Welcome to Chemo and Me:

A chronicle of chemotherapy's ravages on one's appearance.

Deb Grant was kind enough to provide the scans.

With hair.
This is me in the winter of 1995. Straight brown hair.
The guy on the bucket is Tim Lang,
a Villard dairy farmer with a body that just won't quit.

D-Day was July 18, 1996. Woke up with severe abdominal distress, went under the knife for an appendectomy and woke up to ovarian cancer. The first of six chemos (Taxol/carbo, 24/hour IV infusion) was on July 25 and 26, 1996. I was discharged late morning on the 26th and as soon as I was back on my feet I visited a hair stylist (who was trained in the "Look good, feel good" program) and ordered a wig.

The hair started falling out on Monday, August 5. It would fall away when I washed it, toweled it dry, or brushed it. Morbid curiosity occasionally led me to reach up, grasp a few strands and give a little tug... it painlessly detached with a slight ripping sound, like worn out velcro. By Saturday, August 10th, the morning I was scheduled for a wig fitting, it was pretty much gone. I had what was left cropped short to alleviate the burden of cleaning it out of the shower drain (and off the bathroom floor).

It took about three months for all the body hair to disappear (eyelashes, eyebrows, peach fuzz, arm hair) and that's when it became really demoralizing, looking in the mirror and seeing such a bland face.

Christmas, 1996.
I've got a f-cking egg on my neck.
Last chemo was December 12 and 13.
In addition to the hair, I lost about 20 pounds to chemo.

I started going "topless" (no wig, no turban, no hat) on Saturday, February 1. It was too soon... I was taking a class via Interactive Television and I kept catching glimpses of myself on the monitor and cringing...but it felt great and I hoped that leaving my head uncovered would facilitate rapid hair growth.

Early regrowth
March 10, 1997.
With the extended family in the courtyard of the Monte Carlo in Vegas.
I'm the one holding the baby (my cousin, Patrick).
For those of you familiar with my Dermot Mulroney pages,
yep, these are my dumpster-diving togs.

July 11, 1997.
Two hours before my first haircut in over a year.
Not only is it riotously curly...it's lighter.
But that might be from exposure to the sun.
The top hairs seemed to be straightening out and
I wondered if a haircut would cost me my curls...
but shortening it only made it curlier.
A childhood fantasy come true...
I finally look like Trixie Belden! Gleeps!

An update, Fall 2001. My glorious chemo curls faded after 3 years and I returned to straight brown hair.
Unable to deal with that, I ventured into the beauty salon to try and recapture the golden curl look.
This is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself,
but it costs about $100 every three months, which is a LOT for a civil servant.

I'm Rebecca Webb and I can be reached via e-mail at:

Last Modification: December 26, 2001

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.