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Topic: Shaving your head before chemo?

Forum: Chemotherapy - Before, During, and After —

Regimens, side effects, and support from others going through chemo.

Posted on: Oct 24, 2015 10:48AM

HollyElise83 wrote:

Hello all!! I am new to this site, this is my first post 😊. I am starting T/C chemotherapy in a couple of weeks and would like some input on hair loss. My husband and my hair stylist proposed the idea of having a head shaving party BEFORE starting chemo. Since we don't know how I will be feeling after, their thought was that she could give me a really fun hot pink pixie cut, we could have some friends and family over for cocktails, and then shave my head (along with my husband's and whoever else wants to rock a bald head) making it a fun event. I like the idea, however it seems strange to shave it off before it starts falling out. I have two sons (9 and 11), and I worry that if we wait until it starts to fall out it may be more emotional for all of us. Has anyone else shaved their head beforehand? Those who didn't, do you wish you would have? I know everyone is different, and has varying levels of comfort, but any input is greatly appreciated! I would love to hear your stories! 💜

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Oct 24, 2015 11:13AM - edited Oct 24, 2015 11:14AM by MissBee123

Hello Holly and welcome!

I had a head shaving party, too, and it was quite fun! I waited until mine began to fall out, however, I think there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

Most people lose their hair pretty consistently between days 14-16. By then, in general (if you're having treatment every 3 weeks), you are feeling pretty good. If that's not your regimen and you're on weekly treatments, you might feel differently. The drawback to waiting is that your hair will begin to fall out pretty quickly and it may be hard to plan a party last-minute. For me, day 14 my hair was intact and strong. Day 15 I woke up and when I ran a brush through my hair all of it came out. My parents were due to arrive in town for my next chemo and head shaving party two days later. I ended up pinning my hair in a little bun and then threw a scarf on. For the next two days I didn't touch my hair so that it would last, but it was ready to jump off my head by the time the party arrived.

The drawback to doing it beforehand is you may be one of the people who doesn't lose their hair. Some women only experience mild thinning and it might be sad to cut your hair off for no reason. If your hair doesn't fall out, then you will find the stubble growing back pretty quickly. The upside to doing it before chemo, of course, is that it allows you to be in control. For me, I was fine with losing my hair, but many women find it deeply upsetting. If you feel attached to your hair and know you might have this type of reaction, doing it earlier may help.

Either way, having a party is a blast. My mom even made t-shirts for everyone at the party, which was really fun. I had a friend video it for me. If you'd like to watch it, it's here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQwMLNn8k-k

(I never want to feel self-promoting on this site, please only watch if it would be helpful, no pressure!)

Good luck!

Dx 5/12/2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 7/27/2015 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 7/27/2015 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 7/27/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 11/2/2015 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, PAP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, PAP flap Chemotherapy 1/11/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 3/1/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Oct 24, 2015 11:17AM - edited Oct 24, 2015 11:26AM by 27heart

Hi Holly! I had a hair shaving party too! But I did it when my hair started to fall (like miss bee). I had everyone take turns having a go at my head. It was a lot of fun, and a little tears.

I had a funky pixie haircut right before chemo. It was much easier to manage and I actually looked good in it! I would encourage you to try out a haircut that you would never otherwise try. What could go wrong? If it doesn't look good, go shorter until you shave it off! ;)

Oh and I was thinking, if you do have a hair shaving party, perhaps you could let your kids be part of it, I found that it helps everyone feel involved and less afraid of the situation. Just my thoughts!

Having fun in any circumstance is the key to a great mental wellbeing!

Dx at 27. From Asia, where nobody talks about breasts. Dx 5/26/2015, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 6/2/2015 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 1/11/2016 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap, Silicone implant
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Oct 24, 2015 11:19AM marion55 wrote:

i am waiting to start my chemo and will waiy to see what happens with my hair xx i was told by my partner to go bald xx

Dx 9/4/2015, ILC, Right, 2cm, 4/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx 9/4/2015, ILC, Right, 2cm, Grade 2, 4/4 nodes, ER+ Surgery 10/8/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 10/8/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Chemotherapy 11/18/2015 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Oct 24, 2015 11:26AM SpecialK wrote:

I did 6 TCH and did not start to lose my hair until day 24, so that meant that I still had a full head of hair through 1/3 of my chemo treatments.  Personally, I would not have wanted to be bald any longer than I needed to.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 16 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 2013-2018. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Oct 24, 2015 11:32AM rainnyc wrote:

HollyElise, I got a short cut, then went to the place where they sold me my wig when it really started to fall out and had them take the rest of it off. (But I'm a serious introvert and would not have done a party!)

Something my wig guy told me, which I'm passing along because I think it's important, is this: Please don't shave your head down to the skin. If you're having chemo, your white blood cell counts will be dropping, and you'll be more vulnerable to infection from tiny skin nicks. They clipped mine very, very short, nearly to the skin but not all the way down. I also found that in the first couple of weeks of chemo, I had small skin infections--like acne but all over, including on my scalp. You don't want to aggravate those.

I'm sorry you have to be here, and I hope the chemo mojo kills those nasty cancer cells! Good luck!

Dx 4/2015, IDC, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Chemotherapy 5/12/2015 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/12/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 9/22/2015 Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2015 Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab)
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Oct 24, 2015 11:49AM KBeee wrote:

I had a head shave party and 20 guys I worked with shaved theirs too... Both times. It was a hoot and they are very fun, positive memories from challenging times. The second time my kids shaved my hair into a Mohawk first and I used that as my Facebook picture for a while, which my kids thought was a hoot. I liked never having to stress about hair falling out or the mess. For Halloween, first time around, I let my kids paint my head as a jack-o-lantern. Second time around was spring, so they painted my head like an Easter egg.

Karen. Dx 8/5/2013, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/25/2013 Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 9/19/2013 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 12/11/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 1/22/2014 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 1/28/2015 Lumpectomy: Right Dx 2/2/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 2/24/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Prophylactic ovary removal Dx 2/25/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 3, 0/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Chemotherapy 3/30/2015 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 8/24/2015 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole)
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Oct 24, 2015 11:50AM 208sandy wrote:

Yes, don't "shave" your head - buzzing it is what is required and hairdressers know how to do it - the reason for taking your hair off before chemo is that in some cases it hurts falling out (a friend of mine was in tears it hurt her so much) so get a short cut first and then get it buzzed closer to day 14 - mine fell out on day 17. I certainly didn't have a party but I also didn't take anyone to dr. appointments or chemo or anything - I feel stronger when I am alone for some reason. Don't have children so can't comment on that but the party might be a help to them (and you) - best wishes to you - things are going to be o.k.

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Oct 24, 2015 12:00PM Sjacobs146 wrote:

I waited to shave my head until after it started falling out. Be sure to get a wig befor your hair starts falling out so that they can match your natural color as closely as possible. I visited the wig shop prior to chemo, then once my hair started falling out, I went to the salon where I purchased the wig and they shaved my head for me in a private room. I did not want anyone in my family to shave their heads because I thought that seeing bald heads everywhere would depress me and remind me that I was bald too. You generally have 14 days post treatment before your hair starts falling out

Dx 8/26/2014, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/23/2014 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 10/24/2014 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/26/2015 Breast Hormonal Therapy 4/17/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Oct 24, 2015 12:03PM sbeddows123 wrote:

I did a short pixie cut to start then about 3 weeks into chemo cut it very short.....grade 2 say......after that it was getting patchy and bugged me so I went grade 1. I still actually have stubble and have just 2 more treatments to go so I am wondering if I will ever be bald all the way (I am 90% bald dont get me wrong :) ) I have a very very young daughter who really hasn't een affected by my crazy hair changes....I say do whatever is going to be easiest for you. Sometimes it's nice to take control.of the hair situation rather than just let it do its thing :)

Dx 7/2015, IDC, Right, 3cm, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 24, 2015 02:49PM - edited Oct 24, 2015 02:50PM by HollyElise83

Love the video MissBee123! You are beautiful, with or without your hair, and I love all the smiles! We just have to try to make the best out of a situation that no one wants to be in! Thank you for sharing 😊

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Oct 24, 2015 08:36PM Kicks wrote:

We had a 'Hair Shaving' party at the barn when my hair started coming out in big clumps. Son and some of my 'Sons' (his friends who call me Mom) all clipped their hair and mine with the horse clippers (there were also a few horses who got their manes done). Hubby is basically bald anyway so just runs the clippers over hear every week or 2 anyway.

A good time was had by all of us as I was fighting the Monster and it was just a part of the Battle I/my body was waging with the support of loved ones.

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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Oct 24, 2015 09:48PM DeeRatz wrote:

I had my hair cut shorter the day before I started chemo. My hair started falling out day 13 and I had a head shaving party on the 14 th day. My friend is a hairdresser and brought her clippers over. A few of my girlfriends, my Daughters and husband were all here. We drank quite a few bottles of wine, had some shots and got it done. I would recommend buzzing it really short as all those little hairs fall out, stick in your clothes and drive you nuts. My husband actually ended up using a razor on my head because I couldn't stand all those little hairs. I found out after you can use a sticky lint roller to remove the stubble. I shaved my head many times because my hair continued to grow throughout my treatments. I have just finished my 4th and last treatment. I have quite a bit of dark hair already growing back. I quit shaving it after my third chemo. My head never stayed smooth. Was always stubbly. Make sure you have your wig ready and some hats to wear around the house and at night when you sleep. Your head will be cold.

Good luck! The anticipation of it happening is very hard. I had a harder time losing my hair than I did my breasts....crazy I know....you will be in my thoughts!
Dx 4/30/2015, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 6/16/2015 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 8/19/2015 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 11/25/2015 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 2/11/2016 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Surgery 10/24/2016 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Oct 25, 2015 12:30AM Holeinone wrote:

Holly, I think most ladies lose there hair on A/C, not sure on T/C.

I wished I had got a cute short cut before my first chemo. It would of showed me what it will look like in the future.

My chemo was dose dense, meaning every 14 days. My head hurt. The weight of my hair was really painful. So happy to shave it off. I bought a wig, never wore it. Not once, I hated it. I did need a beanie, I live in a cold climate & it was early winter during chemo.

I hope chemo is gentle for you.

Spinal mets Surgery 7/22/2013 Lumpectomy: Left Chemotherapy 8/22/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 12/23/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 3/3/2016, ILC, Left, 1cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, Grade 2, 6/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 25, 2015 12:37AM susan_02143 wrote:

I can't imagine doing a party! For me, this was a private moment. I cut my hair short for surgery to make washing the hair easier. I then had my head shaved, privately, before I started chemo. This was not a celebration. I didn't care to share this moment with anyone else. Losing the hair before chemo was the right thing to do, I just wanted to do this on my own terms. [And the idea that others would shave their heads to "support" anyone is just odd. It doesn't change your own destiny so what is the point?

*susan*

anotherplan.blogspot.com... and its back. May 3, 2010 mets found. Five years NED on Faslodex * 4/2015 progression to bone * 6/11/2015 Femara/Ibrance * 12/27/2015 Xeloda * 2/24/2016 Xgeva * another progression, another drug Taxol 2/14/2017 Dx 6/8/2005, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 25, 2015 08:27AM rainnyc wrote:

I felt the same way you did, Susan. My DH's first suggestion when I knew I'd be having chemo was that he'd shave his head and get our teenage son to do the same. I told him absolutely not, that if I couldn't have hair I wanted others around me who did. Took a selfie of me-with-hair before I had it buzzed off. I looked grim--not like someone who wanted a party around her. But if a celebration is right for you, then go with it!

For those going through it now....about 7 weeks post final chemo and have a half inch of hair!

Dx 4/2015, IDC, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Chemotherapy 5/12/2015 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/12/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 9/22/2015 Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2015 Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab)
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Oct 27, 2015 08:49PM HollyElise83 wrote:

Susan I guess it's a matter or perspective. If my family and friends want to shave their heads and throw me a party because they want to do something to make me smile, I will absolutely embrace that. The fact that I have support like that in my life is something worth celebrating. I watched my dad go through chemotherapy for almost a year, and I felt helpless. I threw him a party and it warmed my heart to see him smile and be surrounded by everyone he loved. I can only feel fortunate that I have people that want to do the same for me. While I have no doubt that I will shed a couple tears, I can't help but be overwhelmed with love and support.

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Oct 27, 2015 08:55PM ksusan wrote:

TC will do it, too.

Mutant uprising quashed. Dx 1/2015, IDC, Right, Stage IIA, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/2015, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy Whole-breast Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jun 14, 2019 12:07AM Abbidoodle wrote:

I'm one week past 1st treatment and will have my next one in a week. My best friend is giving me a "lemon" party about 5 days after. Bought a bright yellow scarf and about a dozen of my closest family and friends will sign it and be with me when I get it buzzed/shaved. The theme is making lemonade out of lemons and will have various lemon goodies. Would love some ideas about something fun or funny to do at the "party". Any suggestions?

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Jun 14, 2019 02:01AM - edited Jun 14, 2019 02:02AM by Meow13

There are for some very strong pyschological issues with this one. I for one would not want to face total hair loss by chemo or otherwise. It was also pyschological painful to see my mastectomy so I wouldn't look at it. The 4 month wait for reconstruction was the hardest and saddest 4 months of my life. I broke down a couple times I would have chosen immediate DIEP reconstruction if it was possible.

As far as shaving my head , never, when I was a child my parents threaten me with that if I didn't do what they said. It is and was a form of humiliation. I know times are different but when I think of a woman with a shaved head I think of what the Nazis and others did to women who were caught have relations with the "enemy". Personally no way would I ever make light of baldness.

Good for you if you can do it or live with no breasts but don't expect others to feel the same way.

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Jun 14, 2019 05:46AM Janetanned wrote:

I think people are just sharing their journey with no expectation that anyone follow their path. Everyone has a different perspective and that is perfectly fine.

Personally, I didn't mourn too deeply the loss of my hair. I watched my mother handle her chemo many years ago and knew what I was facing long before I actually faced it. I couldn't be bothered with using cold caps, so I prepared for the loss of my hair. I got a short haircut that matched my wig a few weeks before chemo. Right before my 2nd AC tx my husband shaved my head. He cried a little, but I wasn't very upset. It was just another thing to deal with. I worked through chemo and most of my students did not even realize that i was wearing a wig.

So everyone should do what works best for you! Some never bother with a wig and rock the scarves and caps that are available. Some wear nothing and look terrific. Others wear wigs well. Most importantly, do what works for you!

Janet 11/10/11 BMX/DIEP reconstruction, 1/6/12- 4 AC DD followed by 4Taxol DD, followed by 33 rads, 10yrs hormone blocker Dx 10/11/2011, ILC, <1cm, Stage IIIA, 4/30 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 14, 2019 08:25AM wanderweg wrote:

Taxotere will definitely cause hair loss. I cut my hair very short prior to TC chemo and then buzzed it after the first round. It can be uncomfortable as it comes out and it seems to help if it’s super short. Also, it’s just unsettling when it starts to fall out even though you know it’s going to happen. Mine grew back a little between each round and I wasn’t 100% bald until after the last round. I never wore a wig, just scarves and caps. And as soon as the first little bit grew back, I stopped covering my head at all. I found the Sinead O’Connor look kind of freeing. Now I have a head full of fluffy chemo curls. When it goes back to being straight, I’ll probably cut it super short again. But here’s the important thing – all that was just my experience. The more women you can talk to who actually had chemo and can speak from experience, the better. Your friends, family members, or even women with cancer who didn’t have chemo really have no way of knowing what they would do in the actual situation. And then you have to decide for yourself what works for you. I talked with several women who had been through chemo before I started, and found them really encouraging. It helped me know that even the hair loss was just temporary and part of doing everything I could to get well.

weakly ER+, TNBC on oncotype Dx 5/10/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 6/10/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/6/2018 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Chemotherapy 8/31/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 12/1/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 14, 2019 09:54AM DebAL wrote:

I would like to agree 100% with HollyE even though it's an older post. Sure, family and friends dont really get it. Or understand. And I'm glad they dont because I dont wish this disease on anyone. I feel it's about their INTENT. They are trying to show they care. I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received. Still am.

Abbi, I'm glad you are moving forward with the love and support of those around you.

Everyone's journey is different. People are sharing personal experiences not expecting others to follow. Until we are in certain situations we dont know what we would do.

I thought hair loss would bother me more than it did. I had more ups and downs the first week or 2 but that was about it. I was BEYOND thankful to have NO side effects from chemo. Walked 3 miles daily including day of chemo. Took 3 days off then back to work for the last round. I was not expecting that so hair just wasnt my main concern. Again..my own experience... I've seen alot in 33 years of nursing. Amputees. Brain damage. Strokes at 40 with permanent deficits. Birth defects. And yes cancer. People go through some shit. Life can suck. So after caring for others all day I would look in the mirror when I got home and tell myself I'll get through this. Just sharing my experience

Dx 1/22/2018, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 2/12/2018 Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 2/12/2018 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 4/2/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 6/14/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 8/9/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 12/20/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery
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Jun 14, 2019 11:30AM wanderweg wrote:

Abbidoodle - I wanted to add that I love your idea about the party. That’s such a positive way of dealing with something difficult. If it were me, I might have limoncello at that party!

I know the original poster is done with chemo by now. I hope she is doing well. But this thread got me thinking about when I first found out I need to chemotherapy. My younger son, who was 21 at the time, was the first person I told because he was at my house when I got home. He sat and held my hand and cried with me, then offered to shave my head for me. It was such a loving offer. I hate this disease, but I am grateful for all the love and support I got from so many people throughout my treatment.

weakly ER+, TNBC on oncotype Dx 5/10/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 6/10/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/6/2018 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Chemotherapy 8/31/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 12/1/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)

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