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Topic: Anyone else with chemo straight instead of chemo curly hair?

Forum: Managing Side Effects of Breast Cancer and Its Treatment —

This is a place to discuss concerns, tips and strategies for all types of side effects from all types of medications and treatments, (chemo/rads/hormonal/targeted/pain meds/etc.

Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 11:39AM

bluedasher wrote:

My hair pre-chemo was naturally curly. In high school in the 60s, I sometimes envied the girls with straight long hair. Then as a busy working mother, I learned to appreciate my curly hair that could be worn short and settle into some kind of do with nothing more than a quick brushing. At 57 came HER2+ cancer so even though it was small, I had chemo. I read many posts where people talked about the "chemo curls" that came when their hair grew back. Since my hair already had been curly, I didn't think a lot about it. But my hair grew back straight. At first I was just glad to have it back and I also thought that perhaps the curls would return after a while (just like the initial regrowth is usually colorless and then later the hair grows in colored).

Well, it has been 3 years since chemo. My hair has long been back to its original pre-chemo color but it is still straight straight straight. It seems a petty thing to be concerned about - after all, I'm healthy and back to normal in other respects. But when I look in the mirror it doesn't look right. And after over 50 years dealing with curly hair, I don't know what to do with straight. It seems like the only thing to do is wear it long flopping about or in a ponytail. 

Am I the only oddball that got straight hair from chemo? 

The whole world is a narrow bridge and the main thing is to not fear. Dx 9/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jan 24, 2012 12:07PM sewingnut wrote:

I also had wavy, curly hair pre chemo. I'm 8 months PFC  now and the only part that is wavy is behind my left ear!! Top and sides are straight. Since it is only a couple of inches long, I'm wondering at what point it would have curled. 

Dx 12/2010, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 24, 2012 01:10PM - edited Jan 24, 2012 01:11PM by MadisoninMd

I'm both sorry and relieved to read this. Sorry that you ladies have to deal with it. Chemo and bc are hard enough to endure that we should somehow get our exact prechemo hair back. I'm relieved to read that not everyone gets the curly chemo hair. I've always had straight hair and was dreading all the curls. One more tc and then the hair watch begins!

thank you for giving me hope.

All my best,

Dx 10/7/2011, IDC, 3cm, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 24, 2012 01:20PM nurseronda10 wrote:

Have had super straight hair my entire life and now post chemo, I have some waves, curls, and straight hair.  I am hoping that it relaxes the longer it gets.  My bangs, which are about 3 inches long, are frizzy and curl at the end.  The top is wavy, the back is straight, and hairline along back of my head is more curly.  I have to use a lot of gel and then blow dry it a little to spike it up in the back.  Seems to be growing very slow.  Did come back thick as it was before chemo.

Dx 8/25/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 9/12/2010 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left Targeted Therapy 10/26/2010 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 10/26/2010 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 4/14/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 3/6/2012 Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap, Tissue expander placement Surgery 3/6/2012 Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 6/12/2012 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right)
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Jan 24, 2012 01:22PM Myleftboob wrote:

How interesting.  I'm starting about to start chemo in a couple of weeks and am already looking forward to the day I get hair again. My hair was straight as a young girl then went slightly wavey later.  Now I colour the gray but of course that changes the texture. It will remain to be seen I suppose.

T/C/H 2/17, 3/9, 3/30, 4/20 then H til 1/13 Surgery 12/13/2011 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 5/10/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Dx 7/15/2016, IDC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/lungs/other, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Chemotherapy 7/24/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jan 24, 2012 05:57PM rosemary-b wrote:

Five years out (almost) and my hair is as straight as a stick. It is hard to manage when it had been way to curly my whole life. At least I have hair!

Dx 2/25/2007, IDC, Stage I, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 24, 2012 06:16PM veggy wrote:

I had long, naturally curly hair before chemo. It came in straight. Two years after completing chemo I now have curly hair. Its not as curly as it was before but I'll tak it. I will never have long hair again. It was too much of a shock to lose 13 inches to locks of love and the rest after chemo.

Biography: "Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I'd rather not belong to." - Gilda Radner, Saturday Night Live *********** (Me -stage 4)
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Jan 24, 2012 06:31PM dltnhm wrote:

This is an interesting thread. I had not read about the curly part .. Only the color part. I have naturally curly hair that has gotten progressively curler over the years. Since my surgery on the 10th, I have not been able to straighten it nor had the inclination, so it is a wild mas of curly stuff that no one has seen in a while (family) and or at all (folks that only know my straightened hair self) . I cannot imagine my curls not coming back ... But I guess I wil deal with that issue when and if it presents itself. For now I am enjoying my hair sans straightener, but some days wish I would have colored it one last time as my roots are showing and the color has definitely faded these last 9 1/2 weeks ;-) at least I am not further stressing it out with the blow dryer and tension on the brush.

Age 48 @ diag. Left SS NS UMX, Sent.Node Biopsy & part. Axillary (Node) Ex., & DIEP recon. on 1/10/12; AC DD Chemo began 2/22/12 ended 4/4/12; Taxol 12x: infusions began 4/26/12 ended 7/11/12! Rads x28: 8/06/12 - 9/13/12; Tamoxifen began 10/01/12 Dx 11/23/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 7/19 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 24, 2012 07:25PM Galsal wrote:

This is indeed interesting.  It will be interesting to see what happens as I've had curly hair for 50+ years.  What ever color does or doesn't happen, oh well.  It's about 3/4 gray if I don't color it any ways.

Dx 12/14/2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/10/2012 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 10/6/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 12/13/2012 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy 4/16/2013 Aromasin (exemestane)
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Jan 26, 2012 11:51PM bluedasher wrote:

Thanks to those who posted. It's nice to know that I'm not alone.

The whole world is a narrow bridge and the main thing is to not fear. Dx 9/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jan 27, 2012 12:39AM friscosmom wrote:

I had graying relatively straight hair before losing it during chemo, it grew back stark white and cork-screw curly. It's going on a year since it started growing back and it's back to salt-n-pepper and less curly now that it's growing out. Very interesting how this works out. I'm honestly just so happy to have hair again I don't care if it's curly or straight or blue or purple. :)

Dx 11/5/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 30, 2012 05:16PM - edited Jan 30, 2012 05:17PM by snobordkykmom

I work as an elementary school librarian.    I cut off over a foot and mailed it in pre-chemo, so we could all get used to a change.  Then, once it started falling out, shaved the rest.  All 23 classes were given a "head's up" that it was gone and they are now on a "hair watch" with me.  Once it does start growing back, we will do a prediction board and track the progress.  Some kids are rooting for curly, purple to replace my board-straight mass of outdoor highlighted blond/brown hair I had.  The little ones especially want to check it every week, "Anything yet?? Show us your head!!!"  Right now, it's just dark brown prickly velcro.  I'll keep you guys posted.
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. --Brault
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Feb 26, 2012 03:14AM Franny56 wrote:

Thanks so much for sharing about the "curlies". My 3rd chemo is March 7th and my beautiful curls as I once knew them are gone and getting used to no hair, but I often wonder, not fret about what will come back. Like so many, straight hair was what I always wanted until my 40's and then all of a sudden I was appreciating and loving them. So much a part of who I was, that when someone was describing me to someone else, it was my defining feature. So okay, they are gone now, and I'm still Franny, just no curls. My 28year old son thinks my pretty bald head was passed down to him which he loves since likes to change up his hair. Wig shopping turned into straight hair styles, cause I could, and the curly ones, well they weren't as pretty as mine. So I will at some point be anxious about how it will come back, but I've got a lot of time to think. Good luck.

Franny Dx 11/28/2011, DCIS, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Feb 26, 2012 03:21AM SoCalLisa wrote:

Mine was curly too before chemo and came back straight..but now 11years later it is wavy.. but one little section in the front has stayed straight..the gal who cuts my hair just tries her best

Biography: DX 11/2000 LCIS,DCIS,IDC 2B, Grade 1, ER+,PR+ Her2Neg 1 pos node Lumptectomy, CMF chemo X 6 mos, DX 8/2001, IDC same breast--Mastectomy , Left Breast Lumpectomy... Tamoxifen, one year...Armidex, Four years
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Mar 3, 2012 09:45AM kacee999 wrote:

Well, my pre-chemo hair was curly to frizzy. I am frankly glad to be rid of it, when the biggest decision of the day is which scarf and earrings to break out...hahahaha.  I WISH mine would come back straight (many months more to tell though).  What a bonus that wouuld be!!!!  I'll say one won't get any curlier/thicker!  Not possible!!!

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Mar 21, 2012 09:51AM justagirl wrote:

My auburn hair was long and stick straight before chemo with about 10% grey. My post chemo hair is dark brown, with hardly any grey, and initially was very curly all over and now a year and half later it's chin length with corkscrew curls on the upper sides, frizz on the upper back area and stick straight all along the bottom.

I guess I kind of look like the perm that has gone wrong!  Luckily for me, my hairdresser is inventive and has given me cuts that has made the growing in very attractive and now he has it cut into a shaggy bob which allows my hair to do what it wants.  If I try and straighten it, I can but about an hour later the curly parts just do their thing.  Kind of funny.

but, like lots of us, I'm just happy to have hair!

Debbie: Now that I'm a Stage lV'er, my anxiety has become a reality - lung mets. I am sooooo mad! Dx 3/16/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 4/1/2010 AC
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Mar 21, 2012 10:03AM - edited Mar 21, 2012 10:04AM by kathleen1966

This is soo very funny.  I had both.  Straight hair and wavy hair.  The straight hair came in curly and the wavy hair came in straight.  So now, I have a curly mop type thing on the top with straight (but soo very, very thick) on the sides and back.  My hair is trouble....I can literally pull it straight up and it will stay that way.  I wake up with a large afro every morning.  I was hoping to grow it longer because it originally seemed that it was all going to be curly.  I imagined the long curls I had always dreamed of. But at this rate of growing outward and not downward, I should have the largest afro on the planet Earth by next year. Perhaps I will get a slot in the Guinness Book of Records for largest Afro then...there is always hope for something positive out of this mess no?

I have heard it goes back to its original state.  But you are going on year three.  I too miss my old hair. Because it was mine, the old hair the old me.  But as we all know, that person is also gone. I hope you learn to love your new straight hair!  Maybe it means that the Herceptin is still working?  Smile 

Dx 7/26/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/15 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 7/26/2010, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/15 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 7/26/2010, Paget's, 1cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/15 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 8/23/2010 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left Targeted Therapy 9/7/2010 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/7/2010 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 3/1/2011 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Mar 21, 2012 10:13AM IllinoisNative wrote:

I had wavy hair pre chemo.  And the shorter it was, the curly it became.  Length gave it weight.  How I detested having to straighten it every day.  It was the bain of my existence.  I prayed it would come back straight.  PRAYED.  Even though I heard about the "chemo curl."  Well, it's even worse.  I have ringlets.  And my hair is a few inches long.  And if I sleep on it, it's nothing more than an Afro.  I actually miss my bald days.  Heh.

Ugh.  I hate it.

BRCA 2 Positive Dx 11/27/2010, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 21, 2012 11:09AM Kicks wrote:

I was looking forward to my hair growing back different - especially getting grey. It didn't dang it. I'm 65 and my hair is still as dark as it was in high school. Before chemo there were actually about 10 white hairs but after there are none. I hate being in stores and people I don't even know telling me I shouldn't dye my hair so dark as I'd look younger if I dyed it a lighter color. One quite obnoxious woman once reached up and and spread it apart to see my 'roots' as she didn't believe it's natural when I told her it isn't dyed.
It also came back with the same slight waves in the same places - when I was in high school flips were popular and all I had to do to get a great flip was just shampoo/wet it and let dry and it would just naturally go into a great flip (problem was I liked pageboys better and there was no way that it would stay turned under for more than 5 minutes literally.

Dx 8/7/2009, IBC, Stage IIIC, 19/19 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 8/25/2009 AC Surgery 10/21/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right Chemotherapy 11/11/2009 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/4/2010 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Mar 21, 2012 08:32PM justagirl wrote:

Most of us with for how things were pre- BC, including our hair.  It really bothers my teenage son as he has only ever seen me with long straight hair.

I accept the changes in my hair and new silicone boobs, but don't accept the daily fear that creeps into my life over a scare of a recurrence or mets.  My breast surgeon said if that happens we will deal with it - well, great.  Can I plan for a year from now, or 5 years from now?  My son only has his Dad who is 78 and me at 59.  I need to be here for him, so my hair is the least of my issues.

Things will never be like they were before this BC monster came into my life.

Debbie: Now that I'm a Stage lV'er, my anxiety has become a reality - lung mets. I am sooooo mad! Dx 3/16/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 4/1/2010 AC
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Dec 8, 2020 03:36PM nodi wrote:

I have to respond to this post. It's like I wrote it. I've been googling and googling and haven't found a SINGLE thing on this topic. I had very naturally curly hair until my cancer treatment. I was ER/PR+ and Her2+. I did 12 weeks of Taxol and 1 year of Herceptin every three weeks. Now I take Tamoxifen daily and I get a Lupron injection every three months. During the Taxol treatments, I wore an ice cap - I used the "Dignatana" machine at the hospital which was like an ice cap on my head for 4 hours each time. It's was dreadful. But I didn't lose all my hair - I lost about 50%. I lost hair everywhere else though.

Then the hair started to grow back, and it was totally straight! So I had curly hair that was there along with new straight hair. Finally a few months later, everything became straight! I've shared this with the doctors and no one really cares because of course the goal is to be alive and who cares about your hair -- But I still want to know WHY? HOW? was it the Chemo? Was it the Herceptin? Was it the machine? The tamoxifen? I just want to know.....

I must say: I'm learning to love my new hair and am grateful for every day I can be with my family and not have to go to the hospital. When you've had really curly hair for 47 years and that is part of who you are, it's a bit of shock to the system and to your identity!

Dx 7/3/2019, IDC, Right, 2cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Dec 8, 2020 07:09PM - edited Dec 8, 2020 07:20PM by Shar2020

The differences in people’s hair after chemo has always interested me because I thought curly, straight, etc., was genetic. Curly AND straight hair...that makes it even more interesting!

If my hair is curly after chemo, I may be an 80-year old woman someday, tripping over her long, curly hair because I won't ever want to cut it! 😁

Dx 6/1/2020, IDC, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 8, 2020 08:11PM MinusTwo wrote:

Good for the revival of this thread. My hair was grey and came back brown. It was wavy and came back pretty much the same. It has always been long but I couldn't summon up the good graces to grow it again after it all fell out. Along came Covid. I haven't had a haircut since December 2019. The good & the bad - it's LONG but it's grey again. I'm happier with long hair, but I look sort of like a witch now.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Dec 8, 2020 09:29PM Jaybird627 wrote:

I had stick straight hair my entire life. Had chemo in 2005 and again in 2018 and both times my hair came back exactly the same - stick straight and the same color (a dark blonde/very light brown with some reddish strands here and there). I always hoped that since I had to be bald that my hair would come back with a wave or a curl but nope. lol.

Jaybird. My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope - Ovid. Dx 3/5/2005, IDC, Right, Stage IIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/5/2005 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal; Mastectomy; Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap, Silicone implant
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Dec 8, 2020 09:45PM Spookiesmom wrote:

The first time with IV chemo my hair came back as it had been. Straight and white. Now I’m on ibrance. ONE side is curly, the top won’t lay down, the rest is straight. I wear this hat when I’m really frustrated.

Reoccurrence 3-19. Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Dec 8, 2020 10:41PM Olma61 wrote:

whoa, never saw this thread before and I have been wondering if I was the only curly top who got stuck with straight hair when it grew back. Now I see I am not.

I never loved my curly hair but I was used to it and what’s worse is, I kept the frizziness with nothing more than a slight wave now. Super hard to manage.

It grew quite a bit at first but terribly uneven, so I cut it short again last year to let it even out, and it’s still quite short. Almost totally white but then, it was pretty much silver before chemo and I always colored it. 2 and 1/2years since chemo ended

10/30/2017 Xgeva for bone mets 5/31/2018 Taxol finished! "If one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right” - Kierkegaard Dx 8/3/2017, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Targeted Therapy 10/28/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 10/28/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 10/29/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 5/14/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 5/29/2019 External: Bone
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Dec 9, 2020 08:44PM YesIamaDragon wrote:

yes, mine was thick and curly, now growing back a lot straighter, as everyone joked it would ("Maybe it will curl the other direction and will grow out straight!)

A couple bald spots, but growing back thick and is actually a lot silkier than it was when curlier.

Dx 6/2019, IDC, Right, 2cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy Targeted Therapy Kadcyla (T-DM1, ado-trastuzumab) Surgery Chemotherapy Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)

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