Samantha F.
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How to cope with hair loss when you have cancer

Samantha F.
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Updated 21 May 2019

Bloodwise Ambassador Samantha Farr explains how she coped with the emotional impact of losing her hair and shares her tips for regrowing your hair after chemotherapy

Samantha Farr runs her hands through her hair

When I saw it coming out in clumps and strands in the shower, I was devastated

I lost my hair during my battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. I didn’t just lose it once though. Because I relapsed, I lost it twice.

I’ve always had long thick hair, so when I saw it coming out in clumps and strands in the shower, I was devastated. Not only was I losing my hair but my eyebrows and eyelashes as well.

It didn’t change who I was. I was still me with or without hair

I tried to wait as long as possible before shaving my head. I finally did so just after I’d finished my first six months of chemotherapy. As tough as it was for me, it was probably harder for my family. When I shaved my head, it was an extremely emotional day and, of course, I cried. It was a shock to the system but it didn’t change who I was. I was still me with or without hair.

Samantha Farr pictured after she'd lost her hair to chemotherapy

I wore a few wigs while my hair was growing back. I felt like me again and I had my little security blanket back. But, ultimately, wearing wigs didn’t help my hair grow.

Eventually, it did grow back. But the cancer came back as well. My second round of chemotherapy was a lot more intense, so I lost my hair way quicker than I had the first time. One morning, I woke up in hospital and was shocked by the clumps all on my pillow and in my bed. As soon as I got home, I knew it was time to shave it off again. It was hard, but I knew it was going to grow back.

It’s now been about three-and-a-half years since I finished treatment and my hair is back and long again. My plan is to keep growing and keep it as healthy as possible then I would love to be able to donate it to the Little Princess Trust.

How to encourage post-chemo hair growth

 

1. Use vitamins and hair volume supplements

I left it about three/four months after finishing chemo before I started taking vitamins A, D and C. A couple of people recommended these tablets because they help your hair recover and they're also really good for you. But if you’re still in treatment or recovering from treatment, speak to your consultant before taking any supplements.

2. Don’t over wash your hair

It may seem a little strange, but wash it as little as possible – two to three times a week is the best. And dry shampoo will be your best friend.

Samantha Farr pictured with long hair

3. Trim your new hair

When my hair first started coming back, I didn’t want to cut it because I was way too nervous for anyone to touch it. I did eventually get a trim because it was starting to resemble a mullet, and no-one wants to see that. The best thing you can do is go for regular trims to cut off the split ends. It’ll make it look so much tidier and you will feel so much better for it.

4. Oil is your best friend

Every few days, I would massage my head with oil. I’d mainly use castor oil because you can also use this on your eyebrows and eyelashes as well. It worked a treat. It increases the movement of blood to your scalp so helps stimulate growth. It also leaves your head feeling very soft!

5. Avoid straighteners

When you notice your hair getting longer, you may want to try to straighten or curl it. But try not to – you could really damage it.

My hair came back wavy and I was so tempted to buy some of those tiny straighteners. But I resisted and it was one of the best things I did. You really don’t want to use any harsh products on your hair until it’s grown to a point you're happy with it.

Some stages of hair growth can be very frustrating. At some of the awkward stages before it had properly grown back, I’d get frustrated and want to shave it all off and start again.

It’ll take a long while for your hair to get where you want it to be, but be patient – it will get there.

 

Read our information and support for people living with or affected by blood cancer