Stimulating hair growth after chemo

Like most people who have lost their hair through chemo, I couldn’t wait for it to start coming back. Being bald made me feel utterly ugly; I yearned for the first sign of regrowth for fear that it wouldn’t regrow at all.

hair growth first stages

Then, as soon as hair started to reappear I wanted it to grow thicker and fuller and quicker.

Slowly but shorly

I’m not alone either – I’ve seen lots of people asking questions on message boards and support groups about how they can encourage their hair to grow back quicker. Many people reply with shampoo recommendations, which is all very well but do they work? I have no idea but one thing I do know is: we are what we eat. Or what we put into our bodies, I should say.

Our hair didn’t fall out because of something we put onto it, it fell out because of the ‘poison’ we had running through our veins. So what we put into our blood is going to affect how best our hair grows back, far more than any shampoo can, right?

My hair started to grow back in February whilst I was having radiotherapy – slowly at first and now I’ve got a thick covering of gorgeously soft hair. I’m pretty pleased with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like an ugly adolescent boy but it’s a start. And I’m pretty sure, although I can’t promise it’s the case, that my speedy regrowth is down to the pretty slick vitamin regime I’ve got going on. Oh yes, a healthy diet is far more than a good portion of fruit and veg and if we were to get all the vitamins we need via our diet alone, we’d be eating all the time (does sound appealing, doesn’t it – unfortunately chocolate and ice cream isn’t included).

So, ‘what supplements help with hair growth?’ I hear you cry. Here lies the secret:

BVitamin B The vitamin B group is called a complex – vitamin B complex. The combination of B1, B2, B3, B5 and B7 nourish the hair follicles. The B complex is found in high protein foods like fish, red meat, eggs and dark green veg. I’m taking these, which contain B1 and 2 and biotin (B7), which helps to improve the keratin structure (the protein than makes up hair, skin and nails).

Vitamin C Not only is this the saviour of the common cold, it also helps with the production of collagen which forms part of the hair structure. Get this in your diet via oranges and lemons (as well as lots of other fruit and veg) or keep your levels topped up with vitamin supplements. I’m taking these slow release tablets once a day.

EVitamin E Vitamin E helps improve the circulation of blood around the body, including to the scalp, which helps a steady supply of nutrients get to the hair follicles, boosting strong and healthy hair growth. It’s also good for your immune system, which is always a bonus when you’re building your body back up after chemo. I’m taking these but you should also eat nuts, seeds and leafy green veg to get it into your diet.

Omega 3, 6 and 9 Essential fatty acids aid skin and hair growth – they’re said to help nutrient absorption at the hair follicle by helping blood circulation and cell growth. You can get your fill of essential fatty acids via oily fish and seeds. To top that up, I’m taking a brand of oils called vertese, which came recommended by my gorgeous friend, Shiv, who’s a bit of a nutrition expert.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just this list of supplements I’m taking. If you’re taking any supplements to help boost healthy hair growth, please do tell me about them and your experience generally in the comments below.

And if you’re thinking of taking supplements to help boost your hair growth post chemo, don’t forget to ask your oncologist before you start taking them – you never know how they might interact with your medication.

Good luck with getting your healthy mane back. Don’t forget to enjoy all the styling options as you get back to your desired length. Thanks, Becky xx

PS – I’m not discounting hair grown shampoos/soaps/treatments, these products may have an influence, but how much of an effect they have, I really don’t know. Is it marketing schpeil? Are they any good? Let me know!

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Closing the door on cancer

On Saturday Dan and I moved out of the flat we’d been renting since the week after my breast cancer diagnosis. We moved in during July 2015 and at the end of April 2016 we moved out. It’s quite a short time to live in a home but a lot happened in the nine short months we lived there – I had a lumpectomy and lymph node clearance, fertility treatment, six rounds of chemotherapy, three hospital stays and 20 rounds of radiotherapy. Our life revolved around my treatment and I wasn’t well enough for much else for the majority of the time.

Whilst my treatment is ongoing, my life is no longer dictated by chemo and radio and I’m able to rebuild my life; a life post breast cancer. I have a new job and Dan and I have become home owners. This exciting change has meant I can close the door on the home I lived in during the most challenging time of my life.

Moving out of my flat felt so symbolic. As Dan and I packed the car up with the last of our belongings, I had to go back to the flat one more time, alone, to say goodbye. Weirdly, I had to spend a moment in the bathroom. It’s a strange room to want to bid farewell to, I know, but it’s the room I associate most with my cancer; it’s where my hair washed away, it’s where I was sick, it’s where I sat in pain. It’s also where I had to dig deep within myself.

I’m grateful to those four walls, they kept me warm when I was cold. But now it’s time to move on and leave that behind, for good.

On Saturday, as the door to that bathroom clicked shut for the final time, I gave it an extra tug. I did the same with the front door. And the door to the carpark. Chapter finished – diwedd.