A woman with a mohawk hairstyle and wearing a haircutting cape smiles brightly as her hair flies away.

Taking Control Over Losing My Hair

The Editorial Team at BladderCancer.net is highlighting people in the bladder cancer community. We talked to Liz who shares about how she took control over losing her hair before starting chemo treatments for bladder cancer.

Editorial Team: What, if anything, led to your decision to change your hair?
Liz: During my first office visit with my oncologist, he said that since I had been diagnosed at Stage IV with a T4 tumor, even though it had been removed and my stoma placed, the chemo cocktail I was going to be on was one of the strongest they were allowed to give.

We wanted to make sure we annihilated anything that may have been left inside post-op.

Losing my hair was inevitable

I was definitely going to lose my hair. “No doubt,” he said. As I had my surgery prior to chemo and complications from that, I had already been institutionalized for 2 months between the hospital and rehab and I was already losing hair from all of that.

I was always taught that hair is “just hair” so I knew it would grow back and I had no qualms about getting rid of it. I did not associate my femininity with my hair or my internal organs which were removed with my surgery.

Inviting friends to shave off my hair

My stylist happens to be a distant cousin who owns her own salon. I called her and we made an appointment a couple days before I started chemo and we made a big deal out of it. I invited a bunch of friends and several were able to make it – fairly last minute.

My cousin gave me a Mohawk and spiked it up, then my friends were able to shave the Mohawk off. We ordered food, hung out, laughed and had an overall great time.

Liz is wearing a barber's cape with her hair spiked into a mohawk

It was a great mood booster prior to starting chemo. When my doctor told me I’d definitely lose my hair, I thought – there’s not much in my life right now that I can control. I can’t control that I’ll lose my hair, but I can control HOW I lose it. For me, it was a way for me to take some of my power back.

Do not be ashamed of your story

Editorial Team: Anything else you’d like to add?
Liz: I would really like people to know that speaking out and sharing your story after a journey through bladder cancer is not only important for awareness, it is important for healing and moving on.

For some reason, there seems to be shame or secrecy associated with this disease when there really should be NONE.

The more that you talk about what you go through, the less power it has over your life, the freer you become, the more others learn about this (which can in turn prevent others from being diagnosed later) and the more you are able to move forward into survivorship.

Do not hide from your story. When you do, you give the disease the power and it doesn’t deserve it.

Read Liz's Bladder Cancer Story: Misdiagnosed at the ER

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