A woman with a shaved head smiles, surrounded by flowers.

To Wig or Not To Wig, That Is The Question

Last updated: August 2021

The protocol for my treatment was surgery then chemo. As I was recovering from surgery I went with our Nurse Advocate. That day was a little blurry as I was still healing from surgery and my world had truly been rocked by my ovarian cancer diagnosis so my brain wasn't retaining to its fullest capacity!

The hair falling out conversation began

I remember sitting with a handout and we reviewed my treatment plan, received a tour of the infusion room, discussed what a port was, learned about all the possible side effects...constipation, nausea, bone pain, tingling of hands and feet, white count, platelet count, and then the hair falling out conversation began. This part I can share that I remember as clear as day!

Cutting my hair short and ordering my wig

Shave your head, get a wig, maybe two wigs, wear a hat, pick out pretty scarfs, get big attention-grabbing earrings... But definitely go get that wig now, you are not going to want to be bald and have your wig on order. At the time I was extremely compliant and before even driving out of the parking garage I had made an appointment to cut my hair very short and have a wig appointment. It was a whirlwind, one day hair down past my shoulders and two days later a very short bob. As the hairdresser finished styling my very very short hair, he began to bring in wigs for me to try on. I still wasn't functioning 100% and let him talk me into a wig that looked exactly like my hair, long brown, wavy luscious highlighted full head of hair. As I waved goodbye to my demo wig, so the real one could be ordered and styled I had a week to go home and enjoy my short-lived new hairstyle.

I looked in the mirror and cried

I do have to say washing, conditioning, and styling was so easy but also as sad as it began to fall out little by little. Within a few weeks, my wig was ready for pick up. Off I went with my best friend in tow, sat at the chair had my head then buzzed and the long-awaited wig was put on my head. I looked in the mirror and cried. I cried for my lost hair, I cried because I finally comprehended I had ovarian cancer, I cried because I didn't know what tomorrow was going to bring and I cried looking at this wig on my head that just felt totally unnatural and was sure everyone would know I had this heavy, sweaty wig on.

I smiled and said thank you and the two of us drove home in silence. As soon as I got home I ripped it off my head, put it on its white foam head, and hid it in the back of the guest room closet. Over the few months, I attempted to wear it but realized it wasn't right for me. I had been talked into replacing my hair with the same look instead of trying different styles, something lighter, or something that I wanted... And in heart, I knew everyone would know it was a wig, and if they did then why plan on being uncomfortable all day and sweaty when I could just pick out some beautiful scarves and hats and embrace my new look.

Do what feel right for you

Now I only share this story as I never wore my wig out once. For me personally, I wish I had waited until later in my treatment as I feel I would have had a better insight into who I was as a bald woman and what would make me feel good about my exterior new image.

Now my thoughts are not for everyone and I always say it is a personal choice, but I just wish I hadn't received so much pressure in this process that it had to be the next thing I needed to take care of. All of our cancer journeys as well as our treatments are individualized and different for each of us. And whether you choose to go blond, purple, curly, long, short, or just wear caps, scarves, or a combination do what feels right for you!

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