If you don’t look in the mirror have you lost any hair?

One of the well-known side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. Of course it is different for each person (and each drug) but in anticipation I had my hair cut short and trimmed my beard. I also ensured that I had suitable headgear in case the loss of hair created a cold spot on my head (a relative even offered to knit me a balaclava).

So what happened? As far as I am concerned, looking from the inside, there has been no change. If I run my hand over my chin it feels a bit different and if I look in the mirror I can see that my hair has thinned a little and my beard is reduced to a few whispery bits. If I look closely I realise my eyebrows are not what they were. I had also noticed that various parts of my body were smoother than before and that other bits were sticking together when they were warm. In fact I have realised that there are areas that had hair which I hadn’t taken much notice of until it was no longer there!

I would imagine that tribology is not a word that is in common usage in blogs about chemotherapy but I will now use it. It is a word that was coined by Dr Peter Jost 50 years ago to describe the science of friction, wear, and lubrication and which gave birth to a new engineering discipline. Aside from his professional achievements Dr Jost was a gentleman in every sense of the word.

So here goes – I am going to mention tribology. I hadn’t realised that surface hair had a tribology function. Then I read that the GB Olympic Cycling team had been given a bikini wax ban. So that also explained why bits were sticking together  – I hadn’t until that point even realised that they were now “follically challenged”.  Without hair to separate and lubricate them, soft fleshy bits were sticking to each other. Interestingly I haven’t lost all my hair, a rudimentary moustache has survived as has some hair on my arms and legs although it is possibly rather thinner. I haven’t needed a haircut since March (and don’t need one yet). There are now signs that it is beginning to return although in the case of the hair on my head it now appears to be white rather than ‘salt and pepper’ grey.

Yesterday we were at Towersey Festival and one of the acts involved a shaven headed comedian (at least I think that was what he was supposed to be) and I was tempted to ask him whether the chemotherapy was working, but I thought better of it. Another person we passed, bearded and long haired, was planning to have it all shaved off in memory of three Towersey organisers who had succumbed to cancer – possibly in conjunction with Macmillan’s “Brave the Shave” campaign.

Towersey festival is an annual folk festival originally started to raise money for the village hall which is where Village Voices community choir sings every Friday evening. However Towersey festival is no longer at Towersey but can be found next to the Chinnor Rugby Club. Ah, you say, they have moved just down the road to Chinnor. Don’t be silly Chinnor Rugby Club doesn’t play at Chinnor, it (and Towersey festival) are to be found on the outskirts of Thame! Mind you these geographical confusions are nothing new – in 1970 if you had headed across the Atlantic for the Hollywood Music Festival you would have been sadly disappointed – it was held in a field near Keele Services on the M6!

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