A Guide to Buying Chemo Hats
I am a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer. During my treatment, I was bald for over a year. Now, I design, sew, and sell my line of chemo hats on eBay - both through my auctions and my eBay store. Everything about my hats - style, comfort, full coverage, versatility, and affordability is a result of my own experience with baldness. If you’re newly diagnosed, or are about to purchase a hat for a friend, the following information may be of help to you.
A chemo hat serves many purposes. First, it must provide complete coverage of the scalp, including areas we may not initially consider scalp, until our hair is gone, that is. Once bald, it becomes instantly clear that care must be taken to cover areas where sideburns once were, areas above the ear, and in the back of our heads, just above the neck. Unlike “regular” hats, chemo hats are designed to ensure complete coverage of these areas.
Chemo hats must fit securely enough to provide the wearer with a sense of security. We wants hats that stay on when we bend down, move our heads quickly, or find ourselves in the middle of a gusty wind. No hats flying off our heads, in ANY situation!
Chemo hats MUST be comfortable. They should be made from soft fabrics - flannel, soft knits, fleece, cotton, and terry. We should be able to put them on without a degree from a fashion institute. No scarves that must be folded or pleated or tucked or braided, please! These intricate head coverings may work well for a few women, but most of us want a hat we can put on and go about our business.
Chemo hats should be AFFORDABLE! Many of us have to take a leave of absence from work in order to receive treatment. We may be going from a two income family to a one income family. Worse, we might be the sole provider in the family. Retail prices of chemo hats are usually NOT within the budgets of most women.
Why do I see lightweight fabric hats being sold in the Winter and heavy fabrics being sold in the Summer? While that may not make sense to you in the beginning, you must remember that a chemo hat is a hair replacement. If you keep your house very warm in the winter, you may need a lightweight knit to wear indoors. But you’ll still need a fleece hat to wear outside. Conversely, while it may be 97 degrees outside in the Summer sun, your air conditioning might keep your home quite cool. And bald heads get cold, especially at night. So, despite the time of year, you’ll need hats that meet the needs of both outdoor and indoor temperatures.
What about sizing? All my chemo hats are made with an element of flexibility. In some cases, elastic is used in the back so the wearer can ensure her fit. In most cases, I‘ll add a type of stretch band to the hat. All my hats will fit head circumferences of 20 1/2” - 21 3/4”. If your head size is smaller or larger than that range, no problem. Just include your measurement with your order , and I’ll gladly make hats to fit you - no extra charge.
Facing Reality: Adjusting to complete hair loss is unbelievably easy for some women - but VERY difficult for most women. Aside from the romantic ideas about hair (our crowning glory, etc) hair does more than cover our heads. It adds a softness to our face - hair takes the eye away from our wrinkles, and sagging skin. A flattering hat will reduce the sharpness of our baldness - but no hat will ever be as good as your own hair!
Why not WIGS? For those who can wear them, wigs are great! For some of us, wigs are just too hot and itchy. But, even if you can successfully wear a wig, NO ONE keeps a wig on 24 hours a day! You’ll want soft, comfy fabric hats to change into at the end (or middle) of your day.
How MANY hats do I need? If you’re lucky enough to be able to buy as many hats as you wish, or are even luckier to receive lots of hats as gifts, you’ll agree that you can never have too many. Remember, you wear a hat every day - you’ll want dressy hats, warm hats, lightweight hats, casual hats - in otherwords, hats to fit your mood, the occasion, your clothing, and your budget.
Ask your friends to throw a chemo hat party for you. When you tell people you’re newly diagnosed, they’re going to ask what they can do to help. Ask someone to host a hat party for you - everyone attending brings a chemo hat. It will be a good time for you to deal with the reality of hair loss, and laughing about it is the best medicine.
I hope this guide will prove helpful to you. Most important, though, please accept my best wishes to you for a full and speedy recovery. All of us, all the women who have traveled this road before you - are cheering you on. When you finally cross the finish line, listen closely for the sound of our applause.