Turns Out I Wasn’t Ready

I thought I had things under control.  And then came hair loss.

It’s widely known that one of the side effects of chemotherapy is the loss of hair.  No big deal…it will grow back.  After all, I had watched my mother deal with losing her hair not once but twice as she tackled the ‘Big C’.  I had fooled myself into thinking that the hair loss was the least of my worries.

My first chemo cycle was not as rough as I had expected, yes I had some slight nausea, pains in my feet and hands but overall I just felt weak and fatigued.  Nothing too unbearable.  When there was no hair loss in the immediate days after that first cycle, I was like…”Maybe I’ll be lucky and not lose my hair”.  And then a week and half later it began.  At first it looked like normal shedding, but then it got progressively worse.  Next thing I knew there was hair everywhere, on my pillow when I woke up, in the bathroom sink, on the floor….just everywhere.

Exactly 2 weeks after my first chemo treatment, I headed to the hairdresser to do a big chop.  Again, no big deal right, especially since I’ve worn my hair in a ‘teenie-weenie afro’ many times over the years.  Once I had cut it I remembered how much I loved wearing my hair short….yeah I could do this again. Teenie Weenie Afro

Except I was still losing hair.  If I so much as brushed my hand across the top of my head, hair came out.  Pretty soon, I had resorted to only touching my hair once for the day in the morning.  Less than a week after cutting it while market shopping, a friend hinted that I might need to start wearing a scarf.  A bald patch had now appeared in the back of my head.

The next morning (last Thursday in fact) on the dreaded chemo day, as I massaged hair product in, the hair loss was more profound than before.  Literally the side of my head had peeled out.  I sent this picture to my sister who joked that I looked like a little birdie.  My response to her…. “more like a peel head jankro”.

Peel Out

It threw me into a tailspin.  For the first time since this whole experience began, I felt real depression.  I had planned to go into work for a few hours that day before chemo at 5pm but I simply couldn’t move.  Over the course of the day  depression turned to guilt, guilt because it felt like I was being vain to put so much stock in my hair of all things.  Turns out losing my hair was actually harder than losing my breast.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that no matter what I did, I had no control.  No matter how much I cut my hair, it was still coming out.

Later while scrolling through Instagram, I came across this post from The Laurus Project (@thelaurusproject), a non-profit organization focused on helping breast cancer survivors thrive.

The Laurus Project

The image and caption was just what I needed in that moment.  Better to take control and just shave it off.  So on the way to chemo, I made a quick stop at the barbershop.



40 thoughts on “Turns Out I Wasn’t Ready

  1. Lesley Roberts says:

    YOU are my SHERO!! Thank you! Thank you! for sharing all the emotions! Please don’t ever stop! It helps us, who struggle for the right words!
    Stay blessed! 😘


  2. Althea says:

    I’m sure that they will be many times when it feels like Cancer is taking every thing away but it’s great to focus on the things you’re gaining like discovering inner strength that you never new was there You rocking dat baldheaed look like a boss! Stay strong mi fren and thanks for allowing us to share the journey.


  3. Patricia Johnston says:

    Tina Mae my love, you are beautiful! Over the years I have watched my patients go through what you’re going through right now and in over forty years of being in the field of radiation oncology, each and everyone has handled this, your experience, differently. You ,my love , are one of the brave, beautiful people, my niece’s cousin ,who’s been in my prayers ever since she told me what you were facing . Have your moments of feeling sad but don’t let them define you. You’re traveling a long, difficult road but it’s
    ‘a thing ‘ it’s not who you are. Keep fighting . Show your’ cancer ‘ (see, I used the lower case ‘c’ ) who’s in charge! So you lose your hair, lucky you your head’s a great shape so the hair’s only icing on the cake, it’ll grow back; you feel nauseous, take a Zofran or a ‘hit’. YES YOU CAN BEAT THIS. Believe, have faith , trust in Him . Bless you.


  4. William Rose says:

    Hair what hair didn’t even know. You had hair . Your beauty out shon all of that dist raction on your head😁 you are beautiful with or without my love and the most important thing is you are present and in the fight
    Stay sweet


  5. Suzie B says:

    I think you look HOT!!!! I mean HAWT!!! You are a truly beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing your heart especially for those of us who aren’t there to hug and just be there. Your strength is incredible!!! Love you warrior!!!!


  6. Angella Bennett says:

    Tina, you are incredibly brave and such an inspiration. the new look is very trendy and fab and u wear it well.
    be encouraged by the outpour of love that is coming your way. we are all praying for you and you will beat C.


  7. Simone Dockery says:

    Girlllll. You have me BALLING at work!!!!!!! I am in awe over your strength and your determination to get through this. When Kerry first told me, I was devastated for you and for her because she loves you so much. But reading this, I am so amazed by you. I don’t know if I would have been able to do it but at least you showed that anyone can. I love the new look. Gorgeous!!!!!!


    • tinafest says:

      Aaaw Simone, thanks honey. Kerry has been such an amazing tower of strength, love her so much. Funny I don’t feel like I’m being strong, just doing what I think anyone in this position would. Through it all I’m blessed.


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