I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late April, 2017 after I found a small lump in my right breast.
It’s a grade-3 cancer (very aggressive) but luckily there are no signs that it’s spread to my lymph nodes yet, which makes it ‘early stage’ cancer.
At first the doctors thought a lumpectomy would be sufficient to remove the cancer, but it turns out that I’ll need a full mastectomy. This will be done after I finish my chemotherapy treatment, which is 16 rounds over six months.
I’m currently just over half way through chemo, so I’ll be finished just in time to enjoy summer.
When I learnt that I’d be losing my hair through chemotherapy, a friend suggested that I try out shorter and shorter cuts. This led to my idea of getting 10 haircuts in 10 days, as a countdown to complete baldness.
I’d never heard of the Pink Scissor program when I approached Lea-Ann Suthern at Toni&Guy Newtown with the 10 haircuts idea; initially, I only chose Toni&Guy because I’ve always loved their crazy '80s make-up looks and punkish haircuts.
I was looking forward to the shave because I was so curious about what I’d look like with no hair. My 11-year old daughter came to the salon with me.
It became a festive occasion marking the endpoint of my hair loss adventure. I did feel a stab of sadness when I saw myself in the mirror, though; Lea-Ann and I ended up having a big teary hug.
The initial months after a cancer diagnosis are pretty tough. Your life’s turned upside down overnight and your future is suddenly looking pretty uncertain.
To make things worse, your days are filled with things you’d really rather not be doing — diagnostic procedures, endless medical appointments, hospital stays and surgery.
But in my case, I had my Pink Scissor sessions to look forward to. In between visits to the Royal Prince Albert Hospita, I’d walk up to Newtown to see Lea-Ann at Toni&Guy.
I’d sit in the salon chair, she’d bring me a cup of tea and we’d talk hair. How much had I lost? How much shorter should we go? Which celebrity hairdo did I want to mimic this time?
Not only was this a welcome distraction from all the serious, scary things going on in my life, but it also meant a lot to me on an emotional level.
Lea-Ann, a complete stranger, was choosing to give me hours and hours of her precious time and expertise to support me through a tough time. I can’t overstate what a difference this made to me during those first few months post-diagnosis.
More than anything, I think it’s important because it brings people with cancer into close contact with every day, healthy people out in the real world.
It can be easy to feel disconnected from normal life when you have a serious illness like cancer. Suddenly most of your time is spent in medical facilities, and a lot of your day-to-day interaction is with doctors and fellow patients.
As part of the Pink Scissor program, visiting your Pink Scissor specialist provides you with a much-needed link to everyday normal life and people.
Toni&Guy’s Pink Scissor Program not only aims to provide people with complimentary haircuts and shaves following a cancer diagnosis but it also offers free wig touch-ups from an approved wig supplier. The program has launched in selected stores across the country – find your closest salon by visiting www.toniandguy.com.au.