For people who‘ve undergone treatments for cancer, hair loss is a common but nevertheless stressful side effect. And, contrary to popular belief, the hard part isn’t over when your hair starts to return. Here, survivor Kelly Mellott shares her experiences with learning to embrace her new hair (and the comment she wishes other people would quit making about it). This story is part of our series on women’s experiences with cancer & hair loss.
Name: Kelly Mellott (@kmellott)
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Profession: Health care content marketing and social media marketing
Diagnosis: Breast cancer, diagnosed at 32, and BRCA1 genetic mutation, a genetic mutation that greatly increases a woman’s risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.
My hair was long before I started treatment but I always disliked it, so I never really mourned the loss of having long hair as much as I did the idea of what baldness represented — being sick. The hair on my head started growing back in during the last few rounds of chemo, male-pattern-baldness style like a little baby bird. But my eyebrows and eyelashes, which had still managed to hang on by a few hairs until then, all finally fell out at that time so it was really frustrating!
Everything was coming and going and growing at different times. I got my hair trimmed and dyed as soon as I had enough to work with. I was really lucky to have a dear friend who’s a hairstylist — she gave me someone I could trust when I was bald and feeling vulnerable or during those awkward patchy phases. Her help support helped me make choices that better facilitate my hair goals.