Chemo Curls

Here’s a photo blog of my hair before, during, and after chemo.  It is amazing how symbolic hair becomes during cancer treatment.  It symbolizes loss, transformation, and “new normal” as it grows back differently after chemo (in my case, darker and way curlier!)

Before donating my hair to Locks of Love, April 2007

After my Locks of Love haircut, 2 weeks before starting chemo


In January 2008, when I first moved to Portland (I was still wearing my wig or a hat)

In January 2008, when I first moved to Portland (I was still wearing my wig or a hat)

a few weeks later...

A few weeks later...

and a few weeks later...I still thought it was too short, but my friends convinced me to stop wearing my wig

And a few weeks later...I still thought it was too short, but my friends convinced me to stop wearing my wig

a few weeks after that, it started getting curly

A few weeks after that, it started getting curly

still growing...

Still growing...

me with my sister Hannah in feels good to feel like smiling again

Me with my sister Hannah in July felt good to feel like smiling again

...And a few months later...

stiiiillll growing!

Stiiiiilllll growing in January 2009!

In August of 2009, I figured out that if I combed my hair when it was wet, it became straight. Finally, finally straight!


Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico, November 2009


My 31st birthday, December 2009


January 2010, two years after the first picture was taken, my hair was (almost) as long as it was before I started chemo.

August 2010

§ 30 Responses to Chemo Curls

  • Allison says:

    I love your curly new hair!! That fourth picture is the hair I always wanted.

  • Joanne says:

    I’m an Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patient, in remission and my hair is the same as yours… except mine is really course and wirey. My eyebrows are curly too. It’s all very bizarre.

  • AKS says:

    thanks so much for posting this timeline of photos! they’re really helpful for those of us eagerly awaiting hair regrowth…mine looks like your photo #2 right now, so I’m glad to know I’m not too far away from being able to ditch my wig and scarves!

  • Kathy says:

    I finished my last treatment October 28,2009. I am getting peach fuzz on my head now. It is so funny to be excited about the fuzz. Yours looks BEAUTIFUL!! I can’t wait to get to that stage!!

  • Katie says:

    I take a weekly dose of methotrexate for my RA. Although I did not loose my hair it curled anyway. At first I thought I was nuts but later found out I was not. My hair started out straight with a wave at the bottom to the middle of my back. I now look like the football player that does shampoo commercials. Or a fluffy untrimmed poodle. Since I will be on this treatment as long as my liver holds I guess I will be a very curly grey haired lady for a while.

    • Karen says:


      ME TOO!

      I am on Methotrexate and thought I was going crazy because I noticed my hair was changing. I have waves in it. My hair was poker straight before. finally had to stop doing my old styling methods and hair styles and work with it. It is kind of pretty when I put a little moouse in it and air dry:-)

  • Sheila Gerry says:

    I am 8 months out from chemotherapy and my hair is like photo # 4. It is great to see it finally gets out of the curly state. My hair was light blond before chemo; not brown and curly. Can’t get it to do anything. I went from being Kojak to looking like Kramer from Seinfeld. Better than no hair. I really hope I will at least be able to get back to the hair style I had previously. I won’t be changing color chemically ( I am afraid of chemicals ) but may have bronze highlights put in as there is some bronze coloring in with the brown. getting the hair style I used to have will be putting one more piece of myself back together.

  • This is wonderful. Thank God for your healing.

  • Dalton says:

    Hi My mother is facing radical cancer surgery she was told she would have to have Kemo after that.Her only concern was her hair which the Dr assured her would not fall out,but in reading this now I wonder.Thanks for sharing and god bless all of you and heal you

  • Alison says:

    When my hair initially started to grow back, I always joked that “I always wanted curly hair – be careful what you wish for!!” I’m almost 13 years out from my chemo and my hair is still as curly as ever. My life is too short to spend enough time with a hair dryer on a daily basis to make it straight!

    It is a daily reminder of the fact that I was sick, but it’s the new and improved cancer-free me!

    • Marilyn Mitchell says:

      My hair was limply wavey with some curl at the edges before chemotherapy. It’s been a year this month since chemotherapy stopped. I love my new curly hair but have begun to worry it could be temporary. I’m given hope because yours has stayed curly for 13 years. Wish me luck?!

  • Brenda says:

    Your hair at every stage of re-growth is beautiful. Congratulations on your health. I have never answered to a blog before but yours is one I can definitely relate to. Thanks!

  • Holly church says:

    Thanks for the photos! My hair is curly too! I’m at the 4th photo and looking foward to the 6th!! Thanks again!!:)

  • Charlene says:

    Enjoyed seeing these… I’m at photo #6 right now – last chemo was 10/27/2010.. coming in slowly and curly. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ruthanne Darling says:

    Sarah, you are truly gorgeous in every picture. And each stage is a transformation, which has beauty written all over it. We went to school together and I had no idea you went through this. God is good and it is clear your work here for HIM is not finished. Thanks for sharing both “Thanksgiving” and your blog. I’m so your groupie……I’m a writer as well :) You are truly an inspiration to all!!!

  • miha says:

    My hair was so long, lovely and curly before chemo. I loved it soooooo much. It was very hard when it fell off. It always was easy to take care of. After chemo it started to came out straight and soft. After a year and a half it’s still straight and soft. I will never get used to it like this and praying all the time that it would be curly again. I keep cutting it so i still can’t put it in a pony tail .. But i thank god every day that i am healthy and of course ask him for my curly hair back :D

  • Anaya Watts says:

    Wow, u just look gorgeous with ur new hair! U look so optimistic and well.
    Hopefully if I need chemo, my hair will come back that beautifully!

  • I’m 20, currently going through treatment for lymphoma and leukemia.. FINALLY, during maintenance chemo my hair is growing back! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it, because it used to be straight and now is curly! So encouraging and neat to see your hair grow. Ours is very similar! Thank you for this post!


  • katie says:

    I’m seven months out of chemo and trying to figure out what is best to style it with. Your hair is absolutely adorable in your July 08 picture!! My hair is getting close to that length..wondering what product you used. Sometimes I use different mousses but I hate that it can make my hair look hard and gelly.

  • Debbie says:

    HI, my name is Debbie I had long straigt brown hair before Chemo, now after 8 months, I have very curly,Afican American hair. I love my hair no matter what. But feel like a whole different person. I had my hair cut for the first time since chemo and my hair rolled up like brillo pads as it ladded on the floor. It was weird. But I thank God every day for me still being here and find humor in my new look. Love all of you for going through what we hage.

  • hazel says:

    Hi , I live in Sheffield in England and want to say your photo’s gave me so much hope , I have just finished Chemo for breast cancer and my hair is growing back but be it curly …I hate it …but now reading this it makes me feel like it is a celebration of my health …..Good luck to you and I wish you well .xxxx

  • Juanita Rodriguez says:

    God Bless you! I have to ask what did you use topically or nutritionally for such quick hair growth?! I am 5 months post-chemo and it is growing, but only about an inch and a half, maybe because mine is growing in curlier?

  • jan says:

    you certainly look well and beautiful, I had my hair cut short and it was still a shock when it all fell out. 6 months on after chemo my hair is like a curly poodle and is growing fast. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who I am, you actually made me feel better about myself. jan.

  • YM says:

    I am from singapore and I completed chemo for Lymphoma in feb 2012.

    Now my hair is short and a tad curly. But I looked and yours I would reckoned mine is considered wavy. hahaha!

    You have a good positive attitude!

  • […] regrow a few weeks after the last treatment, sometimes with a tendency to curl, resulting in “chemo curls.” Permanent hair loss can result from some standard chemotherapy regimens. Scalp cooling […]

  • Yahobahne says:

    In spite of that disease, you’re beautiful and I love your curly hair. Thank you for sharing your pics. How are you doing today?

  • Sy says:

    Thank you for sharing. It’s been one year since chemo and my hair is still so strange: straight on top, wavy in back, still kinky on the sides. I was about to give up hope of it ever being manageable (oops … I almost said normal!) again. Thanks for giving some hope … I can learn patience … maybe.

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