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The first time I did treatment, back in 2009, the chemo made me lose all of my hair within two to three weeks. It was very fast. I was attending a youth conference with some family and my hair had started falling out while we were there. I wore hats to get me through the weekend because Sunday was my baby shower for Abbey. I was not ready to shave it yet, and did not want to be bald for my one and only shower. I wore a headband to my shower. As I would hug all of my guests, hair would fall on them. I was very embarrassed and sad that it was happening.
That following Tuesday, I was determined to have it shaved. I ended up going to a hair-cutting place with Tyler, my husband, and had it shaved. It was the worse experience ever. It is such an emotional thing to have to go through, and to have that much vulnerability in a public place, around people you do not know, is gut wrenching.
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This time, it has been a slower process. Taxol does cause hair loss but in some cases it just thins. Mine has been thinning. It got really bald in spots and was very messy. I decided to go ahead and shave it on Sunday. This time, because of my previous experience and because my daughter Abbey is at the age that she will remember this type of thing, I wanted it to be a fun and positive experience. We had a head shaving party. All my closest family and friends came over. Everyone took a “whack” at it. Even Abbey.
Abbey did very well. She just watched and said, “Mommy, you getting a hair cut?” It was so wonderful to have everyone there. It was such a great experience and I felt so much better after I did it. I felt so relieved that I did not have to take showers anymore and wash my hair and have my entire hands covered in hair. I was happy that I would not wake up in the morning anymore with hair all over my bed and face and in my mouth.
The night after, about two hours after we had put Abbey down for bed, she woke up sobbing. I went into her room and held her. When she saw it was me holding her, she said, “No, Mommy, you are scary….Don’t hold me. I want Daddy.” I was devastated. Tyler came in and held her and got her back to sleep. I went and locked myself in the bathroom and just sobbed for an hour. I felt as if she was not ever going to love me anymore and that she would not want me to be her mom because she was afraid of me. I went to bed and tried to sleep but I just kept waking up and thinking about it.
The next morning, when she woke up, I heard her in the monitor. I put on a hat and went into her room. She told me, “Good morning Mommy. You not scary? You hair not scary?” I told her, “No, baby. I am not scary….Mommy just got a hair cut.” So she came over and took my hat off. She asked if she could touch my head. I told her, yes, she could. She came over and rubbed my head. And then she grabbed my face with both of her hands and pulled my head down to her and she kissed my bald head. I began sobbing. I just held her in my arms and hugged her so tight. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen her do. She still loved me and I felt like she loved me even more now. I know she is young and it was probably just very scary for her to see her mommy look like that.
I was given a book when I started my clinical trial at University called “You are the best medicine.” It is a child’s book about a mom and daughter, and the mom had cancer. It is a beautiful book. I read it to Abbey. I talked to her about each page and explained to her how the characters in the book were her and me. She asked lots of questions and when it was over she said, “I love you Mommy. You put your hat back on now?” I just love how simple life is to her and how she loves me unconditionally, no matter what I look like. (Click here for part one.)
Read “What Happened to Abbey’s Mom.”
Read Nicole’s first blog post.
Read Nicole’s second blog post.
Read Nicole’s third blog post.
Read Nicole’s fourth blog post.