Sharing her experience became a mission for Australian one cancer sufferer. We are delighted to share her story, along with her great list of tips and coping mechanisms.
Briony’s story starts with a cancer diagnosis, to which her first question to the doctor was “Will my hair fall out?” She was quickly reassured by the medic that her hair would return, but she goes on to describe the prospect of hair loss as the single thing that upset her the most about the news she had been given. A fact she recognizes as crazy given the very real threat to her life… but all too common a reaction.
With her highly supportive sister she planned a series of strategies aimed at helping her meet the challenges as they arose. The first thing was to find a better place around the hair loss, for which they came up with a mantra: “The treatment is working.” The aim was for Briony to greet every lost strand with the certain knowledge that this was a sign the chemotherapy was doing its thing and attacking the cancer cells, with the unfortunate hair a casualty of that war.
As so many of us do in times of high stress, the pair, with Mum in tow, hit the shops. Purchasing a selection of cute headscarves, headbands, and wigs. The wig, in particular, was daunting for Briony. Until she found one that matched her hair and color, one she loved and enjoyed wearing. Superheroes wear capes she told herself, and some wear headscarves.
The first time was bound to be traumatic. She credits events like World’s Greatest Shave, the Leukaemia Foundation’s annual event to raise funds for research into blood cancer (and lymphoma), for reassuring her that there were many others out there going through the same thing.
Briony extolls the virtues of a shaved head, “I’ve saved a mountain of time washing and drying my hair this year” she says. And with no more getting long hair blowing in your face she goes on to say “In many ways, it’s been really liberating.”
The first thing Briony points out in this regard is that it is perfectly OK to be sad. A hospital psychologist told her that it was important not to feel that this was anything other than a normal part of the reaction, in no way silly or vain. In fact, she was advised not to attempt to find the positive and to mourn her hair, letting the sadness out in other ways.
For Briony, Instagram gave her a valuable tool to communicate her own story and to follow other inspiring women and accounts. Briony went a step further, grabbing images and quotes to print for a giant board at home. She kept it beside her bed where she could see it every morning. She also kept a folder on her phone where she stored all her “lovely” messages of support to reflect on during treatments.
Briony used a couple of meditative techniques. The first is what she calls “the morning pages.” The idea is that first thing in the morning you sit and write two or three pages of whatever comes into your head. No right or wrong here, it is an exercise in clearing your head and organizing your thoughts.
The other was real meditation. Briony used an app called Headspace. She describes it as great for beginners and was inspired to learn that the founder, Andy Puddicombe, was himself someone who had been through treatment for testicular cancer. He developed a series of meditations on coping with cancer which she tried to do daily.
That’s about it, though she signs off with “Take it one day at a time and remember that you are stronger than you know. You’ve got this.”
Hair Loss For Women
It was great to find Briony’s story and we sincerely hope many others will benefit from her experience and appetite for sharing. We loved her take on the “Alien” image, reprising Sigourney Weaver’s shaven-headed character in the film was a stroke of genius, and gives us a little window into how she, with her family, determined to have fun regardless. You can see that picture, and the rest of her wonderful Instagram account by clicking here.
We would like to offer you the opportunity to discuss your hair loss situation with a friendly, globally recognized, expert. Ranbir is a committed hair professional with years of experience and a well-earned reputation for thought-leadership and innovation in the industry. If you would like to discuss your hair loss situation with an expert, sympathetic and experienced ear, please use the contact form to get in touch.