Day 5 – Off With the Hair   October 11th, 2011

I kept hoping I would be among the 1% of chemotherapy patients who wouldn’t suffer hair loss, but this morning as I scratched my head upon waking up, I managed to pull a clump of hair out. So put me on the 99% side of the hair loss column.

Pulling hair out of my head led me to figure out what other hair will fall out too, and some careful exploration suggests I will retain my arm and leg hair, I may keep my eyebrows and some of my already meager chest hair, but everything else is going.

My nurse this morning mentioned that a recent female chemo patient wore a shirt that said “Chemotherapy Gave Me the Best Brazilian” (I hope I don’t have to explain that further, but if I do, it refers to wax, hair removal, and pain in sensitive regions). It put a smile on my face.

Instead of having clumps of hair falling out all over the place, I decided to take some decisive action, and have Linda shave my head for me – that will only leave stubble to fall out in the coming days.

Linda starts shaving Jake's head

Linda starts shaving Jake's head

In the above image, and the subsequent ones, you may notice a dark mark under my right eye. That’s apparently a burst capillary from a coughing fit I had a few nights back. It is not the result of anyone beating me.

The first step in the head shave was to achieve equilibrium, in the form of a mohawk, as pictured below:

The interim phase of the head shave - a mohawk

The interim phase of the head shave - a mohawk

After that it was a matter of simply shaving off everything that was guaranteed to be falling out anyhow, including my mustache and beard – facial features my kids have never seen me without. Krystyana was cool with that (all these photos are hers), but Bas was a little creeped out.

The final result is below, taken while I was in bed getting yet another blood transfusion (after getting platelets this morning).

Jake with a baldish head while getting his latest blood transfusion

Jake with a baldish head while getting his latest blood transfusion

A couple of things I have discovered with my new-nearly bald head: First, my head gets cold quickly. Linda got me a skull cap a few weeks ago, and that is helping. I also bought myself a monkey head cap (like little kids might wear in winter) at a state fair several weeks ago for when I need to amuse myself. I also have a baseball hat, and a good friend is knitting me another cap.

Second, I now find myself baffled by whether I should use shampoo or soap on my head. I stuck with shampoo this morning only because it was the comfortable, safe option (plus it’s Baby Shampoo, so no tears). But if any of you who are bald or have gone through chemo have input, it would be appreciated.

My understanding is that over the coming few days all my stubble will be falling out. One friend suggested (coming from her friend who had undergone chemo herself) that one of those lint remover rollers that uses light adhesive tape might be a good way to assist the process. Linda and Krystyana are out exploring, so hopefully they will bring one back so we can experiment.

Other than the hair loss excitement today, it’s a pretty routine day: Platelets, blood transfusions, lots of drugs, rest, and struggling with dry mouth. One interesting (although obvious) note: if you get a nose bleed when your platelet counts are down (I was at 13000 today) the bleeding doesn’t stop very easily. I’ve been told my blood counts should start showing a slow increase in a few days, and as with everything, it’s only a matter of time.

While I try to express my thanks privately, I want to give many public thanks to my awesome family caregivers – Linda, Bas, and Krystyana – and to the excellent nursing staff here at the clinic.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 14:49 and is filed under Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.Both comments and pings are currently closed.

14 Responses

October 11th, 2011 at 15:08
Martin Says:

Hi Bro,

We (angela and I) are a bit scared… Scared about the resemblance between the 2 S.B.C.’s, now that you have no hair… I do prefer soap when washing my head, btw…

We are glad you only have minor side effects (although loosing your taste is not something you will enjoy, but it is temporarely…) and that you are able to remain your positive self.

A friend of us has made a trip to China to find assistance in fighting her breast cancer. She went to the Beijing Wisdom Healing Center ( to practice ZhiNeng QiGong. She managed to get her cancer cell count down, while according to the doctors in The Netherlands she should be happy if the count would remain the same (instead of rising).

We hope we will see each other real soon! For now: Here is to NED!.


October 11th, 2011 at 16:14
Jenna Says:

How long is your treatment? When do you think you’ll head back to Boston?

And, for the record, I LOVED the mohawk picture. I would never have guessed that the style would suit you so well. But seeing your facial features is good too… :-)


October 11th, 2011 at 17:27
Yana H Says:

Loved the mohawk look! It was great to see a “Jake” smile in the last photo.
My best to your wonderful family – Linda, Krystyana, and Bas.

October 11th, 2011 at 21:08
LaDonna Says:

your rocking’ the bald look…..and now you do resemble our little brother…..of course with the height difference it is still rather easy to tell you apart :D

Love you!

October 11th, 2011 at 22:24
Tracy Griffin Says:

To N.E.D.! Keep up the great work, Jake! Sounds like Linda, the kids, and the staff at NIC are also doing a fantastic job! We are continuing to knock on wood and cross our fingers for you!
Tracy & Mike Griffin

October 11th, 2011 at 23:41
dara Says:

hmmm…a Mohawk, tattoos (albeit gibberish tattoos), a bit of a black eye…are you hiding a leather jacket and Harley under the bed? The other side of the renaissance man :-)

October 12th, 2011 at 02:13
Dad Says:

Except for the remnants of your beard you look exactly like the first two months after you were born in New York. We loved it then and we love it now, too. The photo, proving that what I wrote true on is on its way to you via email. Love, dad and mom

October 12th, 2011 at 05:08
Jarmila Richter Says:

Kojak went very popular with his bald head. His image was one of a charming and bright detective in the charge of every scene he shoved up in. Take you clues.
Love you, mom.

October 12th, 2011 at 11:06
Barbara Leary Says:

It is a good look for you! Glad to hear things are going smoothly – no pun? ;-)
Hope to see you in Boston in a few weeks.

October 12th, 2011 at 14:07
Sam Says:

I’m loving it… the Mr Clean look definitely works for you! Sending big hugs! xoxox

October 12th, 2011 at 14:30
Tara Smith Says:

You look marvelous – perfect head for the bald look! And now to have some fun with all the crazy hats :)
Big hugs and healing white light to you and the family.
Much Love!

October 12th, 2011 at 15:23
Cynde Says:

Love love love the Mohawk :-) Now you and Martin can share bald head techniques, shampoos, lotions, etc…tee hee…hope the dry mouth situation clears up soon…bleh!

We will now want pictures of you in your hat and cap collection please :)

Hugs to you, Linda, Krystyana, and Bas. BTW, please tell Linda she has importante FB email.

Hugs and love, thinking of you every day as I look at my black ribbon bracelet (that never comes off).


October 13th, 2011 at 00:38
Harrie & Carmelita Says:

You look good with your new coiffure.

Go on with the fighting, the good cells (in movies normally the white ones, ref. StarWars) must and will win.
This really is a heavy, heavy treatment. And you must be a very strong person (we knew that already), to go through all this, and still keep going. Good luck!

Carmelita & Harrie

October 14th, 2011 at 14:34
Linda #2 Says:

Love the Mohawk! Jake, you are a cute baldie! Keep the keppe warm! (Keppe = Yiddish for head)

Linda #2