About this blog

This blog documents the story of our family after our daughter Yasmin was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was two years old, just six weeks after our son Isaac was born. Now, three, Yasmin is on maintenance treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) until October 2014. The first post is here or you can read how we felt when we got the diagnosis and when Yasmin started the most intense phase of treatment. The main purpose of the blog is to raise awareness of childhood leukaemia and money for the different charities that have supported us during the most difficult of times. We have helped raise more than £28,000 for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital where Yasmin is undergoing treatment. Anyone wishing to donate can do so HERE. All money raised goes directly to into research, better facilities and care. We are now also raising money for Haven House Children's Hospice and I will be climbing Ben Nevis in 2014! You can get more information on Facebook or you can follow me on twitter here.
The blog has featured in national newspapers and magazines while the BBC covered our fundraising here and ITV here.

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

ON BALDNESS

Yasmin started losing her hair within weeks of chemotherapy treatment which began six months ago. (I first wrote about this in the Telegraph.) Although her hair thinned out pretty quickly, she did not go bald until months later, in December.
Because the types and amounts of chemo that Yasmin has had changes all of the time, some weeks it starts to grow back as soft down only to thin out again a week or two later. At times there are longer straggly bits, while at others her head is egg-like.
As the hair loss has happened gradually, it has been less of a visual shock to Andrew and I than when it first fell out in clumps in my hand.
When Yasmin is at her most bald, it is really only when we venture out of the house that the reality of it, reflected in the eyes of strangers, hits us.
Of course, everybody looks at a bald child. I always wonder what people are thinking when they see us. I usually suppose that they assume that our daughter has cancer and then I wonder what they think about that.
But apart from once, when a woman of about twenty, old enough to know better, laughed and pointed to her friends behind Yasmin’s back, not realising that I could see, we have not had any negative reactions.
Last week, I took Yasmin and Isaac to the café at the park. As it was half term, it was packed with children, glowing with rosy cheeks from running around in the brisk air. I rehearse to myself my response if any of them ask about her hair.
But none of them did.
Yasmin feeds Isaac his bottle
Yasmin has only mentioned her hair loss about three or four times and appears to remain unbothered by the whole thing. It really is the least of what she has had to put up with. Her main concern about it is that she has been unable to wear hair clips. Today, when I remarked that her hair looked to be growing back because she has one long tuft in the middle, she immediately said: “Can I put my clip in?” “It’s not quite long enough yet,” I smiled. “But you will be able to, soon.”
The cocktail of strong chemos that made up Delayed Intensification have all been consumed and injected. Yasmin is having a whole week off any drugs before she starts the long awaited maintenance treatment next Friday – all being well. I have delayed her start at nursery for one more week to keep her well enough for maintenance treatment to begin.

4 comments:

  1. When people have said to you "It will get easier", you probably found it hard to believe them. However you are now entering that stage. After a few months you will look back and realise that it has indeed been easier, and in fact it was almost from the start of Maintenance, but you just didn't notice. This is because you have been living at such a heightened state, almost running on adrenalin, for so long. You have to live like that, to be prepared for anything - the tantrums, the sickness, the sudden temperature rises, the hair falling out - and when things start quietening down you don't notice, and you don't quite believe it. It will take about a month of Maintenance for you to truly start "coming down" and trusting enough to relax. As to the baldness, I do so hate how it is used as convenient media "shorthand" for "kid fighting cancer" by people who don't understand that hair loss is caused by treatment, not cancer. We had a local news item on TV last night about the QMC Childrens Ward, and sure enough there were lots of shots of bald kids hobbling along the ward pushing drips. Lazy journalism.

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    1. Yes I think you are right and you describe what we have all been through perfectly! Things can only get better!!

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  2. They will get better. Much better. Just trust yourself to get through it, because you are surrounded by more people than you know who also got through the same thing. They will help you on the long journey, and you in turn will help others when they start their journey (which is what you're doing with this blog).

    To the end of my days now, I will always offer help and support to any parents of a child with cancer if I can, in the same way that I was helped and supported. Because we understand.

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    1. What a lovely comment and do very true.

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