One of the side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. I was told by my oncology nurse at the time of my first chemo that this happens around day 17. She was uncannily accurate. I woke up on the morning of the 17th day and my pillow looked like road kill.
"And do you remember you lost your eyebrows and your eyelashes and you looked a bit like an alien?" said Maggie.
Yes I do.
Eyebrows can be drawn, but applying false eyelashes are a no-no because, as the beautician helpfully pointed out when I enquired: "False eyelashes need actual lashes to hold them on." I had been under the misapprehension that they could be glued to my eyelids.
The thing that keeps you going through chemo is knowing that it will end and your hair will grow back. And it did -- initially with curls and a silvery hue. I did a photo-shoot for the Herald and the hairdresser ran his hands over the top of my head.
"I love new hair," he sighed. "You are just like a little duckling."
That same afternoon, I met an old friend and she, too, rubbed the top of my head (it's a feature of hair loss that when it starts to grow back everyone wants to touch it) before declaring my scanty growth "tres chic".
Time moved on and it grew a little more. Josie, my personal hairdresser, managed to source an organic dye and it wasn't long before I was back to my old style and colour and the chemo seemed like a bad dream.
I met this old friend again last August.
We chit-chatted and then she announced that she had something to say and I wasn't to take offence.
"I loved your hair with that touch of grey. It suited you so much better. Why don't you let it grow back?"
I mulled over it for a month and decided, yes, I would do it. Josie hedged her bets. "Let's see what it turns up."
What turned up wasn't what I had imagined.
Steely stripes soon started appearing and while I didn't end up completely grey, what was there looked like bark mulch streaked with milky puke.
"What do you honestly think, girls?" I asked them.
"A badger with mange," said Patsy. (Well I did ask for honesty) Maggie added: "You know that really old guy who lives ... "
I got the message.
"I think a nice chestnut brown will do the trick," said Josie.
I unveiled it at our coffee morning.
"You look like a squirrel and not the grey one, but the cute red lad," said Patsy.
I think that was a compliment.