My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women

Wiggin’ Out

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Lady Gaga in her own version of a bob.

Lady Gaga in her own version of a bob.

The purpose of chemotherapy is to attack cancer cells which are fast growing.  Unfortunately, while chemo aims to kill those fast growing cells of nastiness, it also kills the other fast growing cells in your body like hair.  That is why women (and men) go bald but I also might lose my eyebrows, lashes, armpit hair and the hair down there (that would be great if it were summer and I could avoid bikini waxes but no such luck).  The good news is that the hair loss is temporary and will grow back once I finish treatment but the question is what to do until then.

I’ve recently thought that I might just go without a wig and do hats and scarves since my insurance won’t cover a wig (cranial prosthesis) but I’m not sure how I’ll feel for months without hair.  I don’t think I’ll know how I’ll react until my hair is gone.  I might be just fine with fancy scarves or I might freak out and run to a wig shop begging to be fitted.

Today, I decided to go try on some wigs just to get a sense of what they are like.  I went with my mom to a place in Staten Island since it was a convenient location.  I’ll admit, I didn’t walk in with the most open mind.  I’m a little closed off these days when it comes to all things cancer but I stayed and I tried.

The sales woman started by saying that when buying a wig, you need to think about 3 things: comfort, cut and color.  I added a number 4, convenience.  I let her know that I spend an average of 5 minutes on my hair and if it was going to take longer than that, I was not going to be interested.  She said that she would show me synthetic wigs since the upkeep is easier.

According to the saleslady, there are two types of synthetic wigs, part time and full time.  Part time wigs are for “special occasions” for when you want to “go out to dinner and change your look.”  Full time wigs are for medical purposes and that you’ll wear to work and out and about.  I mentioned that I work part time so wouldn’t a part time wig suit me better?  I’d wear a scarf at home.  She wouldn’t hear of it.

She showed me three wigs that are “full time” and in a bob style that is similar to my own.  She asked me to keep an open mind.  That it’s a great time to change my look!  Uh…I don’t want to change my look.  I like my look just fine, thanks.  That’s why I have it.

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First, she put a plastic cap on my head for sanitary purposes.  Sexy time!!!!

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Then she showed me the inside of the wig, how it was hand knotted, the silk, the velvet, the straps, all which have different purposes that I can’t remember but mostly so it stays on your head.  Then I tried on my first wig.  Ignore the color.  That can be changed but I hated the style.  No offense to the Hassidic community but I felt like one of the Hassidic women who wear wigs and they, well, look like wigs.  Which they are so, ok.  But not so much for me.  Take a look.IMG_5475

See how unhappy I look?  Pursed lips = not the wig for me.  Bye-bye ugly wig!

Next I tried on a shorter bob.  The picture shows after we really played with it.  The wig on it’s own gave me a mushroom head look.  It was too voluminous.  I kept flattening it out and the saleswoman asked “How flat do you want it?”  “Flatter!!!” Close but no cigar.

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The last wig I tried on I hated at first.  It was a bob but it was too fringy and shaggy, longer in the back and shorter in the front which is not my style at all.  I really like an angled bob where the ends at the front of my face are long and the back is short.  We played with the shape a bit and tucked the long parts in (basically redesigning the wig) but what we got was much closer to what I normally wear.

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Again, the color is not the best but the shape is pretty good.  I tried on the second one again and then this one a few times and this wig started to grow on me.  I was starting to convince myself that I might actually want and wear a wig.

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As the saleslady went to look up the price, I began to play with it.  I brought headbands with me to see what accessories looked like and how they felt.  It was pretty cute (sorry, forgot to take a picture).  The the saleslady came back.  Remember I said that at this point I had really opened up to the experience?  Well, what she said next completely closed the door.

Eight hundred dollars.  $800.  $800 freakin’ fucking dollars!!!!!!!!!!!  For a synthetic wig!!!!!!!!!!!

I gasped, asked if she was joking (she was very serious) and began to cry.  Why had she done this to me?  She asked me what I expecting and I said $300-$400.

Now, this is where the appointment turned sour for me.  My mom very generously offered to kick in for half of the cost which is great but the price still made me sick and I was still crying.  So, instead of showing me wigs in a price that I was comfortable with the saleslady actually said, “Well, your mom is going to give you half so you’d be paying exactly what you expected.”  Ummmm….excuse me????  No!  I’m telling you that I think the price is too much!!!!!

Now, to the saleslady’s credit, I never asked outright for her to show me less expensive wigs.  But I figured that saying that this wig was too damn expensive was a good enough hint that I was not comfortable with this option.  She never offered.  After trying on only 3 options, I left.

Something else that the saleslady said at the beginning of the appointment also rubbed me the wrong way.  When I mentioned that I wasn’t sure that I was going to get a wig she said to me, “Now listen, I’m not saying this just because I want to sell you a wig.  I’m telling you this because I’ve worked with thousands of women.  A woman needs her hair.  A woman needs her hair.”

What does that mean?  When I lose my hair I lose my identity?  I’ll be so traumatized by the bald me that I won’t be able to take it?  Lady, I look in the mirror every single day and see my body transformed by cancer.  It’s not pretty.  Losing my hair is going to suck for sure but it is nothing, NOTHING compared to losing my breast.  Does that make me less of a lady?  Less of a woman?

Fuck that!  I’m still considering getting a wig but I really want to look for a less expensive option.  Now, if in my search I find that a less expensive wig is not as flattering or as comfortable, I’ll reconsider a wig in that price range.  But I’d like to have the option.  I’d like to have the choice.  I have so few of those these days.

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14 thoughts on “Wiggin’ Out

  1. Holy CRAP I’m sorry you went through that. Yes, cute wig. But worth $800??? Wow, no! It doesn’t have to be that way! And she is plain wrong, a woman does NOT need her hair to feel like a woman. I might be unusual in that it never bothered me for a moment to lose my hair- but man, does it steam my muffins when I hear of wig salespeople preying on women with this fear-based patronising crap. Good for you for getting outta there. Now let’s find you some better options!

    • Thanks, Kimberley. I agree, I liked the wig but I didn’t like the price or the sales pitch. I need to see other options in order make the most educated choice. Maybe it is the best for me and I’ll like it the most. Then I’ll find a way to make the price work. But as my only choice? I think not.

  2. Quality wigs can definitely be expensive. These styles look great on you though! I’m thinking of going wig shopping in a few weeks too. Thanks for sharing your story.

    – K.
    http://baldingbeauty.com

    • Let me know how it goes for you. I’ll keep sharing what I learn so hopefully we can be resources to each other. Are you in NY as well? Have you done any wig shopping in the past?

  3. You made a geat choice, great color!! My wig was $790! I had to pay $200 out of pocket for my insurance. Your insurance should pay as there are state mandates for cancer patients (I know A LOT about insurance). If you need info on that you can send me a private message.
    Truthfully I work my wig about 4 times!! , I made the mistake and went really long, so it didnt work well with the hot flashes. The positive was when I was done with it I sold it on Ebay and made my $200 back lol!! I mostly wore scarfs, or scarf hat combo. I went to a Coach outlet and got cute scarfs ones CHEAP, I figured if im going bald im going in stlyle!! Again, when I was done resold them on Ebay lol. I also got a really cheap wig for $20 online, just to give me a option for style. I kinda felt like Dolly Parton changing it up 🙂 No matter what just remember you are pretty with and without hair!!!

    • Btw I ment I like the last wig you posted lol (damn chemobrain). FYI the American Caner Society offers free wigs. I did their Look Good Feel Good program(I already had the wig I bought) they had some very nice wigs they where giving to people for free! So just to give you an extra option, free is also a great price!! Even if its not perfect you can always get it cut into the style you like 🙂 hope this helps

      • I’m doing Look Good Feel Better on Tuesday. I’ll see what they have to offer as well.

      • It’s a great program! I got Chanel lip gloss!!! I was in shock, I would never buy that for myself! You get some great items and it’s just nice to have other people to relate to. It just sucked cause I was the youngest there lol

      • Ya, I’m afraid of being the youngest too. But young people get cancer all the time. What would be worse is if I was the oldest. Then I’d be depressed.

      • That is a good way of looking at it. I would chat with the women who where there knitting telling me about their grand kids it helped pass my hours of infusion. The only thing that baffled me was my oncologist had a tv on in the infusion area. Why?why? Would you have the cooking network on?? Lol

      • HA!!!! Have you written a post about that? That’s amazing that they have the cooking network on. How odd!

    • Ok. So my insurance says that it’s not covered. I live in NY but my insurance is through CA. Any insight?

      • hmmm, I’m going to check at work and see if there are Federal mandates. Because with jersey they have to fully restore your breasts and the wig is covered under your supplemental benefits they need to make sure it’s the correct diagnosis being submitted on the claim, it has to be chemo related. They sometimes put that down wrong. I’m gonna do some research tomorrow on it an get back to you.

      • Thank you! I really appreciate this. This is my first time ever having to deal with insurance because I have been in such good health. It’s like diving into the deep end without knowing how to swim.

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