When Life Gives You Chemo Curls, Roll With It!

I had such an overwhelming response to my short hair post, that I feel it necessary to give an update on me and my follicles. After all, I’ve had a few haircuts in the past few weeks and this ‘do seems to evolve every single day!

When I finished chemo and the little stubble started growing back in, I didn’t know what to expect. I often heard the term “chemo curls” but didn’t know whether everyone got them and if they went away with time (and length). My normal hair texture was thick, course, relatively straight with a lot of body/volume. So when my hair started setting in and I saw small little flips at the ends, I immediately knew that was the start of my very own chemo curls. Admittedly, it was pretty exciting because it was new hair that I got to play with. I guess it helped that I was already pretty adventurous with past haircuts that I figured this was just a new hairstyle waiting to be born.


My first haircut after chemo was a bit….lackluster. The woman used a buzzer to trim the sides and didn’t shape the top right so I was left with kind of an awkward Fido Dido (remember him??) haircut.

Needless to say, I was set on finding a new hairdresser that knew how to work with not only short hair but curly hair as well. I did a quick Yelp search in my neighborhood and stumbled upon a small salon literally right next to my favorite cafe. It was owned by a woman named Cindy. I read her bio and saw that she herself had very short hair (and was a yoga teacher so bonus points!), so I figured she would be a good fit for me. She had a warm smile and something told me to go with her, so I booked an appointment and hoped for the best.

I walked into the salon and was greeted with a big smile and a radiant spirit. I immediately felt comfortable as she escorted me to her chair. She ran her hand through my hair and asked me what hairstyle I wanted when I noticed how similar her hair texture was to mine. I told her I wanted to tame the curls but also make it easy for me to style since I was not used to my current hair texture. She seemed a bit perplexed so I had to explain that I didn’t always have curly hair. For some reason, I felt like telling her the true reason behind all this, which was that I lost all my hair.

“You lost all your hair? Like, you were bald?”


“Was it because of chemo?”

“Yes! how did you know??”

“Because I went through it, too.”

I was floored. I knew there was a reason I felt so strongly connected to her. No wonder she also wears her hair so short and it also had that familiar curl I had. No wonder I immediately sensed a vibe with her. She is a survivor, too. And now she will be the person to help me with the next step of my journey! She knew exactly what to do with my hair, she knew exactly how to cut the curls and shape it so that it looked edgy yet feminine. A half hour later, she handed me a mirror, spun me around and showed me my new haircut. It was perfect.


It may seem counter-intuitive to want to keep the short hair and the curls that chemo gifted me.  Why embrace something that was reminiscent of cancer and treatment and scary, dark times? Well, simply because I am choosing to roll with it. Amongst the many lessons cancer taught me is that I cannot (and should not) control everything. Sometimes things happen a certain way and it is much easier to just do the best you can and go with the flow. Kind of like swimming against the current – it takes so much effort, so much energy to go against the flow of water that I’d rather make myself a raft and see where the waters take me. I may just find a beautiful surprise at the end like a waterfall, or in this case, a new friend and a kick-ass faux-hawk that’s perfect for this hot NY summer. ❤



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