Struggling with hair growth? I used to as well, especially after my cancer experience. When I was 19 years old I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer that attacks the lymphatic system (aka immune system) in the body. I was just a few weeks shy of turning 20, and this is the last thing that I wanted to hear as a young lady. After learning that I was going to lose my hair from treatment, I panicked because my hair identified me (as it typically does with a lot of women). I was always known as the girl with the most beautiful curls, and now there was no guarantee that my hair would ever be the same. It was an important part of me, and my stomach turned at the thought of watching it all fall out. I wanted to list a timeline of everything up until this day (it has been almost three years since I have been cancer free). FYI, I NEVER anticipated to write a blog post about this when I was undergoing treatment, let alone talk about it. I tried my best to find photos to show.
About a week before my surgery:
September 25, 2017 – I cut off a majority of my hair to donate.
September 26, 2017 – I had my first chemotherapy treatment. I was anticipating to wake up the next day without all of my hair.
October 10, 2017 – I was scheduled for my second treatment. This is when my hair started to slowly fall out. It started when I would touch it, then it progressed and got so bad that there was constantly a trail left on my pillowcase and clothes. I did not wash my hair for a week and tried to always wear a cap because I had a fear that it would all melt or blow off. Yes, a little irrational, but if you actually saw what I was going through or heard of stories you would probably also think the same.
October 17, 2017 – I shaved off all of my hair. I could not take it any longer. I was going to meet my friend for lunch, but insisted that we stopped at a local barber to get all of my hair shaved off. “How much is a buzz cut? I need to get one.” Do not let these smiles fool you, I cried a lot that night.
A week later I had my next treatment, and then my hair continued to fall out even with my stubbles. At this point, it was actually hurting my head. My roots were inflamed and sensitive and anytime anything touched my scalp, I would get an instant headache. I was starting to bald more on the top of my scalp. And yes, I owned it when I was outside. I did not really care what others thought at this point. I just did whatever made me comfortable. Note: I never purchased a wig.
I got two other buzzcuts after my initial one during treatment. My final one was in December right around Christmas. After my sixth treatment, I was almost completely bald, and my brows and lashes started to also fall our rapidly. I tried to use castor oil to stop the process, but the chemotherapy was too toxic to banter off.
January 3, 2018 – Treatment ended.
One week later, and nothing happened.
February 2, 2018 – my hair slowly started to fill in. Old hair that did not fall out from chemotherapy grew slightly longer. Throughout the while process, the tips of my hair had very different texture and grooves. My scalp started to hurt again once the hair started to grow back in.
March 1, 2018 – I was still experiencing baldness, but my scalp was starting to fill in more.
March 31/ April 18, 2018 – My hair was thin, but still filling in.
May 6, 2018 – Starting to fill in more! Got my first hair cut post treatment. It was just to shape my hair.
June 9, 2018 – Getting a little longer.
June 24, 2018 – getting curly!
August 25, 2018 – More curls.
November 11, 2018 – CRAZY poof!
December 26, 2018 – Longer!
January 5, 2019 – Happy New Year + 1 Year out!
I got my second real haircut in March 2019, about a year after my shaping trim.
Here are some photos for the remaining of the year of 2019/ two years post chemotherapy:
Now for three years at 2020, from most recent to the past.
What I learned:
This will not last forever! I thought that my hair would never grow back. After treatment, like the week after, I would try everything to help my hair grow back. Even biotin. Nothing was working because it was not my hair’s time yet. Actually, I take that back. I would massage castor oil on my scalp, but this would only help the fray thin hair just get longer. It was not fixing the issue of the chemotherapy-induced alopecia.
What I saw actually help my hair grow faster:
The main thing was a balanced diet. I have to say, as soon as I started to incorporate meat into my diet on a regular basis, my hair started to rapidly grow. This is a staple because there are certain nutrients, like ferritin, in the protein of the meat that aid growth and repair of the new hair follicles. Ferritin is stored iron that helps the hair growth.
Additionally, the iron found in meat has more heme to it (as opposed to 100% non-heme in plants). Heme iron is more easily absorbable by the body than non-heme, and our human bodies absorb heme better. It is important to take note that dark meats have more heme in them. According to my research, clams have the highest. I in fact ate a lot of chicken liver and beef to help. A pro tip: eat vitamin c rich foods to help with the absorption of iron. I had to actually start taking an iron supplement to help with my deficiencies. This is the one my nutritionist put me on.
Okay! Back to hair business.
Something else that I noticed that helped was collagen peptides.
GIVE IT TIME AND BE PATIENT!
If you are eating a balanced diet and doing everything right, then all you have to do is wait. Your hair will grow back. It might not grow back the way that you want it to, but just remember how far you have come.
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