Plan ahead to prepare for hair loss.
Hair loss usually begins sometime between ten days and two weeks after the first chemo treatment. It may happen gradually or be dramatic, depending on the drug and dosage. Typically, a patient will start to notice hair -- either clumps or individual strands -- on her pillow, hairbrush, and in the drain after showering. Often the peak point of hair loss is about two months into treatment. It's normal to keep losing hair through the entire chemo process and for about a month after the last treatment. Then her hair will start to grow back.
It's commonly recommended that patients with long hair get a haircut before beginning chemo, so that when hair begins falling out it isn't so startling and disturbing. "If your mother has long hair, I'd suggest that she go to the hairdresser and get her hair cut shorter. If she's bought a wig, then she can have her wig styled at the same time," says Brooke Benack, also an oncology social worker at the Zangmeister Cancer Center. "Patients who get their hair cut feel much better because they're taking control. It also makes the hair loss less upsetting when it happens. Long hair coming out in clumps can be difficult to deal with, and seeing hair on a pillow or in the brush can be very emotional."