Coming from a long line of straight haired people, my hair is now IN and it is kinky. I mean no disrespect to Afican hair, but I have what looks to me like Caucasian nappy! The oddest thing! I have never had a curly hair on my head and I found a white hair in the sink this morning that was all kinky. I was letting my hair grow out and it is not like the horse tail hair I had before. I am growing a nappy head of hair! It isn't as pretty as Camille Cosby's hair, however. 

As to nails, toes and fingers, they continue to curl and hurt like the devil. I ran out of my Rx Gabapentin, which is to treat neuropathy, and because it is out of sync with my other Rx's I decided to wait the few days until I picked up my other refills. The pain grew and the curve of my nails into half-moons grew. I talked to the pharmacist and she supplied me with enough to get me through to my refill day. The pain is virtually gone. 

The Parils of Pauline Progress! 

Do any of you other cancer survivors have similar experiences? Especially with your nails? Hair change is common after chemo and the stories can be very funny. 

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My hair story.....

I have always had very thick, coarse, straight, & stubborn dark red hair that was repeatedly permed as a kid until I rebelled, & said, ''no more'' at around 16-17. My hair was ruined as far as I was concerned & never really recovered.

After chemo, it came in so tightly curled that it was like a stiff, matted, Brillo pad of little cork screws, even thicker, & coarser than before, which was impossible to comb or brush. With no disrespect, I kept saying I had an afro......my grandfather was from the US, so who knows?

I kept getting bad headaches & tight scalp enough to make me have to keep cutting it back down to less than half an inch to get relief. This went on for THREE years before I could begin letting it grow further because it took that long to finally loosen up. Hairdressers weren't able to help, & it took a long time before I could get anyone to actually cut it into some sort of tolerable shape. I wore the wigs for all that time. Most of my red has gone & the gray took over which I now color because the shade of gray is not pleasing to me. 

I am not a fan of short hair but keeping it reasonably short is the only way I can tolerate it. It's thick, heavy, hot, & not easy to take care of, so fairly short is the way it has to be now. I also still have my wigs for an alternative if I have to go somewhere on a ''bad hair'' day.

Patricia, I think we should write a book about chemo and hair! Each story has some elements of adjustments and coping, some are hilarious. The lesson of the volume: Stay flexible, the new normal is what is.  

Yeah, should have saved all my cuttings for pot scrubbers!!!!!

Joan,

I'm glad the pain is gone.

I wonder if the curled nails are fungal infection?  Just wild guessing.  Wish I could say something more helpful. If it's fungal infection, there are treatments.  Not 100% effective 100% of the time, and not 100% safe for everyone, but the people I've known who went that route, did well.

I'm fortunate for my cancer treatment being more benign.  Just the damn fatigue and diarrhea.  I'm used to it now.

Of course, I don't really have any hair to curl.  I don't mind that a bit.  It's less maintenance and makes it faster getting ready in the morning, and I like baldness anyway.  But I understand that would not be the same for you.

Yes, the podiatrist I saw about my toenails said the chemo wiped out my natural protection and the fungus took off in both my hands and feet. He told me the options, including the oral meds, that I already knew was not an option because of the damage it caused my liver or kidney. I had frequent blood draws when I had taken it before and had to stop the Rx. The podiatrist advised that topical medication, even the prescriptions, don't works in the long run because the fungus is always present. His treatment of choice was nightly use of Vicks Vapo-rub, slathered on the toes and between and then to wear bed socks. I am relieved that the pain is gone

I wouldn't say your cancer treatment is more benign than mine; you have had a gigantic jolt to your system. The fact that you have been able to work amazes me, especially with the fatigue and diarrhea. 

As to my hair, I am surprised it is so odd! Patricia describes hers as being like pot scrubbers. I think she is on to something. That is what mine feels like to me. Cary gives me buzz cuts and I rather like the style. He described trying to cut it with the electric clippers to Laura and we were all laughing so hard and we agreed he could take the story to a local club and do a comedy routine. He said that between the cowlicks and hair wires, he had to make many swoops. 

By golly Joan, you can be so cheerful and jokey in your misfortune.

You are a treasure to look up to . . . and everyone else too.  Terry

I will second that.

Terry, I will let you in on my secret that I learned at Whitworth College from Ed Lindaman. That was in 1976-77 where I earned my master's degree. Ed had been on the Apollo Moon mission from the beginning when Kennedy declared a man would go to the moon and return safely. The project was successful in 1969. Ed was a project manager and trained the scientists from all over the world to work together as teams. The project could not have happened if the old authoritarian, military, religious model of leadership had been employed for the project. 

Ed taught us to look at the goal (man on the moon and safely return), and imagine the goal as your hand stretched out to the end of the arm. Then imagine the brain as being here and now. Think of challenges faced to accomplish the goal as points starting in the present and line them up along the length of the arm until the hand/goal occurs. 

Then, he said, imagine yourself sitting on the moon and exploring all the different options that one can choose to make the goal a reality. He said to take along a beach lounge chair, a cup or glass of beverage and just relax and imagine all possibilities. 

Fully relaxed and refreshed, start putting each challenge into a separate bucket and start problem solving. Conflicts arise; learn how to effectively and efficiently confront disagreements so that all are heard. Working together to resolve each issue, put the conflict points onto a list and, as a group, whittle away at the conflicts, using reason, not beliefs or faith, . Each decision has to be supported by evidence.*

Now, I use the photo of Earth as seen from Saturn taken on the Cassini mission. Getting far outside the problem, it helps to put perspective to any challenge. Here I am, looking at my problems, a cancer survivor, hair that looks like Caucasian nappy, finger and toe nails that curl, fungus run rampant and I am sitting in Cassini on a beach lounge chair with homemade lemonade, looking through the rings of Saturn. Somehow the challenges becomes funny and interesting. 

*As a side note, if the Challenger team had worked according to these principles, the explosion would not have occurred and Feynman would not have had the "O" ring evidence as the cause of the tragedy. There were those who warned that the mission should not take off when the temperatures were below freezing. 

The scientist in me admires the scientist in you. Thank you. 

Thanks Terry, I know the value of information being shared and that is my goal. I learned so much from those who joined "Cancer". It is the little things that the doctors may not know, while the people who live through chemo and radiation know and they are not alone. 

Get to a podiatrist for the curling (ingrown) nails. I have ingrown toenails and they not only hurt, if untreated (by a professional) they can lead to infection and disability. I had to skip my 3 month appointment with the podiatrist for just a week, and in that time one toenail grew in sooo deep. It wasn't only quite painful to have fixed, the toe never completely recovered. It's still more pink than it should be 4 months later.

Ruth, my goodness, what an ordeal. I know what you mean about the pain. Luckily, my primary care physician started the ball rolling and I was able to see a podiatrist with coverage from my health insurance. He trimmed the toe nails and I have a scheduled appointment for another toenail cut coming up. 

Sorry to learn that your toe never completely recovered and is still pink. What do you expect to have to do from here on out?

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