It's not just vanity that makes losing your crowning glory so emotional; it's going public, maybe before you're ready to. "It [made me] look sick to have no hair, even when I felt fine and was going through treatment and didn't have a whole lot of side effects," says Jessica, 33, a psychotherapist in St. Paul, Minn., who had cancer twice and lost her hair twice.
As tough as hair loss can be, this may be one of few areas where it's possible to take back a little controlby shaving your head rather than waiting for clumps of hair to show up on your pillow and in the shower.
New Yorker Kerry Apicella, 62, did the pre-emptive buzz cut too: "I sobbed and sobbed. It was at the place where I ordered the wig, so they were probably used to it. It was a good release. My daughter was there with me and she was very understanding when I cried. We just kind of talked about different wigs and hairstyles and pretty soon it was over with and I moved on."
Many women opt to plan ahead and find a wig before they need one. That way you can match it to your own color, hair texture, and style, says Ramy Gafni, author of Ramy Gafni's Beauty Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great While Living With Cancer (M. Evans and Company, 2005) and a cancer survivor himself. "Get a wig that's longer than your hair so you can get it cut and styled in the style you want," he adds.