Mags Livingstone owns and runs a trendy spa in Stirlingshire, Scotland. Beauty has always been her main business, but after undergoing chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma (a cancer of the blood), she began offering some altogether different treatments.
Speaking of her personal experiences of hair loss due to cancer treatment, she told the Daily Record: “You get torn between wanting to hang on to your hair for as long as possible but on the other hand it’s falling out everywhere, it’s all over the pillow and shower. It’s frustrating and eventually I just said, ‘Take it off’.”
After having her hair cut short, the 45 year old opted to buy a real hair wig, because she felt that an acrylic one provided on the NHS would be unfashionable. She explains that although as a cancer sufferer she had many more serious worries, losing her hair was still a serious blow to her self-esteem.
‘The hardest thing’
“To women, losing their hair is the hardest thing,” she told the newspaper. “I still wanted to look like me. I didn’t want to hide away. Like many people I just wanted to be as normal as possible … As soon as I put my new hair on I felt like myself.”
Mags has now won her fight against cancer, and her hair has begun to grow back. But she wanted to do something to help other women who were in the same position. So, she began offering those undergoing chemotherapy a range of specialist beauty treatments tailored for their situation.
Treatments she now offers at her Lumia spa include wig consultations, false eyelashes and semi-permanent eyebrow tattoos, as well as special massages suitable for cancer sufferers. She also supplies both real hair wigs and free NHS acrylic wigs.
“At work, talking to people about cancer, everyone knows someone who’s been through it and they describe that awful trip to pick your wig,” she said. “I can truly say I know what it’s like, but I’m sure getting a wig doesn’t have to be a bad hair day.”
Chemotherapy hair loss
Many cancer sufferers like Mags suffer from hair loss, not because of the illness itself, but as a result of the chemotherapy treatments that they undergo. These treatments involve being injected with drugs which attack cancerous cells and stop them from replicating. Unfortunately they do not solely target these bad cells, but also attack healthy cells, such as those in the hair follicles. This often causes hair production to cease, and hair to fall out at a rapid pace.
The hair loss is usually temporary and will re-grow once the treatments are over. But for individuals who are already battling a potentially life-threatening disease, it can be a particularly distressing time, especially for women. Thanks to the services provided by people such as Mags Livingstone, however, the ordeal of cancer-related hair loss can be made that little bit more bearable.