Sheila was devastated when she lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatment. She hated her wig but was scared to go out without it. She tells us how she overcame her fear and ditch her wig to become the strong person that she is today.
I didn’t believe it
I found a lump in early December 2014. My doctor thought it probably wasn’t something to worry about, so I didn’t give it another thought over Christmas and New Year.
Tests confirmed, however, that the lump was breast cancer. Suddenly there were a flurry of letters and appointments to meet healthcare professionals.
I thought, “why are they doing this?” I expected a phone call to say they’d got it wrong.
I asked my partner, Ross, to check if it was really my name on the letters.
I was told I would lose my hair
Reality hit home when I met my breast care nurse, who explained what was going to happen. She told me I was going to lose my shoulder length blonde hair.
I had been blonde since my mid-30s and I loved it. That’s when it really hit me that this was serious.
Going through treatment was horrendous, and the chemotherapy made me very ill. I went totally off food, I felt sick, I had everything going.
I dreaded losing my hair the most. Eventually I went to a hairdresser to get it shaved off.
I waited until the last minute. Hair was falling out everywhere.
Despite my initial fear, when the hair was finally gone, a weight had been lifted.
I thought: I can do this.
Deciding to ditch the wig
I was adamant that I would wear a wig until my hair grew back.
I hated my wig with a passion. I hated wearing it and was terrified it would fall off. But I didn’t want to go out without it.
A few months after my treatment finished, I had a sudden change of heart. I woke up one Saturday morning in September. My hair was about a quarter of an inch long. I came downstairs and said to Ross: ‘I’m not wearing my wig anymore’.
I phoned my mum and my best friend Nancy to tell them I was ditching my wig.
That night, I went out for the first time without it.
Ross’s family own a nightclub. I went to the club that night with no wig on and I felt great. It was the first time I accepted me for who I am.
You’re not alone
I wasted a lot of energy on the way I looked. That person with the long blonde hair isn’t here anymore.
I’m happy with my life. I’ve got my family, my home, Ross, the dogs. These experiences taught me that.
My advice to anyone going through breast cancer is to use all the support you can muster. Family, friends, and information and support from Breast Cancer Care.
I’m a stronger person because of what I’ve gone through.