How I dealt with permanent hair loss and other side effects

When I first lost my hair due to breast cancer treatment, I often heard people say, “Don’t worry. It’s only hair.” The implication was that it would grow back — eventually. But after a while, I began to notice that it was always the people with a full head of hair who said it. And I am one of the very small percentage of women whose hair didn’t grow back after chemotherapy. So, I am still bald to this day. It doesn’t feel like “just hair” when you’re the only one who doesn’t have any — especially when you’re a woman, and you realize that yours is probably never going to grow back. But I’m OK with being bald now, three years after my breast cancer diagnosis. Because I am cancer-free, too, and that matters far more to me than having hair. Most unexpected treatment side effect: permanent hair loss At first, I couldn’t believe I had to give up both my right breast and my hair to be free of cancer. Because here I was, thinking at least I was going to get my hair back, and it turns out the regrowth I’d experienced after treatment was only due to the steroids I’d been taking. It was totally temporary. I sat in my dermatologist’s office and cried when she told me. It turns out I’d developed alopecia areata, a condition that makes hair fall out in patches. It can be caused by chemotherapy, but it’s usually reversible. I’ve tried a few things since then to get my hair to grow back, but nothing’s really worked. So, I’ve accepted...