Chemo caps and haircuts

Impending hair loss from my chemo is not a new concern. It’s just that until now I’ve been occupied with more immediate concerns; hair loss was to come at some point in the future.

Well, while I’ve been quietly celebrating the fact that I’ve felt absolutely normal since Saturday night or Sunday, the future has arrived. Now I’ve begun stressing over the hair loss thing. Today is Day 14 since my chemo, and according to many, many sources on the Internet, it’s the day my hair will start falling out.

So I’m sitting here, trying not to tug at my hair too often to see if it’s coming loose. I imagine that my scalp feels somehow different. Maybe a little itchy? A gentle scratch. A tug. Nope, nothing yet.

Some reports say it comes out suddenly, in chunks. Some say it just thins gradually into a ragged, patchy mess. And every reputable site indicates it varies widely from person to person, drug to drug, dose to dose. Well, that narrows it down …

I’m prepared. Sort of. I have a couple of knit caps that I think I’ll be reasonably happy wearing. Plus ideas for more. My daughter-in-law suggested a buff (she does fitness training and is familiar with the products). Turns out the company Buff makes the things in hundreds of colors and patterns for every conceivable taste and need. And they advertise something like 12 different ways to wear a buff — several of them similar to the knit “cancer caps” available elsewhere and offering full coverage for bald heads. Unlike chemo caps, however, which seem designed mostly for women who want street or office wear and come mostly in solid colors, buffs go crazy with color and pattern. I ordered one in a bright watercolor print featuring blues, pinks, and purples that will go with a lot of my shirts. I think the look will work for me because I rarely do street wear; I opt for the casual comfort of sports and outdoor wear, which is almost de rigueur in Colorado anyway.

So if you’re stumped for a chemo cap you like, consider a buff (the original Buff long style, or similar from other companies). Lots more colors and patterns to choose from and a more casual look. And the soft, stretchy knit fabric is smooth and seamless.

Another idea I’ve looked at: surgical scrub caps. Lots of bright colors and patterns there too. Just not sure if they’d be as soft as some cancer patients need for their tender scalps.

Anyway, I’ve bought all I can afford at the moment. The real dilemma: When will my hair start falling out and how bad/fast will it be? The minute I know for sure it’s coming out bigtime, I’m prepared to go for a buzz cut and be done with it. But I don’t want to make that leap before … on the off chance that it might not come out, or might not all come out. Or something. But I have a long-standing appointment with the eye doctor on Monday, and my second round of chemo is Tuesday, after which it could be a week to 10 days before I feel like trekking to the hairdresser. (My DIL has offered to do it; there’s another decision to make.) So it seems I have to do it before Monday, or be prepared to wait another two weeks.

Yes, I should be taking full advantage of feeling well this week, getting to the supermarket, etc. And I will. But hanging over it all is this hair thing. And having decided weeks ago to just get it buzzed “when the time comes” turns out to have been no decision at all.



17 thoughts on “Chemo caps and haircuts

  1. disperser Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 2:05 pm MDT

    If it ever happens to me, I plan to save it so I can put it in soup bowls when I eat out.

  2. zenzalei Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 3:42 pm MDT

    I had never heard of Buffs, but they look interesting and versatile. I like the one you linked to.

    • PiedType Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 4:24 pm MDT

      I first heard of them when the TV show “Survivor” started, but had long forgotten about them. I like the one I linked to too; I need one in blues and greens. The versatility is pretty amazing; I’ve figured about three ways I can wear one that will give me full coverage and can always switch to the others in the future. My DIL loves them for workouts and has several. I should have mentioned above that all display a fairly prominent Buff logo, but it’s easily overlooked in the busier patterns. All are approximately $20-25 each, but occasionally somebody will be selling the last of a popular pattern and will jack up the price. Be alert.

      I got the one called “Watercolor.”

  3. NRTucker Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 6:37 pm MDT

    You might check out Turtle Fur. My daughter had great success with those caps. They remained on her head all night.

    • PiedType Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 7:19 pm MDT

      Well now I’m in trouble. There’s a multi-color floral print over there that I love. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • PiedType Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 9:43 pm MDT

        P.S. I bought it. Your fault. That and the appeal of a name like Turtle Fur, which is well nigh irresistible.

        • PiedType Friday, July 10, 2015 / 9:49 pm MDT

          Got the Turtle Fur buff and some readers might be interested to know it’s a little lighter weight than the Buff brand buff I got and therefore cooler. It has a seam (Buff brand is seamless). The brand name is a sewn-on tag rather than printed as part of the design. And it’s a few dollars cheaper than the Buff.

  4. philosophermouseofthehedge Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 7:08 pm MDT

    I never knew what they were called. I do like all the color choices.
    There’s a cottage industry for scrub caps by a wife of a guy that was in med school with my kid. They are really pretty, but I’ll ask about the softness – you are so right and I never thought of that.
    Glad you are feeling good.
    (Disperser has the funniest idea!)

    • PiedType Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 7:34 pm MDT

      I thought the scrub caps were a great idea until I remembered scrubs fabric. As I recall, durability is usually the goal, not softness. There are liners that patients can put under caps, but that sounds hot to me. Maybe less of a problem in winter. Most of the cancer-specific caps I’ve seen are very soft, usually knit, for maximum comfort.

      • philosophermouseofthehedge Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 7:39 pm MDT

        I’ll check with my daughter(she’s out of spot right now on vacation) – she has a couple of those scrub caps and knows the seamstress. I’d be concerned about getting hot, too…you’d think someone would have a cotton line of special caps…(hmmm, must check into that small business potential…the animal shelter can just use so many blankies and beds I’ve been making…..caps you can make anywhere – like in the mts…)

        • PiedType Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 8:31 pm MDT

          The two knit caps I bought are unbelievably soft and lightweight. The buff is very smooth and soft but might prove to be a bit warmer, if only because of the additional fabric involved.

        • PiedType Tuesday, July 07, 2015 / 8:37 pm MDT

          Lots of folks on Etsy are marketing a variety of caps. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking around over there.

  5. philosophermouseofthehedge Tuesday, October 27, 2015 / 4:13 pm MDT

    Just ran back by for this info. My niece in Ft Collins has been diagnosed with a small tumor on her rt. frontal lobe, one on her lung, and one on her liver. Starts radiation this week, then chemo – and you know the drill.
    Of all the kids – she’s the one who has always been concerned about the environment, eat right, and started teaching yoga a couple of years ago.( even to old people and at nursing homes). Pretty much of a shock as she’d just felt a little off/bad for a couple of weeks. Arrrrrgh.
    Will catch up with recent your posts shortly – nuts around here even with sick German, dumb storm, and the usual insanity (which you would think I would be used to by now) Thanks

    • PiedType Tuesday, October 27, 2015 / 4:56 pm MDT

      Oh Phil, I’m sorry to hear that. And what a shock finding three separate tumors at the outset. Some wonderful new drugs and treatments have come on line in the last ten years so there’s plenty of reason for optimism. And her good physical condition will serve her well. I’ll be sending good thoughts your way and hers. (And the German’s, too)

      • philosophermouseofthehedge Wednesday, October 28, 2015 / 7:30 am MDT

        Quite a shock.She’d had stomach pains for a couple of weeks and went to a doctor who didn’t see anything but she felt so bad she went back.
        She’s naturally thin so I’m worried about her weight (my sister in law was the same way and she got to thin a strong wind would blow her away.
        This is the child who’s always seemed to have a sense of peace around her although she’s had some tough times. They seem to be moving aggressively so we are hoping. Thanks.

"You don’t have to say everything to say something." ~Beth Moore

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