With the help of her two little girls, Lindsay Hill found the strength she needed to find positivity in her chemotherapy-related hair loss.
One person can and will make a difference. For me, that person is Julianne. An angel stood at the door with a handful of wigs. She wore an obvious halo.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I was told that I needed to undergo chemotherapy and that I would lose my hair. I cried and the worry occupied my mind constantly: How will my husband feel waking up to me? Will my daughters be scared of my new look? How long until I begin to lose my hair? Who will shave it and when? How will the buzzer feel rolling alongside my scalp? I played it over and over again in my head.
Then, my nurse navigator connected me to Julianne, a model who wanted to pay it forward by providing wigs to women. Julianne provided me with the most beautiful wigs! She brought me so many that I was able to find ones that I felt good in and made me look nice. She gave me instructions on how to wear and wash the wigs, but more importantly, how to feel confident and feminine again. She made me realize that the wigs could help me feel more normal in public and that I needed to change my mindset.
Along with giving me beautiful wigs, Julianne shared her faith, hope and love. She reminded me that my hair would grow back quickly and better than ever, and that this was temporary.
Taking Back Control of MY Hair and MY Cancer
I decided that I was going to do it my way.
I prepared my girls for what was to come once I had a grasp of my own feelings first. My children are three and five. It was important to me that I spin losing my hair in a positive way. I wanted them to know it was a normal thing to happen when mommy’s medicine is working and that it will grow back in time. We played dress up with my wigs and head wraps; they thought it was so fun.
My husband and I made an occasion on “shave-day.” It involved a mini afternoon date day with appetizers and drinks. The day was surreal. It was hard to believe that I was actually about to do this, another hurdle to overcome. It is tough enough to get a diagnosis like mine. I will never forget the doctor telling me, “You have breast cancer.” Within minutes, I thought about how my diagnosis affects not just me but my entire family, and I was so scared to tell them.
After losing my hair, I realized shaving my head actually empowered me and made me feel in control for the first time in six weeks.
Revealing My New Look to My Daughters
I practiced wearing my wigs before, but now, it was game time, and I NEEDED these wigs. I wanted to walk in public looking like everyone else without people feeling bad for me. My biggest fear with hair loss, as I had mentioned, was how will my girls feel about me when they saw me lose my hair. I was quickly showering post shave-day, so I would have time to toss on a wig before the girls saw me. I wasn’t quite ready to reveal myself to them yet.
Things never work out as planned when it comes to children. They found me.
Contrary to what I expected, the girls wore the biggest smiles, and they couldn’t wait to get a closer look. I knelt down between them. They enveloped their arms around my neck and head and just kept rubbing my head. They were in complete awe at how it felt, and my oldest daughter said I look so cool. Like children, parents need approval too.
Their little fingers felt so gentle, and it brought me back to a time when they were born and didn’t have the hair that they have today. It felt like a rebirth of myself. It was such a calming and intimate moment for the three of us. I wouldn’t have that moment if it weren’t for my diagnosis.
Since that day, my daughters do frequently ask when my hair will grow back, and their question helps me stay grounded as I repeatedly answer, “It will grow back in a few short months.” It’s then that I say to myself, “This cancer is only temporary, and I will make the best of it to stay strong for them.”
Hair loss is one of the toughest parts of chemo, but Julianne really helped me so much in moving forward and making the best of it. I’ve found that people do come in your life when you least expect it but need it the most.
I became excited to have so many new looks without the commitment of coloring or cutting my own natural hair like I had to do before. With a wig, there’s no longer such thing as a bad hair day. In addition to a wig, I decided to wear more of my bright and colorful clothing, namely Lilly Pulitzer’s happy patterns. This resort-style really lifted my spirits, and I will continue to wear it year-round. It just makes me feel so alive.
I accessorize far more often now. In the past, I had always kept things pretty plain and simple. As a stay-at-home mom, my go-to look was a pony tail and workout clothes. Once I added more makeup, long trendy necklaces, stacked bracelets, and larger earrings, my energy was focused into someone more polished, especially on the days following chemo when I didn’t feel so polished on the inside.
I tossed all of my old skincare and makeup and bought all new chemical-free beauty products. It was fun to put extra time into my look since I never made it a priority before. All of these things made me feel more feminine and outright normal. The compliments made me feel really good!
Every woman is different, no diagnosis is the same. Through this journey, I have come to realize that everyone gets through it in different ways. I was fortunate to find my way, personal to me.
Find Your Inner Warrior
Women define themselves by their femininity. But being a woman doesn’t mean we need to have hair on our heads. In our own way, it’s about being brave and courageous — accepting what life gives us and finding the silver lining.
Losing my hair was hard, but a lot of good has come out of it as well. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought. I’m not just teaching but actually showing my children what it means to be confident when life throws us lemons. My girls are not scared, and my husband still looks at me the same way every morning — and for that I am blessed.
When I look in the mirror at my bald self, I don’t see a stranger; I see someone that I’m getting to know better. Some people go their whole life not knowing themselves and living in the now, and I’m fortunate enough to say I do as a young, 36-year-old woman.
Find your inner warrior, and you will be surprised at the opportunity that lies ahead.
Penn Medicine offers Cancer Center Boutiques at two locations, because we understand that looking your best can help you feel your best.