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All TopicsForum: African Americans with breast cancer → Topic: Did you go "natural" with your hair during treatment?

Topic: Did you go "natural" with your hair during treatment?

Forum: African Americans with breast cancer — African Americans with breast cancer who want to connect.

Posted on: Jul 18, 2012 04:01PM

curveball wrote:

I was diagnosed with IDC late in March, had a mastectomy in June and just started 6 months of chemo with CMF today. I have alternated (at intervals of several years) between wearing my hair in a press & curl and an Afro. I got bored with the Afro...my complaint was "you can only do two things with it, cut it off or let it grow". And, it's not politically correct, but I think I look prettier with long hair than short, and since I have very thick hair there's a limit to how long I can grow it without straightening, before it becomes impossible to comb it.

I would describe my hair type as a loose 4-c. The curls are bigger than a coffee stirrer, but smaller than a pencil, and they don't form any kind of a wave pattern if left to their own devices. Oddly enough, this past winter before I got diagnosed, I got an intense curiosity about head-wraps and natural hair care, looking at lots of You-Tube videos on both subjects. I tried doing a "braid out/tuck & roll" style one time and it didn't look half bad, but that was just an experiment--I washed my hair, wore the tuck & roll for one day and pressed my hair that night when it was completely dry. Then, right before surgery, I didn't know how soon I'd be able to put my hands over my head to press it or put it up in curlers, so my mom and I divided it up in sections and braided yarn into it (an idea from those videos). I'd always wanted to have really long hair, so I made the braids down to the small of my back. It was fun, and I got lots of compliments, although putting the braids in was by no means as easy as those videos made it look, and by a few weeks after surgery I was ready to take them all out again and get a comb through my hair. You're supposed to be able to wash the hair and yarn and all, but I was really afraid if I did that I'd end up with dreadlocks and have to cut the yarn out rather than being able to un-braid it. 

Anyway, I've continued to wonder about natural hair, and whether if I really need to press my hair to grow it long and have it look pretty. Discovering that a product I've relied upon for years to give it that smooth silky feel to my hair after pressing has parabens in it is another incentive to change my ways. I don't know if there is any definitive proof that parabens promote breast cancer, but if there's an easy way to eliminate them, it can't do any harm and may do good.

Anyway, from what I have read, the chemo treatment I will be receiving for the next several months usually does not cause total hair loss like some do, but that's not outside the realm of possibility and at a minimum I can expect that it will cause some thinning--how much remains to be seen. I've decided to cut my hair and go back to an Afro for now. I figure cleaning up hair that has fallen out is probably easier if it's short than if it's long.So I am just wondering, did anyone go natural during treatment, and did you just do it temporarily or continue on even after your treatment was completed? I'm especially interested to hear if anyone was on a CMF chemo regimen, and how it affected your hair, if at all.

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Posts 1 - 13 (13 total)

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Jul 26, 2012 12:22PM ttay wrote:

I hope I'm not totally off-topic; guess my post is really just about my experience with my hair since chemo (AC&T).

I finished chemo in October 2011. My hair came back straight/wavy at first; Then with tight curls, kind of springy. I thought about going natural, then changed my mind. I tried to relax my hair a few times, by just rubbing it in and rinsing it out quickly. Smile

I had a texturizer put in about a month ago. Despite everything, my hair is still curly, just not as tight. I can't get it smooth to do a straighter style, like my stylist did. I love the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie on my hair...my only dislike is that it takes some time to dissolve into my hair. 

TTay

TTay

Dx 4/18/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIb, 8/15 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 06/23/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolRadiation Therapy 11/14/2011 ExternalSurgery 09/19/2012 Reconstruction: DIEP flap (Right)Surgery 12/11/2012 Reconstruction: DIEP flap (Right)
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Jul 26, 2012 08:37PM ZuriB wrote:

Curveball,  most people get chemo curls once their hair grows or fills in during or after chemo. If you get chemo curls your texture will change.  I had TCH so I cut my head bald 14 days after  my first treatment. I finished treatments October 2011.  I started using Nioxin shampoo/conditioner and scalp treatment in Feb. 2012 as I was still bald not a stand of hair.   One month later it grew about an inch, white-(due to pigment) and tight curls.  April my hair turned black and grew another inch.  It hasn't grew since but I continue to wear a wig because I look funny with curly hair. I use to have long super thick straight hair.  I've tried over  20 different hair products  I would recommend the Nioxin Shampoo/Conditioner, scalp treatment or hair booster.Kind of expensive but well worth it.(Get at Marshall's more expensive at stores or online $20 each for a large bottle of sham/cond. & booster/scalp treatment together for $13).  And for moisture, control the frizz and to define your curls or make your waves curly use Taliah Waajid Curl Searler-(drug stores for $7.99) its all natural.

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Jul 26, 2012 09:05PM curveball wrote:

hi ttay,

If your avatar is a picture of you with wavy post-chemo hair, my compliments. The short 'do looks cute on you.

What company makes the Shea Smoothie? I am thinking of changing my hair care products to avoid parabens. I searched for it in a database of cosmetics to see what it's made out of, but didn't find it.

Oncotype score 28--Age 56 at initial DX--mets found at 57 (but I suspect they were there from the start)--mixed IDC & carcenoid (neuroendocrine) tumor. Octreotide (a carcenoid treatment) June-Sept 2013, failed.

Dx 3/23/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 2/26/2013, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 06/06/2012 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 07/18/2012 Cytoxan, fluorouracil, methotrexateHormonal Therapy 01/10/2013 ArimidexHormonal Therapy 06/03/2013 AromasinChemotherapy 10/30/2013 TaxolChemotherapy 01/22/2014 Doxil
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Aug 6, 2012 07:59PM Thatgirl wrote:

Hi Curve,

I did not have chemo so I can't share anything regarding that. I did go natural right before my dx. After my dx, I decided to continue on that path due to less chemical exposure. I too am ER+ so something (?) is causing it. Hair products was once less thing I wanted to worry about.

If you read the ingredients on some products you will find they are full of soy. I use a lot of coconut oil and organic products that have no soy.

If you check on the open forum, I'm sure somene has had that same treatment plan. 

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Aug 30, 2012 06:06PM msphil wrote:

I had my hair cut very close so it would not be so traumatic when it started comung out and it did, still hard but at least it was so very long when it happened, when it went completely bald it   it came back in  nice texturebut after treatment it went back to my former grade, I wore scarves cause it was cold during treatments. msphil (idc,stage 2, 0/3 nodes, L mast, chemo and rads and 5 yrs on                          Tamoxifen                 Y                                e         mae

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Sep 11, 2012 07:11AM, edited Sep 11, 2012 07:12AM by Coco3012

I've been looking at this website since I had a callback from my first mammogram on April 16th, but of all things I finally decided to register because I have a question about hair.  I know a few people with cancer, but I only know one other black woman with breast cancer, so my resources are not wide-ranging.

I started chemo with Adriamycin & Cytoxan on August 30th -- about 2 weeks ago -- and was told that my hair would fall out.  I cut it & have been relaxer-free after my mastectomy because my relaxed bob was very labor-intensive.  I loved my hair but have been thinking for a few years that I should go natural so that I wouldn't have to worry about it when working out.  Cancer was my excuse to cut it and not care how I looked.  I'm not crazy about it (the cancer & the natural hair Embarassed), but it is what it is.

Anyway, my question is:  Did anyone experience crazy itching and soreness?  I'm not sure if it's the chemo and the hair loss (which I just noticed yesterday) or just from going natural.  I read on Carol's Daughter that folks experience a scab phase when going natural.

Any thoughts?

Dx 5/7/2012, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-Surgery 06/14/2012 Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Surgery 07/06/2012 Mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction: DIEP flap (Left)Chemotherapy 08/30/2012 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol
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Sep 11, 2012 07:50AM, edited Sep 11, 2012 07:50AM by curveball

@Coco3012, I'm sorry, I can't answer either of your questions, because I'm on a different chemo regimen and haven't relaxed my hair in a very long time. From what I've read, I think the itching and soreness could be due to either chemo, stopping relaxer, or a little of each. I think if you ask in one of the threads on the chemo forum someone on AC chemo can tell you whether she had itching when her hair fell out, or maybe ttay will chime in, she had AC & T chemo last year.

Oncotype score 28--Age 56 at initial DX--mets found at 57 (but I suspect they were there from the start)--mixed IDC & carcenoid (neuroendocrine) tumor. Octreotide (a carcenoid treatment) June-Sept 2013, failed.

Dx 3/23/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 2/26/2013, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 06/06/2012 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 07/18/2012 Cytoxan, fluorouracil, methotrexateHormonal Therapy 01/10/2013 ArimidexHormonal Therapy 06/03/2013 AromasinChemotherapy 10/30/2013 TaxolChemotherapy 01/22/2014 Doxil
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Sep 11, 2012 05:33PM Coco3012 wrote:

Thanks @curveball.  I posted the same question on another board and got an answer - not a definitive one, but it helped.

Dx 5/7/2012, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-Surgery 06/14/2012 Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Surgery 07/06/2012 Mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction: DIEP flap (Left)Chemotherapy 08/30/2012 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol
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Oct 30, 2012 07:52PM Warrior49 wrote:

Ho Coco3012

i just discovered this wonderful site.  I have been cancer free since 2007 - I took Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxol for my chemo.  My scalp itched all the time.  I rubbed a small amount of pure Aloe Vera on my scalp, then applied baby oil to my scalp..it helped tremendously. 

I pray that you are doing well with your therapy.  Take Care 

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Dec 16, 2012 10:51PM rogam wrote:

I saw your post..I pray that you have completed your chemo and are on your way to health and beautiful curly hair.

Ro Gamble

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Dec 17, 2012 09:35PM, edited Dec 17, 2012 09:35PM by curveball

@rogam,
I won't be done with chemo for another month yet. I haven't straightened my hair since last June. By last week my hair had grown out enough that it was getting hard to comb, so I put my yarn braids back in. But it isn't quite long enough for that and now I have all sorts of fuzz escaping from the braids. I think I'll have to do some of them over again. Also, there are a couple or three braids on top of my head I just can't seem to get started by myself. Right now I am staying with my mom, but once I move out I don't know what I'll do about them. I can braid my own hair up there, but somehow when I try to add the yarn my fingers can't tell what to do. Maybe I just need more practice. I've only done these yarn braids twice.

Oncotype score 28--Age 56 at initial DX--mets found at 57 (but I suspect they were there from the start)--mixed IDC & carcenoid (neuroendocrine) tumor. Octreotide (a carcenoid treatment) June-Sept 2013, failed.

Dx 3/23/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 2/26/2013, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 06/06/2012 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 07/18/2012 Cytoxan, fluorouracil, methotrexateHormonal Therapy 01/10/2013 ArimidexHormonal Therapy 06/03/2013 AromasinChemotherapy 10/30/2013 TaxolChemotherapy 01/22/2014 Doxil
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Dec 19, 2012 04:31PM msphil wrote:

I also had my hair cut down very short so it would not be so truamatic when it started coming out, and after the 1st treatmentit did start and then I had it all cut off, I too had long thick hair but wore it straight, it came back in very soft and baby like hair, but when I started rads it came out again, that doesn,t happen much, I now wear it Natural and love it.  msphil(idc,stage2,Lmast,nodes involved, chemo and rads and 5 yrs on Tamoxifen) God Bless Us ALL. BLESSED HOLIDAY to us ALL. 

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Jun 9, 2013 12:59PM, edited Jun 9, 2013 01:05PM by Dolores

KissI lost all my hair during treatment.Since it has grown back I always wear my natural hair. I love my natural hair.  When I lost my hair during chemotherapy it did itch and burn I cut it all off. Good luck  and many blessing to you.

genise greene

Dx 11/20/2008, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, mets, PR-, HER2+