Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – Preparing for my Aplastic Anemia Treatment

Dear Fellow Warriors,

My bone marrow transplant is scheduled!  Thursday, September 22nd, I will receive my new immune system.  I will be admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Friday, September 16th to begin my pre-treatment regimen of chemotherapy, ATG, and radiation.  The good news is that the toxic dose of drugs that will be administered to me to kill off what’s left of my old, crappy immune system will be milder than that which is given to patients with malignant diseases (Leukemia, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, etc).  However, I am to have two days worth of a common chemotherapy drug called Cytoxan.  Cytoxan is actually a carcinogen (go figure) and is commonly used to combat cancers of all kinds.  The major side effect of Cytoxan, unlike the other chemo drugs I will be given, is that it causes hair loss.

Until early last week, my doctors were wavering as to which pre-treatment drug protocol I would be administered.  My main hematological oncologist wasn’t sure if I would, in fact, lose my hair completely.  I was eager to know for sure, as I had considered cutting it all off before being admitted and donating the cut hair to Locks of Love – a wonderful organization that creates wigs from donated hair for young patients who have suffered hair loss due to cancer or congenital conditions that cause alopecia.  By Tuesday, the drug regimen was decided.  I spoke with my doctor two days later and asked him once and for all if my hair would fall out.  This time he said yes.

With the hair loss confirmed, I decided to go for it and cut it all off.  I made an appointment at my salon, Dej, and called one of my closest friends and asked her to come with me for moral support.  So, this past Saturday, I said goodbye to over twelve inches of hair and am now sporting a pixie cut.  I figure once it really starts to fall out en masse, I will have the hospital help me shave it off completely.

It was important to me that I not simply allow my long hair to start falling out in clumps at the hospital.  I needed to take control a bit and take the first step towards the inevitable by my own volition.  I figured that cutting it really short a few weeks before admission to the hospital would get me used to the notion that my appearance is going to dramatically change.  I only have about 2-3 inches left on my head now, so bald doesn’t seem quite so extreme by comparison.  It was also important that I do the major cut, not the hairdresser.  I wanted to feel as though this decision was mine and that if anyone was going to cut off all my hair, it was going to be me.  Therefore, I was the one who held the shears and took off nearly two years worth of growth.

Losing one’s hair is a personal, emotional experience.  Yes, it will grow back.  Yes, it’s not as important as getting well.  I understand those truths, I really do.  BUT – my hair was a symbol to me of self-expression and the way in which I imagined the world viewed me.  It signified certain ideals of feminine beauty that I upheld.  It also represented health.  As I have mentioned before, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see a sick person.  Now, without the protective helmet of my hair, I can no longer deny that I have a disease.  My illness affects me in a deeply emotional and physical way, and the loss of my hair is a dramatic, tangible representation that my body is no longer a product of my conscious will (if it ever was).

I now have the shortest haircut I’ve ever had.  It is a big change, but I’m slowly getting used to it.  Friends and family are supportive, of course, and I am lucky to have them as morale boosters.  I am trying not to get too attached to the style, though – as I will be bald in about 3-4 weeks.  The good news is that once my hair starts growing back (the information is varied as to re-growth time), I should be back in this pixie cut only a few short months later.  And at that point, I will be well on my way to recovery.  When that happens, my short hair will be representative of health and renewal, rather than illness and disease.  Now that’s something to cheer about!

Now for a Photo Diary of my haircut!!

Aplastic Anemia Blog - Before


Aplastic Anemia Blog - Cutting

Cutting Off My Own Hair

Aplastic Anemia - First

First Cut

Aplastic Anemia Blog - Nearly

Nearly There

Aplastic Anemia Blog - With

Holding My Cut Hair Before Sending to Locks of Love

Aplastic Anemia Blog - After



9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Lawrence
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 16:37:52

    OMG, I LOVE it! It looks so cute! I’ve always wanted to have a short haircut like this but was always too afraid to do it. It looks REALLY good on you and your eyes just pop! Good for you for taking control of the whole situation and donating your hair. Honestly, I think it looks fabulous. 🙂


  2. Edgar Cayago
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 16:55:53

    looks cute – like mia farrow


  3. Belinda
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 17:21:13

    You look so dang good with that pixie do! You have all the right features for it– so high fashion. Rooting for you in the coming week. Almost there sugar.


  4. Karen
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 18:22:21

    The short hair really does look great on you, and your eyes are amazing. I can sure relate to how strange it feels to have it short. Nine months ago I was in the same position. Congratulations on having your date set!


  5. Diana S.
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 09:47:39

    My admiration for you is infinite. Love the haircut! And I’m so proud of you for donating your hair… you’re hair is going to make someone very happy 🙂


  6. Mike H
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 11:27:39

    Wow – it actually is quite stunning!


  7. Dawnzo
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 16:37:35

    Your bone structure is incredible and the short hair only accentuates it! Looking FIERCE! Can’t wait to see you feeling fierce as well. ❤


  8. galadrielfaye
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 10:25:42

    Your new haircut really shows off your amazing bone structure and gorgeous eyes. You look wow! Big hugs.


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