him i’ll be praying for him and you both. Happy for him that is computer is up and running again that gives some time with friends online. Hope you have a quiet day and take all the rest you needed. Is there still snow?? Love you ❤


  2. Oh Teri, I feel so bad for you guys. I was at Kevin’s aunt’s house when she lost her hair. It was horrible because she didn’t realize it would fall out in chunks. The surprise and distress on her face was awful. I told Kevin we needed to leave so she could have this private moment alone without company to make it worse. Big HUGS! My parents are still without power. They have a down line in their yard. I guess this requires special crews to come and re-install. 😦 this has been very stressful for my parents. We will be staying until they have power back and are settled again.


  3. It is an emotional time when the hair starts to fall out–more so than I expected. Maybe is hits harder because it’s so visible that, yes, JJ really, really has cancer. I also really never thought that when a cancer patient loses hair, it’s not just limited to the hair on his head.

    We are choosing to laugh about JJ’s hair loss and make jokes. It helps make the transition easier to laugh about it. I think JJ is still very, very handsome.

    Simone, I passed your hug on to JJ. He appreciates your hugs. And, yes, we still have snow. Dorothy, I hope your parents get their power back soon. I know it’s difficult to be without it.


  4. When our little niece went through the hair loss, all of the uncles shaved their heads in support. It might have been more effective if the aunts did it. My contribution is to grow out my hair and donate it. I have done it four times and wish that there had been such a cause when I was young because I hated to see the hair go to waste. Hang in their JJ.


  5. Shaving our heads for support didn’t mean much to JJ. He’d rather we looked “normal.” JJ hair loss was somewhat difficult, but i think a girl/woman losing her hair would be much more emotionally difficult. I think growing hair to donate is a tremendous idea. My hair never seems to grow very fast or long or I’d definitely consider donating it.

    To show our support of JJ, we all bought bear hats. Pictures will be coming in a post soon….Friends at FB also are showing support by taking pictures of themselves in silly hats and I’m putting them in an album for JJ. i think there is an infinite number of creative ways to show support to a loved one going through cancer. Readers, what are some ways you have shown support?


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