(I can't hear the phrase "She bangs" without thinking of William Hung from American Idol, can you?)
Like listening to Hung, losing your hair is truly every woman's nightmare, more so than most any other aspect of chemotherapy. Being bald hits us in a primal place, one that you don't have to be vain to experience. Most women destined for neo-adjuvent chemo lose their hair and few of us look good bald. At least, I sure didn't, but honestly, I've seen some bald beauties.
(For the record, those of us on chemo for metastatic breast cancer may be on a drug that doesn't cause hair loss - this is important to know so that you don't think somebody is lying if they tell you they are on chemo and yet have a full head of hair. The length of your hair plays no role in how sick you may be.)
Despite what the movies portray, many of us are able to keep our lives going fully while on chemo. We go to work, go out with friends, have lunch dates, take our kids on field trips or volunteer - yet we have to do it bald. Being bald pretty much announces we have cancer to all who see us, which can be hard on the psyche of women - even those who have never been much into appearance. Being bald is a challenge because it means that everybody knows your health status with a glance - or thinks they do. So one goes bald and endures the questions, sympathy, and stares - not to mention the weather. Or, one might prefer wigs, scarves, hats, and some even do henna tattooing. Some do them all, however they feel that day. Believe it or not, you can have a good bald day or a bad bald day. "Damn. This scarf keeps sliding off my head."
One thing I learned is that even with the sweetest vintage Echo silk scarf fetchingly tied, or an adorable roaring 20s style hat, you'll still look a little funny and flat-headed, big earrings aside. After puzzling about it for a while, I realized it's because no hair is showing anywhere, giving an odd appearance. It's hard to get a scarf or hat to remain completely flat on your forehead and without hair, it just looks a bit confusing. If you were throwing a hat on for fashion on a normal, cancer-free day, you'd still have some hair showing somewhere.
In comes Shebangz. There is that problem solving I was talking about. Shebangz is a handy kit that contains everything you need to make bangs (or fringe for you Brits) from your own hair. It is really true that putting bangs on underneath your hat or scarf makes a huge difference to your look, and can take you from "sick" to "style" instantly. You can buy some artificial bang strips, but they are rarely of good quality and don't come in many colors. So if you know you are going to lose your hair, why not use your own? For about the same price, you know it's the right color, texture and style.
Shebangz helps you save your own hair and make your own fringe. You must have 4 inches of hair, but all you do is place a special strip on your hair, pull the right pieces through, use the glue that comes with it, and cut. You then have bangs made of your own hair that you can wash or curl. A real human hair wiglet, of your own hair. What could look more natural?
Because I now have a head of hair, I'm not going to demonstrate it for you, but if you look on the website, the instructions don't look too difficult. You will need a friend or stylist to do it with you. When I shaved my head, my stylist did it and I'm quite certain she'd have helped.
I wanted to put off chopping my hair - partly because I found the way it came out fascinating, but also because I really didn't want to cut it off. I procrastinated. To use SheBangz easily, you may want to accept this hair loss and do it at the right time, because - and I don't know, am just guessing - if you wait until the end when it's coming out in huge chunks, you may not get a nice long strip of hair to turn into a good bang. During that intense shedding period, it might be hard to pull hair through the holes without pulling it all out, and it might get rather messy in the process. So do it when you know your hair will go but before it comes out in huge handfuls.
And if you are one of the people who wants to do a mohawk or something ahead of time, no problem. Get this kit, have your stylist help you with the bangs, and then cut your mohawk or dye your hair purple. Have fun.
This is a very good, affordable solution to a problem you probably don't realize you will have if you are a first-timer to chemo. Bangs, and little pieces around the ears, can make all the difference in appearing more normal during your treatment, and looking like you are making a fashion choice rather than being sick. You can use it or not as you see fit, but why not have it available? Truth is, I really wish I'd known about this the first time I lost my hair. I did buy a fake bang when I was supposed to lose my hair for the second time, and it was cheap, but the color was very wonky. My own would have been better.
I also would have loved to have a souvenir of the color it used to be. I saved a breast as a souvenir, why not a chunk of hair? Who knew it'd grow in grey?
You can purchase the Shebangz here. It seems to be a one-woman operation by a survivor living in Hawaii, so it's nice to support somebody who has been there and understands.
The good news is she sent me two kits, so I am going to have a contest and give one to a lucky winner. All you have to do is like my facebook page and follow the instructions that will be there shortly. I'll have a contest and use randomizer to pick a winner. Tell any friends who are going to lose their hair to cancer, it doesn't have to be breast cancer.
I have a beautiful product for tomorrow's review.
Disclaimer: I sometimes review products designed for cancer patients. I don't get paid to do these reviews, and I am not affiliated with the companies in any way. The only thing I have received is the product itself. It would be hard to review something without seeing it, although you'd be amazed at how many ask me to do just that! Those of you who know me understand that I believe a product must have value for a patient for me to even consider posting it. I worry about the morality of marketing to cancer patients at a time when they are most vulnerable - on the other hand, I support people who see a problem and fill a need. So when I do reviews, it's because I think the product does the latter. All three of the products I'll review over the next few days were designed by and for cancer patients.
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I live with metastatic breast cancer. .
I was diagnosed 2009 with Stage 2 Her2+ breast cancer. Mastectomy followed, 6 rounds of chemo and a year of herceptin. A few months after I finished, cancer was found in my liver-incurable. I've done chemo after chemo, has my liver partially removed and did cyber knife radiation. Like all metsters, I'll be on treatment until I die.
I'm a former High School Secretary, wife, and mother of two great sons.
To read my entire cancer story, go to www.butdoctorihatepink.com and find the post called "What the heck is that?" on September 2, 2009, or look at the top of the blog and click on "chronological posts". (Some issues with the feed on that but it will get you started). If you are a blogger who can give me a link, I'd appreciate it very much. To email me, click on my profile and you'll find a email addy. I answer every email from a cancer patient. Also like my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Facebook. I'm butdoctorihatepink on Instagram and @butdocihatepink on Twitter. Like me while you can!