Before I started chemotherapy I was told that I was going to lose my hair. In some ways this hit me harder than the news that the cancer had returned. I think it was because I knew that with my hair gone, I was going to look like a sick person. When I had my initial cancer treatment in 2015 I looked fine throughout. Even if I didn’t feel great on the inside, on the outside nobody could tell. But without my hair, there’d be no hiding the fact that I had cancer.
I was told I could expect my hair to start falling out within four to six weeks of starting chemo and advised to go wig shopping sooner rather than later. The logic there being that if you get your wig in advance of losing your hair it’s easier to get one that looks like your natural hair and it gives you a chance to get used to it in advance – rather than only putting it on for the first time after your hair has gone. There’s a few places you can pick from to buy a wig in Cork but I decided to go with Hairspray. I’d read great reviews of their wig service and it seemed more like my kind of place than some of the others. So I made an appointment for a consultation and off I went.
I knew I didn’t want to go on my own as I was nervous enough just at the prospect of it. So I asked my sister Laura to come with me. She was the perfect choice because I knew she’d be honest with me and also we might manage to have a bit of fun with it. So we went to Hairspray on a Saturday afternoon and met with a wig consultant. There’s a little private room in the back of the shop specifically for consultations so you don’t feel like you’re on display to the world. The consultant herself was fantastic – she knew exactly what would suit me and she was very considerate of how I was feeling. After a short discussion she went away and got some wigs for me to try – the first one she gave me ended up being the one I bought. It looked exactly like my own hair, only much nicer!
I also had to try on a few more though – just for fun! We did a lot of laughing until it hit me that soon I was going to be wearing one of these for real and it wasn’t going to be so funny then.
The laughs started again when I got home with the wig though and I got Steve to try it on. I don’t have photographic evidence but trust me when I say, the man can’t pull off long hair!
I also picked up a couple of slightly more unusual wigs – just for fun. There’s often not a lot to laugh about with cancer so I like to try and have a bit of craic when I can. I highly recommend checking out Lush Wigs to see their range of colourful wigs – not matter how crazy a look you want you’ll find it there. And I get more compliments on my pink wig then on anything else I wear!
Now for the practical part. Wigs come in a few types – human hair, synthetic, or a mixture. Human hair looks the most realistic and can be treated pretty much as you’d treat your own hair – washed, styled etc. But it’s much more expensive. Synthetic wigs are cheaper but don’t look as realistic and can tend to be a bit staticky. The cost of wigs varies massively but none of them are what you’d call cheap. The HSE provides a grant to medical card holders which will cover some of the cost of it. Some health insurance companies will also cover some or all of the cost for you. And you can claim tax back through the Med1 form if you’re not eligible for any of the other options.