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Holly's Hair

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hollyhair.jpgBy Holly Easley

Holly Easley began her cancer journey five years ago when she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). After two types of chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant, she says she loves life, is improving daily and enjoys blogging about the cancer experience at http://hollyeasley.wordpress.com/.

My hair.

I've always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. Being a redhead attracted a lot of attention, good and bad.

On the good side was the color of my red hair, a coppery, bright red with natural highlights. It was fine and thick with enough natural curl to work with.

The bad side? There's a stigma about redheads having a temper. I don't know how many times I heard, "Don't make Holly mad. That temper will come out," in grade school.

New "do"

When I began my stem cell transplant journey, my hair journey followed right along with it.

I knew my hair was going to fall out, so the first thing I did was get my shoulder-length hair cut to an inch all over. I know some people prefer to shave their heads, but I opted for a really short "do" and was relieved in a weird way.

hollyhair2.jpgI was also curious and wanted to see how the rest of my hair would fall out.

A few days later I was admitted to the hospital and was talking to my nurse about the chemo making my hair fall out. She told me it was usually around the 13th day when this happened.

Well it did.

On exactly the 13th day I was in the shower washing my hair, when it began falling out into my hands.

I rinsed and rinsed and it kept coming out. I got out of the shower and there was a huge pile of hair next to me.

Then, my husband and I stood at the bathroom sink and pulled out tufts of hair. It was completely painless, like the hair was never even attached.

hollyhair1.jpgCreative coverings
My head was very sensitive to temperature after my hair fell out, just the slightest draft or ray of sunlight would bother me. This is when I started hunting for comfortable head coverings. 

I started with caps, but sometimes I didn't want to deal with the bill hanging over my face or neck if I wear it backwards. And I wasn't quite ready to do the wig thing.

Luckily, I found just what I needed at the gift shop in the Rotary House hotel at MD Anderson. These caps are cotton, very comfortable and I liked the look. They come in several colors and can be dressed up with a bling-y broche. My personal favorites are black, leopard print and dark denim.

Wigging out
After I got the cap thing figured out, I was told that the beauty/barber shop at MD Anderson gives a free wig to those who would like one. The beauty/barber shop is located in MD Anderson's Main Building on Floor 6 near Elevator F, and is managed by the Department of Volunteer Services. In addition to wigs, they offer haircuts, shampoos, shaves, hats and scarves.

The woman there was so sweet. She let me try on several wigs until I found the right one.

I am hooked on this wig thing.

I never had it so easy. I could just plop on a wig that never loses its style or curl, and I was good to go. Shampoo in the sink and hang to dry. How easy is that?

I wore one that's almost identical to my natural red hair color and style. Then I got an inexpensive fun, funky one. 

Now my hair is growing back and I must say it is pretty bizarre. It's extremely curly, multicolored, uncooperative, frizzy and wavy. Although, I have to admit that I'm happy to be getting it back, frizzy or not.

When you think that the baldness issue will bother you, you learn that in the whole scheme of things, it's not that important. Priorities change. You're just happy to be on your way to better health. 

After all, bald is beautiful!

Read more posts by Holly Easley

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