“Will I lose my hair?” is often one of the first things asked when discussing chemotherapy as a treatment option and the answer is, “Maybe”. It can be confronting and everyone handles that change differently. Some people own it and rock the bald look, and hats off to them! Others don’t feel so comfortable and that’s okay too! It’s important to feel good about yourself during a challenging time, and taking charge of your appearance can be really powerful in how you feel physically and psychologically. Again, this won’t mean the same thing to every person but wearing makeup, a head scarf, a wig or just being pampered can make you feel good and do wonderful things for your mental health.
"Clients say they find the process a wonderfully upbeat experience in a supportive, optimistic and cheerful environment. Women who are dreading losing their hair are given new confidence and some control over a very stressful time in their lives. The Wig Salon volunteers provide a sensational service to these women, supported by the generosity of Epworth Medical Foundation donors."
-Wendy Dawson, Epworth Wig Salon Coordinator
Depending what drugs are used as part of chemotherapy, the frequency of treatment and the dose, it is possible to experience hair loss. It often starts a few weeks after you begin chemotherapy and usually happens pretty quickly. It’s possible to lose hair from anywhere on the body, but eyebrows and eyelashes usually take longer to go (if they go at all).
There are a lots of resources available to people receiving cancer treatment that experience hair loss, and many of them are free! Epworth HealthCare’s Wig Salons are just one of them, but Cancer Council Australia also do amazing work across the whole of Australia.
Is there anything you can do to prevent hair loss?
Scalp cooling machines can be used to help prevent hair-loss during chemotherapy. They’re used to cool the scalp immediately before, after and during chemotherapy treatment. While it’s not guaranteed, there’s a great chance this will drastically reduce your hair loss (if not prevent it altogether).
"In Europe and the UK, women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer have reported successful results and the machines are installed at 1800 centres around the World. There has been success with patients being treated for other cancers– both men and women who are undergoing the most commonly-used chemotherapy drug regimes."
-Miss Jane O’Brien, Epworth Breast Surgeon
People receiving cancer treatment at Epworth have access to their Wig Salons and scalp cooling machines, both thanks to the generous donors through Epworth Medical Foundation.
The Wig Salons at Epworth are run by volunteers and, with the support of professional hairdressers, offer extra services like in-salon trims. They professional fit wigs, and offer alternatives such as silk scarves.
If you or a loved one are dealing with cancer at the moment, we wish you all the best and send you all of our positive thoughts ❤️