In a tone tinged with horror and awe, Akemi exclaimed, “Mom, you have ringlets!” Wet out of the pool in east-coast humidity, my hair was doing its chemo thing. If she had not seen it for herself, I don’t think Akemi would have believed the extent to which my Japanese stick-straight hair has become curly.
All of my life, hair dryers and curling irons have been implements to create the illusion of bend and lift. Moisture always has made my hair go straight and flat, not frizzy. I have heard about how after chemo, hair that was previously straight could grow in curly, and vice versa, and have watched this happen to a number of friends. Since I haven’t lost my hair, I didn’t think this would happen to me, but strangely enough, it has.
Right away after starting chemo almost a year ago, my hair became very brittle and dry. Since it wasn’t falling out, I wasn’t about to complain, and I got lots of advice on how to deal with that. But this curly business really has got me both baffled and fascinated. As each day wears on, I watch my hair start to twist out of its bob with a mind of its own.
Treatments are scheduled through next January, so I still have a ways to go. Will my hair get curlier? Will it go back to being stick-straight once the lingering effects of the chemo dissipate? These are questions that not even my hairdresser knows for sure. (You must be of a certain age to get this punch line.)