How fast will my hair grow back after chemo?

If it helps you benchmark what to expect, understanding that everyone’s cancer is unique, our treatments were likely different, and that individual hair growth varies from person to person, here are pics and timeframes for my own hair regrowth, Year 1 (I’ll post Year 2 later).

1 month after my last ‘Red Devil’ infusion

At the time this picture was taken, I’d completed all four rounds of Red Devil, and two rounds of Taxol, which we ended up stopping due to severe side effects. So at this point, I was on a break period between any chemo infusions to give my body a chance to recover (thank God for steroid packs). Bald as a baby’s butt. At least my eyebrows were still holding steady.

6 weeks after Red Devil completion

Tiniest bit of peach fuzz started to grow in, albeit inconsistently.

10 weeks after Red Devil

Eyebrows skipped town, while head hair continued to grow a smidge. At least now I could see some of the familiar brown color from pre-treatment days.

4 months

Almost enough to comb with a soft brush! There were lots of inconsistent patches. By this point I was super tired of the head covers, so more often than not I just said to hell with it and went out in public even though my “hair” looked odd.

By St. Patrick’s Day it was long enough on the sides to touch the tops of my ears! Wahoo!

5 months

At this point, I had many thoughts about Chia Pets and Pigpen from the Charles Schulz Peanuts Gang. It was uneven, erratic hair growth to be sure, but I wasn’t about to complain! Just cracked a lot of jokes to get through that mucho awkward stage.

5 1/2 months

For whatever reason, it came in faster on the right half of my head than the left (further evidence that I am in fact truly a right-brained creative thinker?). P.S. God bless Goodr sunglasses. I felt cute and stylish and the frames covered the space where my non-existent eyebrows once sat.

6 months

I should also mention that it came in faster toward the back (I feared the mullet many times during this particular hair growth phase). There was enough to wash with shampoo at this point, and I didn’t have to be as liberal when slathering Cetaphil SPF 15 lotion all over my scalp.

That same week, eyelashes returned – enough to mascara! Cue all the confetti.

6 1/2 months

By the time I had my final final reconstruction surgery, the slower to grow patches had filled in, and my brows were flirting with the idea of coming back. Enough head hair to justify a second towel for drying – yassss!

7 months

Enough length to start showing some curvature – an attempt to return to my original part! Not yet pixie style, but no longer feeling like I have to prepare for faux sympathetic stares from strangers in the grocery aisle.

8 months

Prolly the first time I felt like this ‘do could be spunky, sassy, and sexy. Also helped that we were in our favorite place on earth at this time – lookin’ at you, Miramar Beach (and The Back Porch because #obvi).

And look – beach curl! Even if it’s just one, it still counts.

9 months

Enough hair to hold sweat during a workout! Enough stamina to DO a workout!

10 months

The things you don’t think are a big deal are the things you really miss! This was my first “crazy morning hair” day, enough to bring the small bristle round brush and the hairdryer out of hibernation.

Oh yeah, and enough hair to step into Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a pink mane!

11 months

Nice growth at the crown, giving me much needed volume and at least something to style. At this point, to keep the frizz factor under control, and to try and even out inconsistent hair growth, I started visiting my hairdresser every eight weeks for a shape up and trim.

Texture spray helped me amp it up a bit for the Rolling Stones concert.

1 year

By the time I got to take a sneak peek at my alma mater and the new house for my sisters in Pi Beta Phi, everything had filled in really nicely. Still not long enough for a curling iron, but definitely something I had learned to work with.

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