As a mother to a 4 year daughter with cancer, I put together these ideas to help our family and friends better cope with her hair loss. Now I am sharing them with you in the hopes that you can make this one aspect of the difficult cancer journey just a little bit easier for another family.
Anyone who has seen our daughter, Gabrielle, recently will have undoubtedly noticed how little hair she has left. The following are a few suggestions to help us deal with this difficult part of her journey. I am presenting my suggestions with humor. I hope you aren't too offended and can pick out the sections that are written with sarcasm font
1. So, you know the middle aged guy at the office who has the wicked 1970's comb-over? Everyone knows he doesn't actually have any hair, but to spare his feelings no one ever actually says anything to him. Gabrielle is no different. She has the equivalent of a monk's bowl cut or same-said comb-over. Yes, we know she doesn't really have any hair. She however, either doesn't know or isn't willing to deal with it yet. Please don't comment on her hair. ESPECIALLY not in front of her.
2. The inevitable question: why don't you shave it off? BECAUSE SHE'S A PRINCESS - that's why. Sure the hospital has put up pictures of bald princesses but Gab's no spring chicken and she knows it's a load of BS. She doesn't want to have a bald head - period. So we aren't going to speed things along so it's more comfortable for other folks to look at her.
3. Hats, hats, hats. Gab is perfectly fine just the way she is and who in their right mind wears a hat all day long indoors? We don't want her to feel embarrassed about her appearance, so in our home she will not be encouraged to cover her naked head. Her sister has already been instructed to just ignore the top 1/2 of Gabby's head and to continue to tease her and fight with her about the more usual things, like who made it to the favourite dining room chair first. We have a large and beautiful variety of hats for Gab to wear outside of the house - but given that it's currently 26 degrees C outside, that's a pretty normal thing for most of us to do.
4. Other general questions or concerns answered in rapid fire succession:
Yes, Gab's hair will grow back - starting about six months after intense treatment is over.
Her hair may or may not be the same colour, texture, etc. when it grows back. Will have to wait and see what we get!
Yes, she see's other bald kids at the hospital all of the time and we have thoroughly discussed with her the fact that she will lose her hair. She is choosing to handle it in her own way. She has very little cause or opportunity to see herself at home but she is welcome to look if she likes.
Yes, as her parents we will shave our heads should she want us to. Yesterday she informed me that I should grow my hair out again because she doesn't like it short.
No, we don't expect her sister to do anything special with her hair in support of her sister. This is a hard thing for anyone to do and is asking a lot of a 6 yr old girl.
5. Lastly, PLEASE ASK - but not around Gabby. We appreciate your concern and are always pleased to have comrades in arms. If you have a question, and we can give you the honest answer, we will know you truly understand the situation. That is so much easier for us to handle then awkward, potentially hurtful comments that come out in front of our little girl.