Even if you’re not going through chemo treatment yourself, it can be hard to help a friend when they’re dealing with side effects like hair loss. Yes, logically it is superficial and will grow back; but it can be an emotionally charged event. Hair, especially women’s hair, can be a part of one’s persona. And feeling like they are losing a piece of their persona to cancer treatment is understandably deeply upsetting.
However, there are ways to support friends through this difficult time that don’t involve pretending like the cancer and its treatment aren’t happening at all. Here are some ideas for helping them cope with their newly bald head while making sure they know they’re still the same wonderful person they were before.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Losing hair for any reason can alter one’s self esteem. One way to support someone going through this is simply with encouraging words. BUT be careful, because there is a fine line you’ll need to walk between offering encouraging, loving words and dismissing what she is feeling. Try to avoid saying things like “It will grow back!” Statements like this can seem like you are minimizing what your friend or family member is going through. Instead, acknowledge what they are going through, but also offer love and support. Here are some examples we like:
“Ooh, I just love the turban you are wearing - is it comfortable?”
“How are managing with your hair loss? Can I take you shopping for scarves or head covers?”
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
It’s entirely understandable that a newly bald friend wants to hole up at home and avoid interacting with others. Having to answer well meaning questions from acquaintances about their treatments, illness, or baldness can feel like a violation of their privacy. But hiding out can bring on depression; better to rip off the Band-Aid, go outside and face the world. As a friend, you can help them get out of the house. Acknowledge how hard that is to do, then offer to go with them on their first few outings. This will hopefully give them the strength and support they need to face their new reality.
We like the idea of starting out with a trip where they are unlikely to run into too many people, like taking a walk in the park, or going to a movie in a dark theater. As they become more comfortable in public, you can gradually move on to more populous locations like shopping malls, grocery stores, and restaurants.
PROVIDE THE TOOLS THEY NEED
Since it’s hard to know how much of your friend’s hair is going to fall out, or when they will start losing it, you want to make sure they have everything they need to feel prepared. You can do that by giving them a care package with things that will help them feel better and more put together. We love our Soothing Skin & Lips package, as well as all of the options in our Chemotherapy Product Line.
At the end of the day, your loved one needs to know that their hair does not define them and they are beautiful with a full head of hair or entirely hairless. Hopefully these tips can help provide the support they need through this difficult time. If you or someone you know have been through this experience, comment what helped you or your loved one down below!