Hair loss can be a jarring side effect of chemotherapy. When I was treated for breast cancer, I was nervous about my appearance and decided to wear a wig. At first it was a strange experience, but wearing a wig helped me face the day — and a TV audience. Here are five tips I learned for selecting a wig and wearing it with confidence.
When to try on wigs. Trying on wigs before you lose your hair can help you prepare for the transition. This allows the wig fitter to closely match your hair color and style. Plus, you’ll have a wig ready as soon as you need it. If you wait until later, consider bringing in a few photos of yourself before treatment or pictures of hair styles you like.
- Holding the wig in place. One fear I had was how the wig would stay on my head, especially with my small children tugging at it. But my wig never fell off. Wigs are lined with inner velcro bands and adjust to any head size. They are generally worn with a comfort cap, a cotton cap to protect your bald head and prevent that itchy feeling. Comfort caps also keep wigs from sliding. As back-up, double-sided wig tape or a special wig headband are available, too.
- Keep your sense of humor. Seeing yourself with different hair can be surprising, but I suggest having a little fun with your wig fitting. Perhaps you’d like to try a new hairstyle or a different length. Have you always wanted to go blonde or don a bold color? Now’s your chance. Remember, it’s okay to laugh and find relief in the little things during the process.
- Style your wig. You can style a wig just like normal hair: pull it into a ponytail, pin it back with clips, or add a headband or scarf. You can also take the wig to your regular hairstylist for a professional cut or styling. The important thing is to find a style that makes you feel comfortable.
- What to do when you don’t feel like wearing your wig. Sometimes I didn’t feel like wearing my wig, or I had to take it off to clean it or to sleep. It was handy to have a back-up head covering for those times. I became a big fan of scarves and the slumber cap, and for daily errands and exercising, the hat with hair was a lifesaver!
I know the whole process can seem overwhelming, but remember: Looking good helps you feel good.
Kelley Tuthill is a reporter at WCVB TV Channel 5 in Boston and a breast cancer survivor who was treated at at Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. Tuthill poignantly shared her cancer journey with Channel 5 viewers and on-line users. The cameras followed her from diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to life after cancer. She is also co-author of You Can Do This! Surviving Breast Cancer Without Losing Your Sanity or Your Style.