When it seemed like I was already carefree – lung cancer stable, bladder unremarkable, bunion under control – I got this wild-haired notion to grow my hair and recapture my long-lost youth. Time came when the hair was long enough to be pulled away from my face and neck and fashioned into a tiny Asian bun. I got all excited! I made a mad dash to the dollar store and bought the smallest black banana clip that matched my dyed ebony hair. The project was going great guns! Or so I thought.
One day while towel drying my hair after a shower, I noticed a clump of tresses on my fingertips. The same thing happened in the days that followed. I was aghast. I had visions of my head becoming as smooth and as shiny as a billiard ball.
True to character, I immediately blamed my falling hair to cancer. Of course, what else would I blame? Cancer has always been my go-to guy in the blame game.
Tarceva came to mind. When I was on Tarceva 7 years ago, that wonder drug devoured 80% of the malignant tumor in the bottom of my left lung within 100 days. Awesome! But it’s side effect transformed my hair into the equivalent of steel wool. I formed a theory about the situation at hand: Maybe Tarceva’s bad effect on my hair is now in the roots. I agree, the theory is rather farfetched. Tagrisso came next. Could the hair loss be a side effect of Tagrisso and is just now manifesting itself after 2 years? Hey, the hyperglycemia side effect of the clinical trial drug CO-1686 showed up on me after 4 months. Okay, 24 months is a stretch. Unconvinced by the theories of the blame game, I dug deep into my memory bank.
The hairy experience brought back hair loss memories from my late husband Tom, the first in the widowhood series. Baldness ran among the males in Tom’s family. His youngest brother’s head became as smooth and as shiny as a bowling bowl shortly after age 20, according to my late mother-in-law, who had a proclivity for high drama. Tom, proud of his head full of dishwater blond hair at 40, thought he had already beaten the baldness odds so when he noticed substantial strands of hair caught on his comb, he immediately saw his primary care physician, who in turn, referred him to a specialist. The specialist curled his eyebrows and nodded slowly as he indulged Tom’s recitation of his hair loss blues. Then came the specialist’s turn to speak. He gave Tom the name of the hair loss malady, the Greek word “Alopekia.” Bald-headed Jesus! Exclaimed Tom, an irreverent ex-seminarian. What does that word mean? The good specialist doctor deadpanned and said, It means you’re losing your hair.
The memory of Tom’s hair loss diagnosis failed to satisfy my curiosity so I visited my alma mater Google University to find more authoritative pronouncements. Sure enough! All sorts of hair loss information from causes to prevention to state-of-the-art treatment popped up. Now we are talking! I selected a couple of sensible informational items on preventing or treating hair loss. Here they are:
LASER COMBS. I had never heard of laser combs but they are state of the art. In fact the laser comb is the only hair loss treatment to have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. A study found a significant increase in hair density in men after 26 weeks of applying a laser comb across the scalp 3 times a week. Something about the antioxidant effect of the laser on hair follicles make the improvement happen.
I rushed to the online stores to check the laser combs out. I found they are shaped like headbands and cost anywhere from $300 to $1000. What hair-raising prices! The ad photographs show men and women modelling the laser combs.
AVOID HAIRSTYLES THAT PULL THE HAIR AWAY FROM THE FACE. Say what? That was exactly what I wanted to do – pull my hair away from my face – to gently erase the fine wrinkles on my face. Which brings back another set of hair memories. When I was around 4 or 5 years old, I disliked combing my hair for no special reason except that I was able to have things my way. One day my grandmother caught me, doused coconut oil on my scalp, untangled my hair, pulled them in a pony tail, and tied it with a strip of rag. It was so tight it took me a while to blink my eyes. Henceforth my grandmother and I switched to the staring mode.
I have begun the long-hair project abandonment. I’ll just keep the fine hair short and loose and let it all hang out.