Dear Caro, dear Stephanie, when you were diagnosed, did you even think about what effect the cancer would have on your appearance?
Caro: I didn't think about the consequences for my appearance at first. My first thoughts were about my job. I had just started a new job, was still on probation and was afraid of losing everything here and getting financial problems. Fortunately, my employer had supported me in every way.
The fear of the external consequences only came when the treatment started and the side effects as well as the hair loss were explained.
Stephanie: At first, it was all about survival. I didn't think at all about my appearance, even if it was important to me otherwise. This only came with the changes, like the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. Then I had the feeling of having such a naked look. That bothered me a lot. Make-up tips then helped here.
At what point did your hair fall out? And does all hair fall out by force at all?
How did you deal with the situation when your first hair fell out?
Did you think about getting a wig from then on?
Caro: You always hope that it won't affect you and that your hair won't fall out, but especially for us young women the chemo is so highly dosed that all hair falls out with a very high guarantee. And that really means all hair on the body! After the first chemo I already noticed how the hair was getting less and less, so I decided to shave it off and to take care of a wig.
Stephanie: My hair started falling out with the second round of chemo, like the doctor said it would.
When the hair fell out, I was not immediately bald as a mirror, I still had stubble, which then gradually diminished.
Today there are methods, e.g. with cooling hoods, to prevent or reduce the hair falling out. This method did not exist in my mamma centre 6 years ago. Today they offer it and many women gratefully accept this offer.
I wanted to have my hair shaved off with the first chemo session. I had long, dark curls. But he refused. He said we'd make you a fashionable bob first, and then when your hair fell out, we could cut it back step by step. That was a great alternative for me. Nevertheless I cried when my hair got shorter. Separating myself from my hair was also a bit of saying goodbye to my "old", accustomed life and not knowing what was to come.
It's a strange thing when you stand in the shower and you see lots of little hair stubbles in the tub, which disappear through the drain. But by that time I had already played with wigs and turbans and felt strong with them.
I had a wig picked out before the first chemo. I wanted to be well prepared. A bit like when you prepare everything before the birth.
How did you get your wig? Who did you have to turn to?
Caro: I went directly to a second hair specialist in my town and got advice from them. Under the following link, for example, you can search for a second hair specialist near you: https://www.bvz-info.de/
Stephanie: I was referred by a great wigmaker at the maternity centre. She comes from the theatre and is very creative and has given me a lot of courage. She has a large selection and then cuts the wig individually. It was a great feeling a few years ago to give this wig back as a donation.
Did you choose a wig that resembles your natural hair, or did you want to try something?
Caro: I really wanted a wig that looked exactly like my "old" hair. But in the end, I even left the wig studio with two wigs. A blonde like my "old" hair and a brunette version. So, I could always vary once and confuse the neighbours ;-)
Stephanie: At "Königinnen" in Eppendorfer Weg in Hamburg I had a great consultation. The owner showed me a wig that really resembled my new bobsleigh hairstyle with my curl structure. During the fittings I also tried out red and blonde hair. After all, this was the opportunity! It was a fun afternoon and it felt incredibly good to laugh.
How did you feel with the wig? What triggered it in you?
Caro: The wig gave me back some security and a bit of normality. You couldn't see the illness at first sight and so I just felt more secure and more myself.
Stephanie: The wig gave me a sense of normality and security, especially at business meetings. As an entrepreneur in the fashion industry I also worked during my chemo and advised clients. But I did not tell every client about my diagnosis. I did not want to confront my customers with my diagnosis and I especially did not want pitiful looks. So I put on my wig, did my job and for a few hours I had forgotten the whole cancer situation. That was just good for me in between.
What did you learn about yourself in that time?
Caro: Phew a lot! I learned a lot about myself and got to know myself and my body better than ever. You set priorities in a completely different way, you dare more and you know to appreciate the little things in life. Just like you know to value your health and don't take it for granted. In addition, I have dealt a lot with the subject of nutrition during the therapy time, trained as a nutritionist and now pass on my knowledge and experience to many more people.
Stephanie: I have learned that I am incredibly strong and that it is good when I completely rearrange my priorities. Family comes first. And an activity that I enjoy very much and in which I can help other people. But if I want to help other people, the first thing I have to do is take good care of myself. Then I have the strength to help other people.
I have also learned that we can do a lot ourselves to strengthen our immune system during chemotherapy, namely through diet, exercise and stress reduction. I have combined these personal insights and my scientific research into this with the association LebensHeldin! e.V. to create a unique Mutmacher video course.
More about it at www.diagnosegesundundgluecklich.de
Thank you both very much for your honesty and your openness. We really appreciate it!
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