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Amanda.

Location: New York, USA
Cancer type: Breast
Drug type: Taxol
Hair type: Long

"Keeping my hair has kept my diagnosis private, and has allowed the world, and myself, to see me for what I am – a new mom. Not a cancer patient. "

I was diagnosed when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child, I was told by my oncologist that HER2+ breast cancers require chemotherapy as part of treatment. Right as I choked out “what about my hair?,” she told me that scalp cooling was successful with the type of regimen I was on – Taxol. After working in healthcare public relations on a breast cancer drug for more than five years, I was shocked I’d never heard about it.

My mother and I watched the videos over and over and felt confident in what we were doing. It was not as uncomfortable as I expected, I always brought a friend or family member with a sense of humour with me. They kept me busy, kept me smiling, and made sure I was comfortable. I also had a big bottle of water and a few of my favorite tea bags. Mint tea kept me toasty!

I only used coconut oil for styling. I would wash my hair the night after chemo, and 3-4 nights later. I’d use the Paxman shampoo and the Paxman conditioner on my roots. Every night I slept on a silk pillowcase with a silk eyemask, to protect my hair and eyebrows. I tried to keep my hair down as much as possible, but used silk scrunchies if I ever needed to put it up.

I lost hair at my hairline and underneath my hair. But no one could tell but me. Remember when there was the trend where people shaved the area under their hair near the neck? That’s what I looked like, to a small degree. I was terrified of being the bald mom pushing her baby’s stroller. I didn’t want to be pitied, and I didn’t want to be branded as anything but a new mom. Keeping my hair has kept my diagnosis private, and has allowed the world, and myself, to see me for what I am – a new mom. Not a cancer patient. Keeping your hair is not for vanity. It’s for dignity, and to give you the focus and strength to fight this. Feeling like myself has I truly think helped me deal with the trauma of being diagnosed. Yes I have breast cancer, but yes I am still Amanda.

When I go out, no one knows that I went through chemotherapy unless I tell them. My friends, family, and husband at times forget that I’m sick. I’m invited to social events, treated like I’ve always been. Many of my coworkers don’t even know!

Thank you to my family and best friends, who came to chemo, cheered me on from home, checked in on me, brought my socks, made me laugh, rubbed me feet. You’re all the reason why I’m still me.

 

"Keeping your hair is not for vanity. It’s for dignity, and to give you the focus and strength to fight this. Feeling like myself has I truly think helped me deal with the trauma of being diagnosed. Yes I have breast cancer, but yes I am still Amanda."

 
 

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