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Taming the Chemo Curls

If you’ve stumbled across this then I’m assuming you’re going through the same thing as me. Dealing with life after cancer. I am 22 years old and read up like crazy during treatment about what my hair would be like when it started growing back. I read so much about the “chemo curl” but since my hair was fairly curly before, I thought oh maybe mine will grow back straight! Wrong- it grew back even curlier than before! So here I am, 6 months out of treatment trying to figure out what the heck to do with this fro ball of a head. So here’s what I did:

  1. Went to my hair dresser and had him trim up the sides and the back. I was in between having a grandma haircut and a mullet- so the trim was much needed. Be sure that your hair dresser knows what they’re doing though, and do not let them shave your hair or use texturizing scissors. That will completely mess up the texture of your hair and you will not be happy.
  2. Decided that headbands are my best friend. Although my hair looked SO MUCH better after the trim, I still feel like the sides get a little out of control when trying to grow it out so I love using headbands to shape my head a little more (pictured below).
  3. Find a good, heavy, styling paste. I am using a styling paste from a hair product called Monat and it’s working really well. It is heavy enough and I put that in my hair while it is still wet to help with the little frizzies.
  4. Mess around with it! I was so used to being able to leave my hair curly or straighten it whenever I wanted before, so I went on amazon and bought a mini straighter. Yes they do exist! It was only $12 and it works great so I figured why not.

So basically what I have learned so far is that messing with a mini straightener is fun and I love the look of a tamed wave from using it, but I don’t want to spend that much time trying to do short hair everyday. I’m practicing patience and reminding myself this is temporary and no matter how slow it feels at times, this hair is growing out. So for now, I’ll stick to my headbands with my curly hair and straighten it every now and then when I want a little something different.

First two pictures below are both sides of my hair after I used my mini straightener on it.

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This is what my chemo curls look like (sorry only recent picture I had), with one of my favorite headbands (also found on amazon for super cheap).

What’s Next?

Well here I am, a recent college graduate, 6 months out of treatment, single, and trying to figure out what to do next. I’m leaving Washington and moving back to my hometown but oddly content with where my life is. Of course I have the normal emotions like scanxiety with my 6 month PET scan coming up, worry about how long my hair will stay curly fro ball, and nerves about how I am supposed to emerge myself in the real world after the last year and a half I’ve had. Those are all normal right?

I’ll be home just one week before taking off to Santa Barbara for my PET scan and check up. No matter how many times I have to drink that awful Barium Sulfate, I don’t think it’ll ever get easier. They have a picture of a Vanilla milkshake on it as if that’s what I’m supposed to feel like I’m drinking. Yea right! I think the worst part for me is that I eat and snack when I’m nervous and you have to be on that strict diet the day before. That definitely doesn’t help calm me down. Let’s just hope I’m in and out of that appointment with nothing but good news.

I have an internship lined up at home that I’ll start in late August. I can’t believe I went from 6 months abroad straight to 6 months of basically living in a hospital then straight to 6 months of college and now I’m going into a real job (well almost). I can’t imagine where I will be in the next five years but all I can do is keep a positive attitude and hope that things will finally start to work out in my favor.

Stay tuned for the next posts about my crazy chemo curls, PET scan, and how being a real young adult cancer survivor is going.