My Friend Has Breast Cancer and I Am Thinking About Shaving My Head.

Updated on May 12, 2013
A.P. asks from Fruitland, ID
24 answers

My friend was diagnosed a couple of months ago and is currently going through chemotherapy. She is feeling good and her spirits are high, but of course she is losing her hair. I don't know why I think shaving my head would be a good idea, but it feels like the right thing to do. I am not afraid of losing my hair. It will grow back! Has anyone done this before? Would you do it again? It is bad enough to have a friend with this disease, but believe it or not I am a mammography technologist, and I was the one to find her breast cancer. She is the first friend I have been involved with at diagnosis. I think that is why I feel strongly about the whole thing. I would appreciate feedback from those who have any experience with this kind of thing. Thank you so much.

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So What Happened?

Really the only reason this came to mind was because my husband and his brothers all shaved their heads when their sister lost her hair due to her cancer treatments. She loved what they did and it is a special memory for the family. (I know it is different when it is famliy, and probably a little easier for MEN to decide to shave their head!) :) Thank you all for your kind advice.

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answers from Denver on

Personally, I would seek other ways to support her. Shaving my head would draw far too much attention to me and I don't think i could deal with everyone asking me what happened or why. I'd rather have the attention go to my friend and use my time/energy doing something for her that can really help. Cooking dinners, cleaning or mowing her yard, watching the kids, shopping, or just taking her to a movie to forget about like for a while are all productive alternatives. Sometimes the smallest things can mean the most.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

I know that you think you are doing a good thing. I am a 10 year survivor of breast cancer, and I'm sorry if I offend, but I find it silly and insulting when people do this. You aren't sharing our experience by shaving your head. I know from the outside, it looks like that's the obvious huge thing that we go through, but this is not the biggest hurdle of our experience. Not nearly. This is a minor and temporary thing - much of what we go through in treatment is not minor and is not temporary. No one offers to do the big stuff - forfeit their breast or lose their fertility along with us. I don't view shaving your head as having any significance. It just makes other people think that you might have cancer and treat you with the appropriate sympathy/courtesy for someone who does - that will be why you'd see people looking at you and then looking away, because you caught them staring at the cancer patient.
I know that you think this is a supportive thing to do. Ask your friend if she thinks so. There is plenty that you can do to support her, and plenty to support the cause - shaving your head is not going to make her life easier, is not going to do anything toward research or finding improved treatment or help other women get detected early.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

Does she want you to shave your head with her? When my mom was losing her hair, I asked her if she wanted me to shave my head to so we could be bald together. She hated that idea. Your friend might, also. You don't want to do anything to inadvertently make her feel worse.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What a smart thing for you to ask before you did it!

I think it is sweet that it's in your heart but no. Find another way that expresses things more practically.

I had a friend who set up a caring bridge page for her daughter with cancer that helped everybody keep in touch and keep up with needs.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Ask your friend how she would feel about it. She might see it as a great show of support, but she might also think it's totally unnecessary and not really care. Or, she might think you are pitying her. If she likes the idea, I say go for it. It's a wonderful thing that you're offering to do and shows that you truly are a great friend.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

That is sweet that you want to be in solidarity with your friend. But, I always think that people who do this really also crave attention for themselves. I'm not saying you are like this, but many people will think this about you if you do it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Aww, what a wonderful friend you are to have this thought. My BF is a nurse and if I had cancer there is no way I would want her to shave her head even when I lost my hair. Tell her your idea though and see what she says.
Prayers to your friend for a full recovery.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Talk to your friend and ask if this is support she would like. It might make her uncomfortable... so you need to ask and really discuss it with her before you make any plans. I have a good friend who's almost done with her last reconstructive surgery after breast cancer. When she was diagnosed two years ago a few people offered to shave their heads and she was horrified. It just wasn't something she was comfortable with. She wore a wig every day until her hair came back in and was long enough to look normal.

It's a really lovely gesture, but make sure your friend wants it... she may think it brings too much attention to her. Or to you. Either way, best wishes to her for a full and quick recovery.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ask her first. My friend had Cancer and we all asked her if we could do this for her.. But she said, no, to please not do it..

She just wanted us to be ourselves and just be there for her. She said she appreciated the offer, but she wanted us to continue to be ourselves.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

No, I wouldn't shave my hair. I might get a haircut if it were long enough to give to Locks of Love and then a new hair style.

Helping the friend in other ways is more important. If you can get off in the afternoon to drive your friend to a treatment that would mean more than a shaved head. Do the housecleaning, childcare, meal prep, or get her a special soft warm blanket or just a visit to say "Hi." I had radiation treatments and that is difficult enough. I was allways asked if Ihad sores in my mouth or felt ill but never did. The chemo was not done. But I had a very long talk with my oncologist about my feelings.

Also, you work and as another person posted you cutting your hair in your profession might make people think ill or strange of you. Think about all the angles of why you want to do something that sounds great in the beginning but means a whole lot more.

Thank you for your concern.

I will get off my soapbox now.

the other S.
Breast Cancer survivor 16 years

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

That will not help her. Driving her to apps., cooking, caring for her kids, that will help. Shaving your head does not. Actually my friends have all gotten wigs, so while, you will be bald, she may have a nice wig. Also if you have children, it might frighten them.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

ASK HER!!!! But don't be surprised if she looks at you like you are crazy or if she is upset or confused. She may NOT want that type of support - I know a friend who was P*$$ED when another friend did that and all she felt was like this person was trying to get everyone's sympathy and look like at her like poor me.

Another friend asked for scarfs/hats - everything from the simple/plain to the wild/funky - that is what she wanted from her friends for support. We all went with her when she shaved her head and had an awesome lunch/party afterwards - Someone gave her a crown and a button that said - Chemo Queen and she wore it everywhere. We all did meals and offered rides to and from appointments, we cleaned her house, we laughed with her and we also bought her FUN/Silly Wigs.

Most Importantly DO NOT let this define her or your relationship with her. You need to take yourself out of the equation - this is her battle you are just there to do as she/her family wants.

Last year my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer and when people said they wanted to do things - some were wonderful things from the heart and some made us think that these people were doing it more for themselves. It may have been that we were overly sensitive but it is what it is.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

IDK its just odd gesture for me to try to grasp. How you shaving your head will help her? Unless she is the type who hates to be a loner and likes people to go through things with her. (I am def a loner and dont like alot of extra attention ) Def something that could really offend her. I know if my bff came over bald because I had cancer! I would think she were attention seeking off my illness!

Speak to your friend before doing anything like this. I think she might actually be one that truly apperciates it...because you think it might help her! So def worthy topic and she might feel comforted by the sign of support. I how ever would not.

I did cut my hair and donate it before but its not the same as being bald and healthy. . . it was just a shorter hair cut.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Please don't shave your head, Mom. You will shock the women coming in for a mammogram. I know it would make me very uncomfortable. If I were your office manager, I'd be pretty upset about it.

People who do this usually do it because a family member is going through this. She may be your dear friend, but she's not a member of the family. What about YOUR family? What do they say about the idea? Does your husband want to see you bald for months and months?

I have friends who have died from cancer. Many of them. They would never expect me or any of their friends to shave their heads. I hope and pray that I never get cancer, but I hope that if I do, no one wants to shave their head over a mistaken idea that they are supporting me.

That's my heartfelt advice.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Don't do it!!!!

Just me, but I don't think I would want a bald head staring back at me during my chemo....I already would have my own bald head to deal with. You shaving yours would make me feel bad. I would want others to enjoy their own long locks...not commiserate with me losing mine.

It is a sweet gesture of love and compassion. But instead...hold her hand when she is feeling sick or scared. Make her a yummy dinner and eat with her. Jump in to bed next to her when she is weak and sick and read a book to her. Play a game of cards with her when she is feeling low and bring some wild flowers from outdoors to bring some sunshine into her day.

You sound like a wonderful friend...she is lucky to have had YOU find her cancer and be with her along this future of unknowns.

Keep your hair...she needs pretty things to look at that don't remind her of her own agony.

Good luck and best you and your lovely friend.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I had thought about this too when a dear friend was diganosed w breast cancer 3 years ago. She went through so many surgeries and 6 months of chemo and radiation after that and still her reconstruction is not complete, but the one thing that bothered her the most was losing her hair. She would say, "God no, please don't shave your head for me! Keep your hair because you can!" I found other ways to show support. I wore a breast cancer bracelet the whole time she was in treatment. I sent them to all our friends so we could have some sort of connection as we all live in different cities. I made her the heart pillows out of some fun zebra print(so her) fabric so she could put them under her armpits after her masectomy to ease discomfort. I had her over to my house and we shaved her head here as she was pulling it out in clumps that weekend, and then we modeled wigs and gave them names so we could always ask, "who are you wearing today?" when we called her up. It was a beautiful spring day and we cried some but we laughed more. I would send her care packages and get her gift cards to restaurants so her hubby wouldn't have to cook while taking care of her.
There are many ways to show support, I don't think that shaving your head is one of them unless your friend gives you her blessing and then its up to you. I like the Locks of Love idea. Sign up for a breast cancer walk. Accompany her to chemo if she wishes. I did that and had her laughing the whole time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think it's a nice gesture of solidarity IF she would like, and IF she is upset at losing her hair. many women are just fine with it. and in too many cases (i'm sure not with you) the sympathetic-head-shave is more about grandstanding on the part of the 'supporter' than actually doing something nice for the cancer patient.
help with cleaning and cooking during chemo and other practical gestures are generally what's most wanted.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I Would Show My Support In Other Ways.Exhaustion During Treatmen PrEvents Patients From DoiNg So Much They Feel They Should Do. So Organize A Group Of FrienDs To Take Over ThoSe Things From A Week Of Meals That Can Just Be Heated(No Fresh/Raw), Garbage Day Take It Out, Errands , Load(s) Of Laundry Done, HOuse Cleaning, Have Her Go Online And Choose A List Of Library Books And Pick Them Up...And More. The Energy She Doesn't Have Will Be Appreciated By UsinG Yours And Not Concern Your Patients At Work Of Will I B Next.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Yes, I agree with the other posters who said to ask your friend. If she is a very close friend, it's her opinion that matters.

After all, this is about her not you.

(sorry, that sounded snarky - I didn't mean it to be) I just mean, make sure you are truly her best, best friend before doing this, otherwise it's just a gesture to get attention for yourself. If you check in on this friend every day and you are around her often, it might be a gesture of solidarity for her. So ask.

Good luck to her and thank you for being there for her. She's very lucky to have you. Also, check out to further help her with coping.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Sweet gesture, but I don't think it's a good idea. If I were your friend, I would not want you to shave your head. There are definitely other ways to support her and give back to cancer research!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I did it for a friend's mom with colon cancer. In fact, her daughter and I and another friend all did it together. It made her smile, which was the whole point. We couldn't make her cancer or her chemo side effects go away, but seeing the three of us looking like Curly Howard boosted her morale.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Some people do shave their heads as a gesture of support and solidarity.
It does grow back eventually.
Would she appreciate it or not?

I'm too attached to my hair to shave it all off.
It took me YEARS to grow it out to be as long as it can be.


answers from Houston on

No, not from a friend. If I had a daughter or sister to do it--yes.



answers from Anchorage on

You know your friend best. It is hard for us, not knowing her or how she is handling her illness, to know if she would love it or hate it. If you know she will love it, then do it. If you are unsure then talk to her about it.

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