Hair Loss-Medicine Wheel-mind
Hair Loss (The "Mind" of the Medicine Wheel)

Medicine WheelSpritualPhysicalEmotionalMental

  1. Preparing to deal with others and how they treat you
  2. Hair is one of the ways we demonstrate our femininity or masculinity. Many cancer patients say that when they lost their hair, they felt that they lost part of their identity. Others are more concerned with how their hair loss may affect their children or partner. You may try to set aside some time to talk through your entire treatment and the likely side effects with your loved ones before it begins. This process may help both you and them prepare for the side effects of treatment.

    A computer program is being tested to help cancer patients see what they may look like without hair and to decide how they want to deal with the possible hair thinning or hair loss. This program shows you want you would look like with different hair styles (for wigs) or how you maylook bald. For more information about the computerized hair program, you can find the article by Elizabeth L. McGarvey and others, in Psycho-- Oncology. 19(7):756--66, 2010 Jul. To date, this program has not been commercially marketed.

    Once you become more comfortable with the possibility of baldness, it will help you deal with others who may be surprised or rude. Some people use humor, others prepare a list of possible responses to others' surprise at seeing them bald.

    Thunderhand Joe
    (Apache)
    Dx 1990 Pancreas Cancer



    "I finally lost all my hair and I walk into my outpatient therapy. Now mind you these people saw me walking into the City of Hope with long hair. Saw me walk into the City of Hope with short hair. Now they're seeing me walk into the City of Hope with no hair, and I got pissed off. I come in and I says, "don't [mess] with me, don't [mess] with me, . . . . . I am having a bad hair day. I've got just one hair and I can't do a thing with it." [Humor] was my attitude. I laughed through the whole thing."

    to play Video Vignette - click audio only


    Among the reasons why losing hair is uncomfortable for so many people is that you repeatedly have to explain to both people you know well and those you barely know, that you are being treated for cancer. It is a constant reminder and focus on the disease, rather than on you as a person. It is frustrating at times and other times rewarding at how open and accepting some friends and families are throughout this experience.

  3. Understanding hair will grow back
  4. If you have lost your hair due to chemo, it is important to know that your hair almost always grows back. It may change in color or texture. You may be without hair for 6 months to a year, but the hair loss is a temporary condition. It is frustrating and at times annoying, but temporary.

    For radiation patients, if the radiation dose was high to your head, the hair most likely will not grow back in that area of your scalp. You may need a wig or to change your hairstyle to cover the area.

    "It seems the tribes in this area have no specific beliefs relative to hair loss. Some wear a scarf, wig, or go about bald. Hair loss is acceptable with the knowledge the hair will grow back."



    Thunderhand Joe
    (Apache)
    Dx 1990 Pancreas Cancer



    "Three years later, I've got my health, my hair back, and I'm doing concerts again. I never stopped that, actually, I only got my hair back. I guess, just keep your faith, keep your strength, laugh a lot, and go on continue on your road."

    to play Video Vignette - click audio only




top of page