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Hair today, gone tomorrow: Losing my hair during thymoma treatment

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annajackson_hair.jpgBy Anna Jackson

Possibly one of the most concerning parts of cancer treatment is the idea of losing your hair. Talk about adding insult to injury. When I first received my thymoma diagnosis , one of my first questions was, "Will I lose my hair?" Unfortunately, the chemotherapy required to treat my stage four thymoma made that answer a resounding yes.

Dealing with insecurities during cancer treatment

I'm a true Texas woman and I loved my long, big hair. Standing to lose it broke my heart. I was sad for me. I worried how it would impact my 12-year-old boys to have a bald mom. I hoped my husband would still think I was pretty.

Later I realized that although I couldn't change the fact I was losing my hair, I could sure control how I lost it. I would do this on my terms, not on cancer's. The planning began. I got online and purchased bald caps for all my family members, both near and far. I recruited them to be a part of my plan.

I was told that my hair would begin falling out 14 days after starting treatment. Like clockwork, on the 14th day I ran my fingers through my hair and watched it begin to fall to the ground. Time to work my plan.

My plan to take back cancer's power
Phase 1: I quickly put my hair up into little pony tails. My hair loss wouldn't be in vain. I would rescue it and donate it to a group that makes free wigs for cancer patients. My loss would be someone else's gain.

Phase 2: I mobilized the troops. My whole family dropped what they were doing and headed to my house that evening. Even my sister and her family in another state were enlisted to participate via satellite.  My family's job? Slap on a bald cap and help me cut this off. We gathered in my bathroom and laughed and joked as each one cut off a ponytail. What could have been a sad moment was filled with laughter. Cancer might take my hair, but it wouldn't take my joy!

Phase 3: We ate cake. It seems cake is often associated with new beginnings and marking of milestones; birthdays and anniversaries. This day would be a milestone in my healing and a celebration of new beginnings. Let there be cake!

Cancer is a thief. It steals our health, our hair, and our control, but we get to choose how we will respond to it. Choosing joy makes me feel like I am beating cancer and not being beaten by it.

Anna Masten Jackson has many titles: wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and educator, but the one title that will not define her is cancer victim. She has found blessings in the struggle. For more of her story, read her blog.

Read more posts by Anna Jackson.

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