Breast Cancer and Hair Loss

Most people experience hair loss from chemotherapy as the treatment for breast cancer. The chemo drugs target the cells so some healthy cells get damaged along with the cancerous cells.

The good news is that not all chemotherapy causes hair loss; how much hair loss you experience depends on the type of drug you are given and the dosage.

This can be devastating, especially for women, so how do you prepare for losing your hair?

You may choose to cut your hair short or start wearing headwear now in order for you to get used to the feel and look. If the cancer is caught early enough and you have long hair, you can cut it short and take it to an organization that makes wigs out of your own hair.

If this is not the case for you, you may want to start looking at wigs, or choose to go bald; after all bald is beautiful!!

Make sure you protect your scalp should you decide to go au naturel.

Your head will be particularly sensitive so be sure to use plenty of sunscreen underneath your hat; remember, your head hasn’t had the full effect of the sun, your hair was always there to protect it.

If your scalp becomes dry, flaky, or itchy, using a moisturizer or an oil such as almond or olive may help.

As I stated above, losing your hair can be devastating and some people tend to feel guilty because they get so upset over it. They feel there are many worse things to be upset over other than hair loss, but it can make you feel vulnerable and exposed.

There is no right or wrong way to feel about losing your hair or about getting breast cancer; you feel the way you feel and you have a right to be upset if you choose to be.

Hair loss is a noticeable side effect and can change how you see yourself. Men who experience breast cancer have a very difficult time with losing the hair from their chest. Losing your hair may be a constant reminder of your cancer, or perhaps you are a very private person and now everyone can see you have cancer; this can be extremely difficult to deal with.

Some people have no problem with hair loss, others find it terribly difficult to accept and adapt.

There are some cultures and religions where hair has a special significance and losing it may affect your religious identity as well as your self-esteem. If the latter is the case, you may need to speak to a counselor for additional support.

How are others going to react to your diagnosis?

Who cares?!?!

This is your journey and your journey alone; no one has to know unless you want them to know. Some people only tell their close friends and family, while many others want everyone to know.

Everyone will respond to your hair loss in different ways and some may be hard to understand. Not everyone will know what to say or do; if they say or do anything it may be the wrong thing because they won’t know what to say. Be patient, they try.

Whatever you do, don’t quit being social.

This is so important, you may not feel like socializing, but you must otherwise you may become isolated and depressed.

Hanging out with friends can also serve as a wonderful distraction and help keep some level of normalcy in your life. Other people’s reactions may bother you at first, but your reaction to them should improve over time. Talk to others who have experienced this to see how they handled it.

If you have children, please talk to them about your breast cancer AND your hair loss.

Children don’t want to see their mother lose her hair if they don’t know what’s happening; help them prepare for what they will witness. Life is so stressful on kids now-a-days, please don’t add to their frustration.

If you find dealing with breast cancer and hair loss overwhelming, please seek support.

There are many organizations who will gladly help you. You may just have to check with your doctor’s office for local support.

Facebook has support groups, you can go to cancer.org to find support, breastcancernow.org has many resources also.

PLEASE find the help you need!!

Fall Activities for Seniors

Fall activities for Seniors - Reading

Fall is the perfect time of year for seniors to get active again; it’s not too hot and not too cold.

If you think that you can’t enjoy activities because you are going into assisted living or already live in one, think again!!

Our Palm Coast assisted living communities offer all kinds of activities to keep you engaged and fit.

Fall activities for Seniors - Reading

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Whether you enjoy card games, crafts, puzzles, or going on outings, these communities have something for everyone. Some examples are provided below with how they can help:

    • Yoga and Tai Chi – helps improve balance, strength, range of motion and can reduce pain and your risk of falling
    • Walking clubs – can offer a sense of well-being and an increase in health through the social connections made
    • Name that tune – it’s always fun to guess the song and sing-along to the music, plus it’s a great game to keep the mind sharp
    • Table games – help improve memory and sharpen cognitive skills
    • Corn hole – this helps with mobility and leg and arm strength
    • Cooking workshops – these are a great way to improve memory function. Remembering recipes and ingredients helps to sharpen and stimulate the brain
    • Dance classes – dancing helps improve your cardio, balance and mood and it’s fun too!
    • Painting classes – painting improves cognitive function because you have to use both sides of your brain at the same time
    • Bingo – bingo takes concentration which can help your short term memory and it promotes socialization
    • Wine socials – wine socials have improved a person’s morale, zest for life and sleep
    • Bible study – bible study classes bring you closer to your Faith and can provide you with peace of mind you may need
    • Movie night – back to socialization again which is so important and improves focus and can further delay memory loss
    • Excursions to local attractions – engaging and uplifting – the fresh air and sunshine does wonders for your health and your attitude
    • Sunday brunch – once again socialization here also and most important FOOD!! Yummy
    • Happy hour gatherings – camaraderie and engaging conversations
    • And let’s not forget the amazing holiday parties!! – a time to dress up, if you have the attire. Meeting new people is always exciting as family members are usually invited to holiday parties

The physical activities they offer are designed to keep you healthy and strong, plus they help you burn off the calories from the Sunday brunches!!

The games and puzzles are designed to keep your brain healthy and strong so you can stay engaged with other residents during the wine socials and happy hours.

And who doesn’t love wine socials and happy hours? How about a movie night? The camaraderie alone is fantastic! If you live alone, how much fun is that? Do you have anyone to talk to? Anyone to enjoy a movie with? Is there someone to enjoy the great meal you just prepared with, how about preparing the meal with someone?

Assisted living communities are the places to remain engaged and with Fall here it’s the best time of the year to be active.

These communities have wonderful activity directors who work hard to keep you young and young at heart.

There is always something happening in Palm Coast so there is never a lack of something to do; whether you live on your own, with someone else, or in an assisted living community there are plenty of activities to keep you robust and thriving.

The above is one of the reasons we at Assisted Living Made Simple want to know your social needs, we do NOT want to place you somewhere that has no activities when you are a social butterfly.

We want to ensure you have others to engage with if that’s the type of person you are.

We take the time to get to know YOU so you only move once!!

Different Types of Breast Cancer

Types of Breast Cancer

Did you know there are MANY different types of breast cancers?

I sure didn’t and couldn’t believe how many there are so I thought I’d share some with you!

Types of Breast Cancer

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

this is a non-invasive breast cancer and starts inside the milk ducts. It’s not life threatening, but can lead to an invasive type of breast cancer later on. There are generally no signs or symptoms, but some may experience a discharge from the nipples or a lump in the breast.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

this is the most common type of breast cancer and invasive means cancer has spread to the breast tissues. If not treated, this cancer can spread to lymph nodes and possibly other areas of the body. This too may not show any signs or symptoms and usually first shows up in a mammogram which is why regular screening is so important.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) 

this is the second most common type of breast cancer and begins in the milk-carrying ducts and spreads beyond. Sometimes, the first sign of ILC is a hardening in the breast that can be felt, or the nipple may turn inward.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

this is a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer. It starts with reddening and swelling of the breast and can grow and spread quickly, worsening in a few hours to a few days. The breasts swell and become inflamed because the cancer cells clog the vessels that carry lymph.

Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)

this is not a true breast cancer and is usually diagnosed before menopause age. There are no signs or symptoms and is found only when the breast is biopsied for some other reason.

Male Breast Cancer 

this is very rare, but can happen because men have breast tissue which are usually just mounds of fat. Men can develop breast cancer from certain types of medications they take. The symptoms are the same as they are for women.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer

this type of breast cancer is not caused by hormones, but by a specific gene which means it is hereditary. This cancer does not respond well to medications and is very aggressive, but there are therapies available to treat it.

Paget’s Disease of the Nipple

this is a rare form where the cancer cells collect around the nipple. Paget’s disease causes the nipple to become red, sore, flaky and scaly. There can also be itching, burning, pain and swelling.

Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast

these are extremely rare and tend to develop in women in their 40’s. The most common symptom is a lump your doctor can feel when examining the breast. They tend to grow rapidly, are generally not painful and can create a visible bulge as it pouches against the skin.

Recurrent Breast Cancer

this is a cancer that comes back in the same or opposite breast after a period of time. Sometimes a single cancer cell can survive radiation and chemo and is able to grow into a new tumor.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

this is the type of cancer that has spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymph nodes. Most women feel helpless when diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, but there are treatments that can control it for a number of years. Make sure you gather all the information needed to help you make a sound and well-informed decision about your particular situation.

As you can see, there are many types of breast cancer and I didn’t even cover all of them. Please visit breastcancer.org for more information on these and the other types of breast cancers.

And PLEASE get regular mammograms!! Early detection is the KEY!!!

October is breast cancer awareness month and there are many events happening in the area. The largest being the breast cancer walk on October 30 in Daytona Beach.

Palm Coast has a Pink on Parade 5k coming up on October 10, Pink Party in Ormond Beach on October 9 and many more.

Be sure to check them out!!