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.