Upon any diagnosis of a serious health problem, you’ll be given an entire rainforest’s worth of information leaflets. I assume that the main purpose of these are to put a patient’s mind at ease in a worrying time, but in my case, this was a spectacular failure for two reasons. Firstly, being given a list of local funeral directors and will-writers is not a precursor to a relaxing night’s sleep. Secondly, upon reading the infinite list of possible treatment side effects, I saw ‘complete or partial hair loss’ casually tossed in amongst insignificant things such as heart failure or permanent lung damage.
Any person who has ever given me so much as a fleeting glance will realise that this is the single worst thing that could possibly happen to me. I’ve never made a secret of my vanity — I’ve often been mocked for my vast hairspray collection, and I used to spend countless mornings persuading my Mum to write a sick note for the previous day of school because I was having a bad hair day and refused to go in.
However, now it appears that such callous actions have blown up in my face in the form of karma-induced hair loss. Of course, some doctors may tell you that it’s down to an awful drug slowly but surely destroying almost every cell in my body, but they’d say anything to sound like they know something that a common man doesn’t. It’s almost definitely karma pixies pulling it out strand by strand with maniacal glee, teaching me tiny lesson after tiny lesson.
My nurse has said that it would be unusual for me to lose my hair completely, but I should be ‘prepared for some thinning‘ which I thought was a terrifyingly vague statement. Will I end up as the first nineteen-year-old in history to adopt a comb-over? Also, if this is true and I do have some of my original hair at the end, I’ll surely have two very different lengths of ridiculous hair when what I have lost begins to grow back. New hair can apparently be a completely different colour to the original, so I could easily end up looking like an incredibly shit and low-budget Batman villain.
I’ve voiced these concerns with my nursing team, which often leads to hilarious jokes about my vanity. They just don’t understand why my hair is so important, stupidly believing that I’d be more concerned with overcoming cancer than whether I look sexy on the ward. But who knows who I could meet? A woman under 93 has to enter the haematology unit at some point and, when that day comes, I will be prepared to pounce.