An older woman sits at a table with her head in her hand. She looks impatient, irritated, and weary

Short Term Changes?

Grrr, I was so frustrated and angry! I had just finished reading an
article in a well-respected breast cancer publication that was entitled
“Recognizing the Symptoms of Breast Cancer.” It did not mention one of
my symptoms.

The less common breast cancer symptoms

I did not have any of the obvious symptoms mentioned in the article: a
distinct lump, dimpling, and/or discharge. My symptoms were a dull, achy
pain in my left breast, pressure on the upper left side of my rib cage,
and feeling full even when I hadn’t eaten. I’m not saying the symptoms
in the article aren’t real or common; just that there can be vague
symptoms one may not directly relate to cancer. So, of course, get your
regular mammogram, but…

…that’s not exactly what I’m writing about. The aforementioned
the frustrating article also discussed “how to cope with physical changes.”
One sentence was, “Some changes may be short-term like hair loss.”

Short term changes

Short term? Really? I finished chemo in May of 2019 and my
once-big-black hair is growing slower than molasses in January (is
that still a thing)? And it’s 99% grey. It’s a cross between the hairdos
of Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper. Sure, my long, dark hair was frizzy
and wild and I’m 67 years old so the “black” was from a bottle but
still…I want it back!

Why losing hair means so much

I’ve had naturally curly black hair for 65 years of my life. It was my
crowning glory. You don’t think that matters? I even had thick curly
hair as a newborn. The nurses in the hospital called me Clara Bow - you
know, the old-time sultry actress who had curly hair, my name is Claire,
get it? Oh, never mind.

"Don't worry, it'll grow back"

Now, before I finish venting, allow me to just briefly mention the
supposedly well-meaning people who have said to me about my hair, “Don’t
worry, it will grow back.” I want to lunge at them with a pair of
clippers and scream, “Come here and let me shave your head. I know
you’ll be fine with it because, you know, it will grow back.”

Cancer sucks for many reasons

Anyway, cancer sucks for lots of reasons. For me, one of the worst was
losing my hair. Yes, it’s slowly growing back and I’m very grateful for
that. But listen, world, when you write about or talk to people with
cancer don’t blow off their hair loss like it’s a broken fingernail.

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