The Challenges

The Challenges Illness Presents

Then there are challenges with the immune system which can lead to hair loss, such as alopecia, more evident in teenagers and young adults, which often presents itself as sporadic bald patches. Whilst such conditions frequently present psychological barriers to sufferers’ social lives they are rarely associated with severely debilitating or life threatening illness.

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss

Not so with hair loss associated with cancer treatments such as chemo- and radiotherapy (though less apparent other than around the treated area).

One of the most commonly asked questions attendant with such therapies is “Will I lose my hair”. For chemotherapy the answer is a very likely Yes because the drugs used are intended to kill cancer cells but will also, as well as attacking cancer cells, impact the functioning of normal body cells such as hair follicles.

Happily, in nearly all cases the body hair grows back upon completion of treatment – and may even return thicker and stronger.

Besides the immediate trauma of diagnosis and treatment there are the social ramifications attendant with the resultant hair loss. The response varies between sufferers from pragmatic acceptance to acute psychological stress, especially for women, for whom hair loss or baldness is not so easily accepted as a social norm or self elected ‘hair’ style.

For those not wishing to present themselves to society with thinning hair or baldness there are immediate options such as wearing caps or donning scarves and other ladies head apparel but not all solutions are ‘fashionable’ or meet with the wearer’s personal sense of style, how they like to see themselves.


Hair Systems or ‘Wigs’ – A Paradigm Shift

Unfortunately, even in today’s liberal and eclectic society there remains a stigma attached to wearing a ‘wig’, and it may still take something of a paradigm shift to accept one’s first hair unit. As it did with the wife of the author of this article who, for the purposes of discretion, will be known as Jessica.

Jessica was eventually diagnosed with bladder and pelvic girdle bone cancer just before Christmas 2013. The prognosis was neutral, neither bleak nor optimistic but treatment dictated surgery to remove the bladder tumor and both chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, as well as infusions to strengthen the pelvic bone at Bedford Primrose Unit. Whilst discussing the implications of treatment the topic of hair loss came to the fore.

Jessica had luxuriant almost black hair that as the years advanced she dyed to maintain. It was her pride and joy, and the knowledge she would likely lose much of it brought her to her knees. Whilst the news – the cancer, the treatment and the horror – was sinking in, the emotional impact of her hair loss was too much to bear. Jessica was numb and entirely rejected the ‘wig’ solution.

The weeks passed and she entered her third cycle of chemotherapy, some two months later. Her hair loss was becoming increasingly apparent as she brushed it during her morning ablutions, her once glorious head of hair becoming thinner and thinner. To make matter worse, her treatment denied use of colourant because of the constituent chemicals, so the greys were showing through and there was no way to treat them.

Breakthrough and Acceptance

For a woman especially, loss of hair can result in seclusion – which is what happened to Jessica. She became increasingly housebound, not reluctant but determined not to face the world in her visual condition except for visits to the Primrose Unit to maintain her chemotherapy treatment. Social engagements became restricted to friends and family aware of her condition. Public entertainment was a thing of the past. Isolation set in because she might be seen by others beyond her immediate family; even work friends were excluded from visiting to offer sympathy and friendship.

And then the breakthrough came. It was during a chemo session that Jessica got chatting with another patient and commented on her hair. She was surprised she hadn’t lost it since the other woman had 6 sessions compared to Jessica’s 4. “It’s a wig,” she responded. “But it looks real,” was Jessica’s reply.

Later during that session Jessica asked to speak with a staff member who could offer advice on hair units. She appeared later in the day with a brochure illustrating a range of units available for women. Jessica sat and examined it for half an hour.

We are all presented with challenges in life, many of which concern how we or others perceive ourselves, how we look. Many teenagers suffer from skin problems with outbreaks of spots – acne – as their hormones (androgens) go into overdrive during puberty.


Discrete Hair Studio Client Base

Some of our clients travel over 100 miles to our local studio, seeking hair loss solutions and free no obligation quotations.