The wig maker

Published by pam on Mon, 03/12/2012 - 11:09am


It's still about the hair.  Not sure why, but the hair seems like so monumental.  I mean, I have a life threatening disease that will need to be killed with a frightening arsenal.  And Im worried about the hair?  Am I really that shallow?


Maybe the hair is a big deal because it's such a concrete reminder of what is happening in the rest of my life.  It will once and for all shatter the wall of denial I have constructed for myself.  Once then hair is gone,  everyone will know.  Every conversation will start and end with THE CANCER.  I am having a hard enough time squeezing the disease into an appropriate sized space.  Once the hair is gone, the subject will undoubtably grow like a, well, like a cancer.


I hate the fact that everything revolves around how I am feeling.   In some ways, I wish I had a job, something that would take me out of myself so I could worry about something else, anything else, at least for a while.


But I digress.  The subject of this post is THE HAIR.  How should I handle having no hair?  There are scarves and hats of course.  I always thought I'd be a scarf and hat person, until I watched my mother lose her hair.  She looked so old without hair.  It was hard to hide the expression of sadness on my face,  I wondered how hard it was for her to see it day after day.


So, I looked at wigs.  And they were awful.  I don't have much natural height on the top of my head.  Most wigs use height to camouflage the netting that holds the hair in place.  A flat, straight part, like the one I have, destroys the illusion.  The only thing that looked even remotely plausible was a halo, a circle of hair that sits on the head like a halo and hangs out from a scarf or a hat.  That actually looked pretty good.  A mochachino halo would cost about $100 and would serve to distract people on the ferry or in the supermarket from my plight.  My friends would know, but others wouldn't.


But there was one last possibility, albeit an expensive one.  I could have a wig made out of my own hair.  I decide to meet with a second generation wig maker and find out if it is a plausible alternative for me.  Ryann volunteers to go along.  It is my last outing before my surgery.  She wants me to look at hats and scarves at Nordstrom.  She wants me to make sure I have the make up I need to look my best.  She wants to take me to the eyebrow salon so I can learn to use stencils to create the illusion of eyebrows.  This is something that needs to be done prior to the chemo since the technician will need to identify my natural eyebrow shape.  That is the biggest problem with drawn on eyebrows, just in case you've never given much thought to such things.  You have to duplicate the shape that looks natural on your face.  


She's done her research.  Google and YouTube are her friends.


So, the day before I loose my breasts, Ryann and I head off to the wig maker. And I am reminded that there are beacons of light throughout this process.  The wig maker is one of them.  He shows me his work, the good and the less good.  He talks about what makes a convincing and wearable wig - in terms of both style and comfort.  He tells me about what kind of people find wigs necessary and what kinds of people end up leaving them in a drawer.  He explains that often, once the hair comes off, people aren't as shocked by the change as they expect to be.  It becomes part of the fight.  And for people who don't work and don't have to keep up the illusion that nothing is wrong, he finds that about half way through the process, even if a person has been wearing the wig regularly, they chuck it because the feel empowered, like they are winning the fight.  They don't want to disguise the disease any more.  They want to shout from the roof tops that they are beating it.  


Will I be like that?


Perhaps what gives me the most solace is that he offers to bank my hair.  He will cut it off, map my skull for the wig cap, and he will hold onto my hair until I have made a final decisions. 




It's a part of the service, he tells me.  


If money weren't an object, I would get a wig in a second.  Why not?  Im sure Id wear it often enough to feel the cost was justified.  I would probably order the halo too.  But the cost is not insignificant.  And I know little things will add up. Besides, willy nilly spending makes Marc feel even more out of control and I don't want to push for something purely out of vanity unless I feel like its absolutely necessary.  Banking the hair seems like the perfect solution


The wig maker also gives me a tip for handling the chemo related hair loss.  He says it hurts when the hairs begin to fall out.  Mostly, it hurts when when one sleeps.   He says the follicles get sensitive and when the small shards of hair push back up the follicle, it can be painful.  He recommends duct tape.  Yes duck tape.  It's good for more than just making wallets and prom dresses.  But chemo related hair loss?  Who would have thought?  


Apparently, the adhesive on regular tape is too strong.  It pulls out the good hair with the bad.  Duct tape is a different story, he explains.  It only pulls out the dead hair.


Duct tape.  I never would have guessed.