Been Having A Ball

September 26th, 20099:03 am @ Angela Odom



Beverly Johnson Lace Front Wig: Aurora

OMG, can I just say I’ve been having a good time experimenting with all sorts of things? Really, can I? Well let me tell you 50 is the new 40, at least that’s what I’m feeling. Thanks to a few older wise ones, friends of mine, I’m learning a lot about hair, nails, makeup, etc.

Ready For Basting

Thanks to a friend of mine who has been through chemo for breast cancer, I learned it was not just hot outside, it’s hot inside too and I mean inside of me. I’ve been going through some serious hot flashes and stupid me, I had no idea. I thought I was done with the hot flashes a few years ago when I first started with oral Cytoxan. I was warned the drug would take me through menopause and it did. Again, stupid me, I truly believed the menopausal hell was over after my first round of Cytoxan.  Not!  The hot flashes ceased then but they’re back.

Well now, it ain’t necessarily so. Since beginning this new treatment with IV Cytoxan the hot flashes have returned with a vengeance and I have budgeted for continuous A/C, I have no choice. Of course my friend thought me funny because again, stupid me, I thought it was the temperature outside. She told me “no honey, it’s the temperature inside.” So, it’s the chemo doing this to me huh? Good Lord! That little bit of information has helped me rethink my wardrobe. Instead of dressing for what I think is cool at the time only to find myself 15 minutes later burning up, I now dress light and I carry a sweater or jacket for those times when I feel cold. You know how it goes, put the sweater on, take the sweater off, rinse and repeat.

Knowing that yes, it’s hot outside it’s not why I feel ready for basting. I’m actually having symptoms of menopause, again.

Oh My Nails

The nails are driving me crazy. At first I was going to just let them go and not worry about them but — and this is most unfortunate — the dark nails have created quite a stir. Apparently, dark nails are common in African American women going through chemo. Since I am expressive with my hands, people often miss the point because they’re stuck looking at my nails. This means I will have to start polishing my nails again.

The big problem with me and nail polish is I’m too active. Within days of applying nail polish I will notice cracking or wearing of the polish. By week’s end, I have to redo my nails. According to my friend who also went through Chemo, she removed her acrylic nails and self applied plastic nails. She recommended a brand which I will not name here but, for her, this worked. She did not experience losing a single nail and she did not encounter any problems with her nails.

Now, why did I mention plastic nails. When on Chemo it is advised you should not wear any sort of nail covering because of the dangers of infection or fungus developing between the fake nail and your nail. I am aware of this and that’s why I’m looking at temporary solutions. I did not want to visit a nail salon because I don’t want to take the chance of making a bad situation worse with utensils that may or may not be sterilized. I need to do my own nails or carry my utensils to the nail salon. My friend also informed me to always wear gloves when washing dishes. I half do this now but from here on out, I will wear gloves.

Now these plastic nails will not give me months of long wear. Actually, they’re supposedly only good for up to two weeks and will have to be removed. I’m going for about a week to see if I can stand it and my friend recommended a non-acetone remover, which I purchased. If it works, I will switch between polish and plastic nails. If it doesn’t work — why I’m not naming the product — then I will go to Plan B which is using a lot of gunk on my nails — polish and other stuff — to keep the nails polished for a longer haul. I’m not fond of Plan B because it makes my nails feel heavier and I don’t like that heavy feeling but, if it works, so be it.

Michael Jackson and Dark Nails

michael-jackson-finger-nails-2006A friend of mine brought this to my attention. Apparently, she googled dark nails and Cytoxan and came across images of Michael Jackson with dark nails. She came across a photo of MJ with dark nails “like yours” she said and wondered if MJ had been on chemo too. I personally have not heard anything like this though it was rumored he was being treated for skin cancer. Maybe, maybe not.

Since MJ was supposedly diagnosed with Discoid Lupus by his dermatologist and if he was, in fact, diagnosed with Systemic Lupus, it’s quite possible he may have taken Cytoxan, either orally or IV, for his condition. There are other drugs out there as well that will cause the nails to change in color. I know I saw an photograph of MJ’s hands at the O2 announcement and thought “geez, his hands look as bad as mine.”

You can receive chemotherapy for all sorts of things, cancer is not the only condition. If MJ had lupus nephritis and was placed on chemo — no one will ever know really — then the discoloration of his nails is due to the chemo and if he was on chemo, for any reason, it could have affected his heart as well.

Again, I don’t know and all I’m doing right now is writing a Hollyweird script, call it pure speculation. I don’t know. Since I could not find the photo my friend saw showing MJ with dark or black nails, I can only speculate. What I did find were photos of MJ with dark brown nails and this could be due in large part to lighting or how the photo was processed. His nails — as seen in the accompanying photo — does not look like my nails. His are dark brown and again, I don’t know why.

Playing With Wigs

BJAuroraWhen you’re hot, you’re hot and wig caps ain’t nice when you’re hot. At the urging of another friend who swears by these things, I purchased my first lace front wig. I picked it up Thursday after my friend had it thinned out a bit. I was not born with a thick head of hair and that’s why I had it thinned, I wanted it to look more like my natural hair.

To be honest, I like it but I’m too darn conservative. I’ve never worn my hair this long (see photo above) since, as they say, skippy was a pup. When I was about 22 or 23, I kept my hair at shoulder length because I just can’t stand a lot of hair flying around my face. Again, my friends think me too funny because I’m so conservative. I don’t like a lot of hair, don’t like a lot of flying hair, wanted to have grey hair mixed in with my wig because — as I often say — I’m OLD, and I don’t like anything but straight blacks or browns. Well, wasn’t I surprised. Girlfriend colored my hair. Did I ask for that? NO!!! Did I get that? Yes!!!

Girlfriend told me I needed to relax which is something I’m not very good at. She said I acted “too old” and needed to “flip the script.” Well, I actually like the hair and the color but it will take me a while to adjust. She wanted me to keep it long and I decided to meet her half way on that one. I trimmed the hair shorter in the front and sides and tapered it (layering the hair) toward the back. I really like it now, she doesn’t but I do.

I have not affixed it to my head yet but I will. I wore it Thursday with a headband just to live with it a while and see if I could stand wearing it long. I could not, thus the haircut. I will admit the color, the length and the lightness of the wig did give me a spring in my step. I felt like my old self again and that was a good thing.

Later, I did cut it back a bit and it started talking, big time. A big thanks to Jerome who taught me years ago how to trim and layer hair. Oh what a wonderful lesson that was.

Shaving My Head

JeanPaceOh yes, I had to. It was getting too hot for me and those wig caps. OMG!!! Since my hair is coming out anyway, what’s the point of having a head full of sparse hair? I now understand why guys shave their heads. Not only is it easier to manage, it’s so cool.

Instead of wearing the wigs with heavy or thick caps, I am now only wearing those wigs with light, airy caps. I just can’t take those heavy or thick caps while the temps are near 100. Ain’t gonna happen. Can’t do it.

If for some reason I find I cannot do the wigs I will rock the Jean Pace look. For those who don’t know or are unfamiliar with Jean Pace, she is the wife of the late Oscar Brown, Jr. Ms. Pace began losing her hair when she was 4-years old and has worn wigs most of her life. There are times when she does come out — looking regal as ever — showing off her bald head. Because she has such beautiful features (high cheek bones) the bald head is simply stunning. My head ain’t quite so stunning, it fact it’s a little lumpy but I’ll manage if need be.

Living Well While On Chemo

I will note something I’ve found a little disappointing, there is very little out there on how women, particularly African American women, can feel beautiful while on chemo. Admittedly, my grey was premature and my hair has turned white primarily because of the medications I’m taking. Sure, I’m not that old and my mother told me she dyed her hair until she hit her mid-50s. But, I still find it a bit disconcerting that an older woman cannot readily find wigs with 5%, 10% or even 50% grey without spending loads of money for them.

I even considered doing a quick weave using 10% grey hair but for 10″ of hair I would have paid a load of money when there were kits available for substantially less. Unfortunately, those kits are 1, 1B, 3, 4 — all dark colors which are not flattering for older women. Jet Black will make you look really old.

Many of us earned those grey hairs and we’re pretty darn proud of them and we want to keep them, chemo or not. I’ve been through a lot to get to this age and gosh darn it, I wanna be my age. I’m not trying to be young, don’t want to be young again, and I’m not running from my age. I’m over 50 and I want to look like I’m over 50.

Second, I wish more information was provided to those of us going through or about to go through chemo. I had to do Internet searches and consult with friends who have gone through chemo to find out the dos and don’ts. I learned about ginger years ago when my friend was going through chemo and it has worked for me now though I will admit I’ve had no real problems with nausea.

Bottom line, I’m finding it is not only important to eat well when dealing with autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or cancer. It is equally important to feel well both mentally and physically. Just wearing the new wig the other day, particularly after cutting it, put a pep in my step. I felt good. Working on the nails also made me feel good. Finally, I found when I changed the way I looked — accepting this is what I have to do in order to feel good about what I’m going through — I feel good and as a result, my style of clothing has also changed.

If you are a woman going through chemo and you’re on a fixed income or low income, Pantene has a program called Beautiful Lengths. Through this program, women are encouraged to donate hair that is given freely to women going through chemotherapy. The wigs are donated to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) wig bank. The ACS also has some pretty nice, affordable wigs for sale in their TLC store. A word to the wise though, if you go with one of the wigs offered there, go with a Monofilament Wig if you can. These are lightweight, airy, and allow for parting. At the prices they’re offering on their site, these offer the best bang for the buck.

And that’s it for me today. I’m going to try to get to Wilshire Wigs to be insulted and abused — at least that’s what I’ve heard about the staff there, I’ll let you know when I get back.

Lace Front Wig Demo

Mine looks similar to this one. This wig is actually from the Janet Collection, not Beverly Johnson