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 07:48AM

Posted on: Oct 24, 2015 07:48AM

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 08:13AM - edited Oct 24, 2015 08:14AM 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:

(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+, Chemotherapy 7/26/2015 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 7/26/2015 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 7/26/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 11/1/2015 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, PAP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, PAP flap Chemotherapy 1/10/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 2/29/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Oct 24, 2015 08:17AM - edited Oct 24, 2015 08:26AM 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 08:19AM 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 08:26AM 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, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+, IHC
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Oct 24, 2015 08:32AM 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 5/11/2015 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/11/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 9/21/2015 Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy 10/31/2015 Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab)
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Oct 24, 2015 08:49AM 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- Surgery 8/25/2013 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (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; Lumpectomy (Right) Dx 2/2/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 2/24/2015 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right); Lymph node removal; Lymph node removal (Right): Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary Dx 2/25/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 3, 0/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- 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 08:50AM 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 09:00AM 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 9/22/2014 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 10/23/2014 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/25/2015 Breast Hormonal Therapy 4/16/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Oct 24, 2015 09:03AM 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 11:49AM - edited Oct 24, 2015 11:50AM 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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