Once I started chemotherapy for triple-negative breast cancer, I became obsessed with having my hair buzzed at a barbershop before chemo could take it from me.

Not that losing hair is new to me. My hair has been falling out for fifteen years (Thanks, Grandpa!), and I got a buzz cut last year just to see how I liked it. I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite ’do—I didn’t like the look of the top, which was longer than the rest—but I could live with it. Especially in places like Seattle or Portland, where I saw a lot of women walking around with extremely short hair.

Todd was nonplussed by my insistence on a barbershop. He didn’t understand my desire for a haircut involving hot towels and a straight razor. For a while, I considered going to Proper Barbershop in Denver, but then I decided that a cold PBR and vintage Playboys weren’t that important to me. Neither was gender integration of that particular haven for men. I left it to the boys this time.

Instead I chose Al’s Barbershop, which has a location on the Hill in Boulder convenient to my appointment with the oncologist late that afternoon. The first thing I noticed upon my entrance was that all the pictures of fabulous hair featured men. Judith, my certified barber (Al won’t let you use a straight razor on customers until you’re certified), decided she would use scissors and a comb to shorten my hair, instead of a trimmer. So she divided it into sections and got to work. Al's Barbershop Boulder, women and barbers

She was amazingly quick. In no time at all, I was under half an inch all over my head. It was relaxing to have the comb scraped (gently) up and down my scalp. Then came the real treat: hot foam and a neck shave. 

Judith didn’t have any reason to use hot towels on me, but she did promise I could come back when my hair got patchy and have my head properly shaved. Then, she said, she would use hot towels and polish my scalp until it shone.

I’m still not sure if I want that.

Leave A Comment

  1. Deborah J. Byrne February 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Beth, it seems like you’re dealing this well. I appreciate reading your blog, although it’s difficult to learn about all that you are going through. My continued best wishes for you on this journey.

  2. Deborah J. Byrne February 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Also, wanted to tell you that I have a friend who has gone through much of what you’re talking about and he has finally recovered from lymphoma. Also, a friend of mine recovered from breast cancer through the use of hyperthermia. For her, this treatment was better than going through radiation and chemo.

  3. Beth Partin February 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Deborah. What is hyperthermia?

  4. Deborah J. Byrne February 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Thanks for asking, Beth, that’s a good question. Hyperthermia is actually a very natural way of overheating the affected parts of one’s body to overcome cancer. It’s very similar to the way that our body uses a fever to overwhelm bacterial and/or viral infections. My friend actually went to Germany for treatments several times, but hyperthermia is also used in the US, including private clinics and also hospitals. I believe that they do this at University of Colorado Anschutz Center, but only for certain types of cancer.
    For example, I had a very slow growing basal cell carcinoma on my left ankle for which hyperthermia does not really work well, so I had surgery for cancer last October. My friend with breast cancer had a more virulent form of cancer and she also had enough money to travel to Germany once or twice a year, to a specialty clinic there.
    Hopefully, that information can be helpful to someone.

  5. Jeff May 21, 2012 at 10:59 am - Reply

    you are very sexy!!