Today marks 2 years since chemo ended. I remember the stark baldness, no eyebrows and only a dozen or so remaining eye lashes. I remember being so bloated, pale and weak. It’s taken me almost the whole 2 years to start feeling like my old self again and not just because of the hair. Only in the last month have I been able to stay up much past 9 pm and that’s hit and miss at best. I’m finally feeling a renewed sense of energy but it really last taken this long.
Growing our hair back is an awkward process. I promised an update so, here we go…
One year ago in February, I walked the streets of Paris sticking out like a sore thumb. Not because of my senior citizen hairdo – it was the checkered jacket.Pardon-maaaa, who knew all French women wear only plain black coats and tall black boots. No one sent me the memo.
By March (13 months post chemo) my hair was getting longer and had nice body. As a matter of fact, I did finally ditch this sweater that’s in half of the photos taken of me in the past two years!
Back view – I was loving the way it took color (the natural state is black with touches of grey.)
14 months post chemo. Above last Easter weekend. Hair was getting to that difficult stage again, not short, not long. Welcome back headbands.
15 months post chemo in May, I was starting to love the length and style of my hair. It was long enough to straighten and do things with but still held a nice wavy body.
16 months post chemo
from the back again. Feeling fine!
By mid summer, about 18 months out, I started noticing that my hair was feeling very dried out and over processed. It got a little too reddish as you can see above. I started getting very interested in the “No Poo*” movement and switched to sulfate free shampoo (more on this another post.) *an alternative movement where women wash their hair with baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo thereby returning natural shine, balance and strength to one’s hair.
19 months with a very livable style albeit a little messy – probably should have kept a few more layers but I was a bit obsessed with growing it out. Got the color rebalanced and felt more natural.
Around 20 months I was to a length that would have been normal for me. It was fun to play with but still too short to put up or do much with. I kept getting trims and color and enjoyed wearing it straightened or natural with the wave that was left.
This was the golden time for me – between 21 and 22 months post chemo I finally felt back in love with my hair. It was the first time I could look at photos and feel happy. I looked more and more like my old healthy self and it made me so glad. Updos and ponytails were almost a reality. I found a knock-off “Wen” cleansing conditioner product at Sally Beauty Supply called “Hair One.” My hair started feeling so much more healthy and soft. Things were falling more and more into place.
It was a little puffy but so what! It was almost long enough…
For a claw!!! Thanksgiving Day 22 months post chemoI was able to put it up for the first time. I was thrilled beyond belief! I’m sure those clips are a fashion no-no but again, I was so happy, I didn’t care!
23 months post chemo on New Year’s Eve and ponytails were becoming more and more my normal style. Throughout this regrowth process, I have always been protective over the length of my bangs to a fault so that my hair has looked a bit sloppy and overgrown, but those who walk this road understand. My hairdresser knows how important it is to me to keep the bangs long – nothing says “Post chemo hair” like those impossibly short bangs we get!
And my most current photo taken in January this year, almost 24 months post chemo. I had styled it with the straightener for a party. I’ll get some up to the moment shots of how it looks down on a regular day in a while. The only on going issue I’ve had with it beside the dryness were the 2 spots where growth has been the slowest – at the temples. Just now – in the last month – they are starting to finally fill in. Bangs help hide those spots.
So there you have it – a epic post on hair regrowth. I know we have a lot more serious survivor issues, but I also know how difficult and long this regrowing phase can be. If you are waiting for your hair to come back, I hope you are encouraged. It will come!