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