Emma B
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Siggy the wiggy

Emma B
Posted by
14 Oct 2016

After my first wig didn't hit the spot, I bought a real hair wig and it was perfect

When I found out I was going to lose my hair with my chemotherapy treatment, I was surprised by how calm I felt.  As a girl in my early (!) thirties, appearance is important to me, I have cupboards full of makeup and hair products, wardrobes full of clothes and overflowing shoe racks.  I think the calmness was down to the fact that losing my hair didn’t come as a surprise, it’s one of the visible changes you can see in a cancer patient and you expect that it will happen.  I think what surprised me more is when I found out that not everyone having chemotherapy will lose their hair.  The initial thought I remember is wondering what I would look like, is my head a funny shape, will my ears stick out, but I didn’t dwell on it too much.  What surprised me most is that my biggest paranoia, my forehead, that I usually cover with a fringe, didn’t even enter my mind.


I decided to have my hair cropped soon after.  I have a hairdresser that I trust and I asked her to just cut it off!  I was actually really happy with the results and it felt good to take that little bit of control back.  I was also pleased to have the opportunity to donate my hair to the Princess Trust who make wigs for children, so something good could come out of my hair loss.  My new crop was totally different for me and I was actually quite excited to style it and received lots of lush compliments for how much I suited it.  It was a shame it was only temporary, but made me feel quite relaxed about what I could do with my hair when it starts to come back in.


Shortly after, I went to Maggie’s Centre’s Talking Heads workshop.  There were ladies there at different stages of their treatment and we were all encouraged to discuss how we felt and open up to each other.  That was a tough experience for me because some of the ladies were really emotional and it was awful to see them getting upset and coming to terms with both their diagnosis and their hair loss.  It actually got me thinking, am I really ok about the situation?  Was I kidding myself and trying to keep the emotions in? I could honestly say that when I had a tear in that session it was for the lady who couldn’t talk about her experiences without her lip wobbling and I genuinely felt ok.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew it might not always feel like this.  I had a long way to go and my hair was only a part of that.  


The session was great, I loved being able to interact with others facing similar challenges, as well as getting advice on how to tie scarves, information about what to expect when our hair does fall out and suggesting products and suppliers that might be useful.  I was told how quickly hair comes back in once treatment is finished and whilst that didn’t mean much at the time, it was comforting later on in my treatment. I left the session feeling uplifted having had the opportunity to share my experience and hear the stories and feelings of others.


When I got my wig voucher, I went to the first place on the list and picked up a short synthetic wig, a similar colour and style of my hair currently.  I wasn’t keen on the longer styles, with the layers and cuts I thought they were quite old fashioned.  My hair was still holding strong at the minute, so the wig would stay in the box for a bit yet.


When my hair started to come out, the texture changed and I started to look like a balding man who was clinging on to his combover. I was also leaving it everywhere I went, on pillows, clothes, friend’s shoulders!  I decided  it was time to shave it off.  I was an inpatient at the time and one of the nurses offered to get some clippers and do it for me.  I still didn’t shed a tear for it, at this point I was actually pleased to get rid.   I think when you’re faced with everything else that you have to adjust to, the hair loss can sometimes take a back seat.  It was harder for Nathan to watch, seeing the nurse shaving my head was just a reminder of what I was going through and what was yet to come.


It was after my time in ICU and I’d been at home a few weeks when I wore my wig for the first time.  It was my friend’s engagement party and although I wasn’t feeling completely well yet, I really wanted to be there.  I’d bought a new dress that hid my swollen tummy and I was putting some makeup on for the first time in ages.  When I put my wig on, it just didn’t look like me and didn’t make me feel good.  Don’t get me wrong, it was ok and of course it was better than a stubbled scalp which screamed cancer patient, but it just didn’t lift me in the way I was expecting.  I had a great time seeing my friends and being out and about but it got me thinking about whether I should’ve tried to find a longer hair wig that was like my hair before I knew about the Leukaemia.


At around the same time, my work colleagues had done a whip-round for me a special Christmas present, with one of them agreeing to shave off his pretty impressive beard for donations.  When they asked me what I wanted with the money, I decided on a new long wig.  I’d heard of an initiative called My New Hair which was started by Trevor Sorbie when his sister faced hair loss and he wasn’t impressed with the choice out there.  I made some enquiries and found they did these real hair wigs at Tribeca in East Boldon, which wasn’t far and I decided to go for it.


I went for my first appointment and tried a long hair wig on, with it being real hair it looked so natural and I fell in love immediately.  I showed him a picture of my hair before and we talked a little bit about what I wanted, such as the option to have a root dyed in to give it an authentic look.  He told me they style and colour them in the salon and he explained that real hair wigs can be made up of a lot of different hair types so it is really important to have them styled by a specialist that knows what they’re doing.  The ones in stock weren’t my colour or length so he ordered one in for me.


When my wig arrived, the stylist cut and styled it on my head, it felt like I was just at the hairdressers, I was fascinated watching in the mirror.  I’d gone with the plan of having some of the length cut off but I’d fallen in love with the swish around my shoulders so I decided to keep it long. When I looked in the mirror, I saw me before cancer.  It was unbelieveable how it made me feel and whilst my appearance had taken a backseat to everything else going on, sitting here looking in the mirror, just made me feel lighter and happy.  


As I had gone for such a long length, the wig was quite expensive but with the money I’d received from my work colleagues, there wasn’t a lot I had to add.  I was also really happy with the quality so I could see what I was paying for.


I was looking forward to Nathan coming home from work to see it and when he did I noticed something that I hadn’t realised until now.  He didn’t look at me with sadness and concern in his eyes like he had been.  He looked at me like he used to, like he was actually looking at me again and not Emma with Leukaemia.  I hadn’t even realised that he had until now.  That moment made the wig worth the expense and made me love her even more!


I named her Siggy (the wiggy), I felt it was appropriate that she had a name.  I ordered a polystyrene head with a long neck to keep her on and I’d purchased some fancy shampoo and conditioner for washing her.  This was how my wig should feel and I was so happy that I’d decided to get it, it’s perfect and I would recommend them to anyone.

My advice when you’re faced with hair loss is whilst being prepared is really important ready for when you do lose your hair, don’t be afraid to take a bit of time out to try options.  I am not personally a scarf wearer, but lots of women are.  Make sure you think about what colours you suit around your face, consider what is really important to you and your style.  No matter how you feel about hair loss, there will be times when you’ll want to look your best and, if like me, your appearance can sometimes be your armour, you will want to be able to turn it on when you need it most.

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