Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A note on hair regrowth...

I realize this topic doesn't have the urgency of some past posts, but I'm in a position to post some interesting observations, at least!

* I was told by my original hematologist that hair loss would occur after the high-dose Melphalan administered during the transplants. In reality, my hair loss occured during induction (in fairness to my original oncologist, he didn't anticipate Adriamycin being included in the induction protocol) and I started REGROWING hair during the transplants, particularly on the face. Regular readers may recall my colander-helmet photo taken after the second transplant.

* I was told that it would take about two months before hair started regrowing; this was basically as expected. It took probably another month before I had a decent covering of hair, and two months before I had a full head of hair.

* I was told that hair can grow back in a different texture and different color post-transplant, but that if one's own cells were used, the variability was much less than with other cells. Interestingly, mine did grow back in a different texture (much more fine, initially) and different color (a dusty medium brown rather than dark brown). However, this changed over time, particularly the color. I'm now three months post-commencement of hair regrowth (i.e. five months from the last treatment of chemo...wow!!!!) and my hair is the same color that it was when this whole mess started. Texture, however, is another thing. It isn't as fine as it was, it's a bit richer (not yet how it used to be, but on its way). But I have a patch about two inches square that is very wavy, and I have another patch that grows forward where all around it grows backwards. This makes for hair that doesn't yield to styling. My solution thus far is to keep it quite short...however pulling off that look requires me to lose weight which, given my Dex schedule, is rather challenging. Hopefully I can accomplish something, though! I've had to abandon physical therapy due to the work schedule, but I really need to try to get back there at least once a week, both for weight loss and for maintaining muscle.

* My hair stylist points out that hair cells retain whatever chemicals are in the body for a long time, which makes perfect sense -- we've probably all heard about drug-testing that can be done on a strand of hair that retains literally years of memory. So it's going to take some time for my hair cells to get done regurgitating all the drugs that have been in my system.

So, like I said, not exactly gripping but potentially interesting for somebody about to face their own hair loss situation.

In other news, everything is pretty darn good. I slept poorly last night which is a bad thing since today is a Dex day and that means there could be shakiness ahead. I'm going to continue to follow the suggestion of taking it right before bed this evening.

I'll have a final 2009 post later this week. Hope you are all doing well!


  1. Nick...Not there yet but some questions I have for when I'm there.
    1. How fast do you lose it?
    2. Do you lose all your hair? Arms, lashes, eye brows etc?
    3. Did it all fall out..ie..nothing there?

    I liked this blog because it answered some very simple questions I had.

    Let me know, thanks....

  2. Hi Steven!

    1. It started falling out about two weeks after the conclusion of the round of chemo, and took about a week or so before it looked gnarly enough to shave.

    2. I lost *almost* all my hair. I kept my eyebrows, and some lashes (they thinned but were not gone). Arms were gone, as were legs. Nose hairs, too, which led to some surprise sneezing fits out of nowhere. Armpits, too. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination (gone). :)

    3. More or less, yeah. Like I said, it got to a point where I wanted to shave my head because what was left made me look like I'd staggered in from a post-apocalyptic radioactive world. :)

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