• Rachel Vercoe

Bald at 25

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

FROM having hair down to my butt and being my favourite feature to literally not a hair on my head at 25 years old. What a strange world this is.

Losing my hair was an inevitable reality from when I was diagnosed and it’s been a constant struggle between feeling confident with being bald and completely embarrassed. I was told from the beginning and at my doctors appointment just before my initial chemo it was confirmed again, incase I’d forgotten.

“Just so you realise, you won’t have any hair the next time I see you,” my doctor told me.

I knew.

I’d already read too many other peoples stories on the Internet and could expect it to begin falling out one to two weeks after the initial dose. This was why I chopped it off a few weeks before starting and dyed it different colours. I hadn’t been to a hairdresser in about eight years and had never dyed it in my life. Here was the perfect opportunity to do both.

Fulfilling Edens life long dream of chopping off my hair.

With my family surrounding me, my best friend Eden took the scissors and without hesitating for even a second, chopped off my pony tail. I sent it off to Variety Children's Charity where it will hopefully make some kid feel as good as I did with it.

Eden enjoyed chopping my hair off way too much.

I think my reaction would have been a lot worse seeing my long blonde hair falling out compared to short blue strands. I read it was best to just chop it all off once it started falling out. Save the heartache of seeing it come out over days, weeks, thinning out and getting everywhere.

Thirteen days is all it took from my first round of chemo.

I’d been so keen to dive since starting to feel better from chemo and was invited out in the boat with some friends from Sydney. We’d been in for a few dives and were moving to another spot when I kept getting annoyed because every time I put my hood on, pieces of hair kept getting on my face and in my mask.

I ran my fingers through my hair and out came a handful. It was confronting and I admit a couple tears did fall out before I remembered I’m on a boat full of men and I wasn’t going to cry in front of them.

For the rest of the afternoon I was continuously running my hand through my hair pulling out more and more. It was so strange but I kind of enjoyed it. Weird, I know.

Then the afternoon rolled around and I was done. I’d decided weeks ago that when it started to fall out, I’d buzz it. I was emotional, impatient and just wanted to get it done.

When your hair falls out, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. You just have to go along for the ride and take some control where you can.

With a clipper in hand, strip by strip, off it came. Liberating, distressing, strange and confronting. Whose alien head was that in the mirror?

For the first couple of weeks I wore headscarves non-stop when out in public but as time went on I thought stuff it, this is my life now and there’s no point in hiding it. It’s quite funny watching peoples reactions when I’m bald and out in public. There are looks of confusion, pity, support and staring. I was out for dinner once and a kid stopped to point at me. His parents apologised but I didn’t mind, the kids just curious why I look so strange. I’m often confused by it to, regardless of the hair situation (haha).

The hardest part about it is there's no hiding, my cancer is open to the world through my appearance.

It's a continuous struggle and confronting when I look in the mirror. I'm a cancer patient, bald in all my glory. My big mirror in my room has been taken down because every time I see my reflection it's a reality check.

Luckily, I'm continuously support by friends, family, coworkers and complete strangers who make the struggle just that little bit easier.

I shaved my head with a razor the day after cutting and two weeks later had to do it again. It started growing back but after my second dose of chemo, patches were falling out again. I haven’t had to shave it since.

My armpits haven’t been shaved in six weeks and I’ve had to do my legs only twice so far. Eyebrows and lashes are still hanging in there but I’m told they will thin on the next drug I’ll be on. Suppose I better start practicing using eyebrow make up, eugh.

You don't realise how much hair helps to identify a person until you're forced to lose it.

I can’t wait for my hair to start growing back. One day, it’s going to be back down to my butt again. But for now, I’m mourning the person I use to be and still trying to figure out who I am now.

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