Dealing with Cancer and Hair Loss, Part 3

Cancer and Hair Loss

Cancer and Hair Loss are traumatic experiences that combined makes a tough battle. This is the third part in a series of three where Anne Sarte tells about her journey.

Dealing with Cancer and Hair Loss Part 3

The barber who had shaved the last vestiges of my pre-cancer hair had already left for the evening and I was trying to get accustomed to walking around the house bald. So this is how it feels, I thought. I wish I could say I felt all my hair standing on end, but I had no hair! The sensation came from the pores on my scalp that became ultra-sensitive to the air around me.

When I lay on my pillow that night, the top of my head felt really cold. I used to always have the airconditioner on every time I went to sleep, but that night, I could feel the cold seep through my scalp. I thought I had a fever so I got a beanie and put it over my head the rest of the night. Sleep was elusive that first night because the beanie kept slipping off my head as I turned on my pillow.

Everything, including the scarves I used to cover my head during the daytime, had a hard time staying on. My scalp seemed to take on a slippery feel much like a crystal ball. During the one time that I wore a wig when I went out, I felt my scalp was on fire because the wig was so hot! That was the last time I wore that nasty headpiece and finally decided to go au naturel.

I really cannot understand how Dwayne Johnson, Andre Agassi, or Michael Jordan – who are on the list of the hottest bald men of all time – can go around in public without any problem, while people who go bald because of cancer cause others to feel so uncomfortable. And for most people with this disease, cancer and hair loss go together, so there is not much to do about it.

This double standard had to stop and I thought of doing something about it. I got my smartphone and took a couple of selfies when no one was looking and surprised everyone on Facebook the next day with my clean-shaven pate. Before that time, only my family and a couple of friends knew that I was diagnosed with cancer so when the rest of the world got in on my secret, I received a mixture of reactions from everyone on my list.

To this day, I remain extremely grateful to family and friends who, despite their initial surprise, poured out their love, support and prayers. They sent me messages on my Facebook wall and in my inbox. Some sent me books to read and lots of food to eat. While many were generous in their encouragement and support, some became stoic and did not know what to say. It seemed as if my coming out bald in a public space was an affront to them and someone even told me to take my photo down.

Cancer and Hair Loss
Some cancer patients wear wigs or scarves, while some feel more comfortable going natural.

It is true that challenges bring out the best or worst in people, and life events show you who your real family and friends are. That period was the moment of truth – when I started to see the true colors of the people around me and it was both enlightening and liberating at the same time. Before my illness – and before you could see it on me – I was slim and fit, on top of my game, and was doing the rounds of international real estate and financial services.

When I fell ill and was undergoing chemo sessions, I became weak and very sickly because my immune system had buckled down. I had lost a breast and all my hair, yes, but I was, and still am, the same person inside.

I don’t think anyone’s self-worth should be defined by how one looks, or may appear to look like, at a particular time. After all, beauty, like time, is fleeting but the true essence of a person is found deep within.

In my battle against cancer, I learned seven important lessons that I always go back to until this day:

  1. The greatest investment you can make in your life is the time you spend with your loved ones, for you do not have forever to be with them.
  1. The second great investment that we always neglect is our health – we work so hard for money and comforts when we are young, but we spend so much to get our health back when we grow old.
  1. The people who stick by you in good times and in bad are the only people you really need in your life – the rest are just like driftwood, waiting to be washed over again to another shore.
  1. We learn to value people or things only when we lose them. I appreciated my body more when I lost my health. I learned the value of my hair when I felt cold and bare. I realized that every function of my body that I took for granted before was important to my well-being. I became aware of the full worth of every single day that I was alive, and was thankful for each moment with my loved ones.
  1. Do not give anyone permission to pull you down. Each one of us leads unique lives, and no one should ever be allowed to mess with yours.
  1. My hair mirrored my life. Setbacks were temporary. I learned that even as it went through the entire catagen phase of slowing down and breaking at the roots, it had to go through the telogen process of being wiped out much like a purging of the bad things in my life. It was an inconvenient necessity but it made me look forward to experiencing a rebirth and moving on to its anagen stage when everything starts anew.

For my physical body to heal, I also had to heal myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I had to forgive myself and others for past mistakes, let go of the negativities in life, and surrender myself to the one true God who created me.


Text by Anne Sarte

This was the last part in a series of three.

Photo credits: cea + via Flickr

liz west via Flickr

 

How to Prevent Dry Scalp and Hair Loss

Dry Scalp and Hair Loss

A lot of how we look depends on the health and condition of our hair. A healthy scalp provides nourishment for your hair and its roots. It also keeps our hair looking healthy, where an unhealthy one can cause dry scalp and hair loss. But when problems with our scalp arise, so do problems with our hair. They are both linked. You cannot have healthy hair without a healthy scalp.

One of the biggest factors that surround dry scalp and thinning hair is the weather. You will notice that your scalp feels drier in winter, and your hair is more brittle. A dry scalp will decrease the health of your hair, and you will see more breakage during the winter.
While a dry scalp may not necessarily directly cause hair loss, the problems that accompany a dry scalp may contribute to the thinning of hair, as well as hair loss.

Dry scalps are itchy, and what do we do when we are itching? We scratch. When you scratch your scalp, you dislodge the dead skin cells which are produced during the normal hair growth cycle.
An itchy scalp also causes dandruff due to dryness. Dandruff is a problem that plagues many people, but this could also be a sign that your scalp is not healthy. If left untreated, a dry scalp could cause long lasting damage to your hair, so don’t wait too long before you take action.

Causes of Dry Scalp and Hair Loss

There are many reasons why your scalp gets dry and itchy, one of them being stress. Many people do report dry skin and scalp issues after a period of tremendous stress, so make sure to evaluate your life when you start losing hair and your scalp starts to itch.
Another big factor that causes dry scalp is the hair products you use. Some of them contain chemicals and ingredients that could be harsh for your hair and scalp. If you are sensitive to perfumes in hair products or to certain chemicals, your scalp could react to them, causing dry scalp.
Skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and Psoriasis could also cause hair problems, but this can be treated; consult a dermatologist.

Unhealthy lifestyles can cause hair loss as well. If you eat poorly, never sleep, or never take care of medical conditions, your hair may start to fall out, or your scalp may begin to dry.

Dry Scalp and Hair Loss
Make sure to invest in a good hair oil – the perfect cure to prevent a dry scalp.

How to Avoid Hair Loss Due to Dry Scalp

Our hair plays a huge role in our self-esteem. So factors like our diet and hair care play a vital role in preventing a dry scalp from forming. Moisturize your scalp by using certain oils, and condition the skin in your scalp. Avoid overuse of electrical hair appliances that dry out your hair and skin cells.

Eat a well-balanced diet so that your body receives enough nutrients to moisturize the scalp and maintain a healthy oil level. If you are uncertain if you are getting all the vitamins you need through your diet, taking a supplement that supports healthy hair growth can be a good way of making sure. Last but not least, avoid scratching your scalp. The rubbing causes friction, which dislodges the hair and can cause hair loss.
Often, your hair loss can be easily rectified by simply working to moisturize and hydrate your scalp. Don’t ignore dandruff – or you could start losing your hair!

Testosterone and Hair Loss – Why It Is Important To Get Diagnosed

Testosterone and Hair Loss – Why It Is Important To Get Diagnosed

Testosterone and hair loss often coexists. There is some good news: testosterone can be a good thing. It makes us self-confident, vibrant and gets us in the mood. The bad? Too much could make your life miserable and anxious, triggering an abundance of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. We might seek out comfort foods, causing weight gain, lethargy and an increase in even more hormones. But elevated hormone levels can also be a symptom of a more serious disease, so it’s important to see a physician if this might be the case.

What Causes Hair Loss and How to Help Fight It

There is not only one thing causing hair loss – more often than not, it is caused by many different factors, some simultaneously. Examples can be aging, hormone imbalance, stress, vitamin deficiency or poor scalp circulation.

Since hair loss is typically multi-factorial, it only stands to reason that it would be beneficial to address it with many synergistically working ingredients.

The ingredients in Nutrafol include vitamins and minerals, but also natural adaptogens and substances like saw palmetto that inhibit the production of DHT (we’ll talk about that more later). Nutrafol also contains botanicals, antioxidants. Below we will go through some common diagnoses that can lead to increased levels of testosterone and hair loss.

Testosterone and Hair Loss
Testosterone can be a good thing but too much might your life miserable.

5 Times When Skyrocketing Testosterone can Lead to Hair Loss

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): 5 to 10 percent of American women are affected by this hormonal-endocrine disorder. It is often hard to diagnose because of the abundance of symptoms. Women with PCOS produce excessive testosterone, leading to hair loss on the head, but increased hair growth on the face or other body parts. Very often, these women become overweight or obese and also experience acne. Early detection is crucial since it can also lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Adrenal Disease: When someone lacks a specific enzyme called enzyme 21-hydroxylase, their body cannot secrete enough of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. The very sensitive balance of hormones in the body is then disrupted. When the adrenal senses low levels of cortisone it starts flooding the body with other hormones, which can result in an excess of androgens, or male steroid hormones. This leads to disrupted hair growth, among other things.

Hyperthyroidism: This thyroid disease leads to elevated levels of testosterone in both men and women. The thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine and speeds up the body’s metabolism. This leads to weight loss, rapid heartbeats, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and more. And consequently, increased testosterone and hair loss.

Male pattern baldness: While it is not testosterone per se that bald men have too much of, it IS a sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Cells in the scalp convert the testosterone to DHT, which some hair follicles are more sensitive to and therefore shrink until they become non-existent.

It’s important to note is that a genetic predisposition does not mean that you absolutely will experience the same things that seem to run in the family. However, your body is likely more sensitive to a specific hormone or substance, in this case DHT.

Menopause: Many women experience the sharp drop in estrogen and progesterone and an increase in testosterone during menopause, which is an inevitable part of aging.

Hair Follicles – Very Sensitive to Inner and Outer Factors

Almost anything can disrupt our hair follicles. Internal triggers can be hormone imbalances, stress, vitamin deficiency, illness, medications or genes. External ones are for example pollution, over-styling and chemicals.

Even though higher levels of testosterone and hair loss are unavoidable during some stages in life, it does not need to be now. Natural supplements can help restore hormone levels in the body and promote a healthier scalp. That is why it’s beneficial to understand the science behind improved hair health.