I was out with some girlfriends, having lunch & getting our nails done, and, quite by accident, I caught my reflection in the restaurant window, I was so surprised by what I saw that I did a double-take. The person I was looking at had dark hair pulled back into a ponytail, a real, full, actual ponytail, like a completely normal person. Not a spindly, sad little Steven Seagal ponytail, no Donald Trump/Homer Simpson comb-over. Just a regular, boring, perfect ponytail. "Look!" I giggled, pointing at myself in the glass, "look at that." I felt like Pinocchio when he realizes he's no longer made pf wood. I'm a real girl, I thought. My friends laughed with me and we drank a celebratory toast. I was as happy as I can remember being in a long time.
This morning, when I woke up & realized that it was a dream, my heart broke.
I should have known it was a dream, the getting our nails done part should have tipped me off. My fingernails are still thin & soft and tear if you look at them wrong and my toenails, forget it, they are still coming off. That freaked me out as much this time as it did right after chemo, why in the hell would it be happening now. Like any citizen of the 21st century, I immediately consulted the almighty Google for answers. Google steered me to several breast cancer forums where I learned that this problem isn't super uncommon. Great news, in the alternate universe of Cancerworld. Can I scream? Is that allowed? The last time I saw my oncologist, he said that persistent hair loss after chemotherapy affects 1% of patients and that I am one of that lucky few. Super. At least it was acknowledgement of the situation, I appreciated that. The three dermatologists I've seen for the problem have been 87% useless. Industrial strength Rogaine and a prescription for something usually given to men for their prostate have been the only answers. Oh, wait, there was that other medication that "shows great results", but, "unfortunately, seems linked to an increase in hormonally based cancers. That's not the kind you had, is it?" Um, yeah it is, thanks though. That was the same doctor who assured me that "It really looks like normal pattern baldness." Okay, fair enough. Is that way I still have no eyebrows and only the merest hint of eyelashes? Why my fingernails fold backwards if I push against something? Why my toenails fall off? All part of that same pattern? That makes sense, thanks for your help.
And on a less superficial note, the 1% business makes me wonder if I'm also in that small percentage of patients who don't respond to the Tamoxifen. I know I shouldn't think like that and I'm generally not a negative person, but yeesh, where else is your mind going to go?