Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In the unfortunate event that you or a friend are diagnosed with breast cancer, and an oncologist prescribes Taxotere (manufactured by Aventis), please make sure that plenty of thought is given to all of the side-effects, but this one in particular:  Taxotere users have a 3-6% chance of never recovering their hair after treatment.  This ranges from never recovering all of their hair, to never recovering some of their hair. 

To put this in perspective, in America approximately 289,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer a year.  If all of them used Taxotere as part of their chemotherapy, the result would be between 8,670-17,340 women who would, for the rest of their lives, suffer from Persistant Chemo Induced Alopecia.  Significant hair loss. 

Compare this to other undesirable statistics: 400 people are struck by lightning a year (40 fatally struck), 60 people are attacked by sharks (worldwide), 1,500 people are injured in tornados (70 people die), and there were 117 aviation accidents last year with 828 fatalities.  These are all incidents and events that we people as a whole, not only fear, but take great measures to avoid when possible.  If comparing hair loss to natural disasters seems a little dramatic and out of context, just ask a woman if she'd rather be struck by lightning or see the top of her naked scalp every day for the rest of her life. 

"Better bald than buried" we all used to say in the chemo room at the hospital; and that is certainly true.  But if you've ever read Lance Armstrong's cancer story, you will remember that when he learned that his prescribed chemo would jeopardize his lung performance for the rest of his life, he didn't say "Better breathless than buried", he made the doctors do their homework and find an alternative chemo that would not affect his lungs. 

We're all just so scared and overwhelmed when we first get our diagnosis.   There are SO many choices to make and an overwhelming amount of new vocabulary and facts to digest, we just latch on to whatever the doctor says and start running the race of our lives before we even check to see if our laces are tied. 

I just wish someone would have spelled this out to me.  I would have dug deeper.  There was NO question in my mind that my hair was going to grow back.  I had the stages of regrowth all worked out in my head, with all the cutest short hairstyles already selected.  Start out with the Sinead O'Connor look, then move on to Halle Berry...add a little Meg Ryan pixie-cut get it.

And in case you're a dude, and you just don't get's your analogy for the day.  Boobs.  Imagine getting a nice rack when you turned 40.  Not just fat-gut man boobs, I mean the real deal, jiggy-wiggly girl stuff.  Now take a cold shower and stay with me (remember, they're on you).  Yah, you could tape 'em down, alter your wardrobe, whatever.  I know...I've got wigs and hats.  But the cold hard fact is...the new look sucks and you just want to be you again.  This was never part of the plan.

So wah-wah-poor-me-barf; I know, but the bottom line is (since we're spending time at the bottom):  If you're the type of person who would hide from a tornado or avoid swimming with sharks, be woefully wary of the Taxotere. Tell your friends. Don't let them be one of the numbers. The odds of hair complications on that medicine are higher than most of these other dreadful risks.  Read the small print. If it says "hair growth should resume 4-6 weeks after completing treatment", don't put a whole lot of money on "should". 

See for more information, and heal at your own risk.


  1. guh and grrrrrr. I must however point out that you have a gorgeous face. I feel very sorry for the homely people that also used that drug.

    1. you my friend, are instant sunshine. thank you