Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

I’m a person who buys hair now. Never thought that would happen! Two days after my first treatment I met with Maurice Neuhaus, a wig maker in Los Angeles to work his magic and craft an exact replica of my hair (wigsfromscratch.com). For all you non hair-buyers out there, here’s something you may not know: This shit is expensive! Fortunately, I’m nailing it in the insurance department right now and my plan covers one wig per lifetime. So no room for error!

Turns out, hair shopping is fun! And time consuming. We went to Extensions Plus in Reseda, an unassuming store with a few wigs displayed out front but a stock room that packs a punch. Immediately, the lovely sales woman brings out buckets of every kind of gorgeous strand that you can imagine. Long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy–sorry, I just started singing lyrics for a second there. Let’s just say there’s a lot of hair. After massive amounts of discussion about length, color, density, and texture, we finally settled on a base of deep browns and some vibrant violets to mimic what I had before. $800 later (for HAIR! We all have goldmines sitting on our heads and we don’t even know it!) I left Maurice to get started on his creation. The plan is to have it shipped to me while I’m in New York and have my hairdresser cut it exactly like she normally would while it’s on my head to have the best chance of recreating of my former style. I drive home that night on a high, thrilled with the idea of this silky crown coming together so perfectly.

This high is short lived because a few days later, the chemo starts to hit me. Hard. The nausea is no joke, my friends. The concept of a good night’s sleep has been banished from all memory. And the shot I get to stimulate my white blood cells is causing “bone pain.” Imagine the insides of your bones hurting, like growing pains but everywhere. My joints feel out of place, as if my body came in a kit and has been assembled incorrectly. But the knowledge that all this is temporary pulls me through. I envision my super fun trip to New York coming up where I’m getting a feisty new haircut. I remember that somewhere in L.A., a wig is being made, by hand, from hair I picked out. Something beautiful is coming to me soon. So I keep going.

Miraculously, a week later I feel almost perfectly normal. I survived the plane ride to NYC with no pain or sickness, even managing to lug a suitcase up two flights of stairs, which three days earlier actually felt like a task I would never achieve again. I land in the city and two hours later I’m performing at UCB and going out with friends afterward! It’s an eery and slightly empowering feeling to know you are sick but to feel so normal, like you’re cheating the system. I feel almost guilty about it. During this time I still haven’t shared with everyone that I have cancer. The secret inside is so large but the desire for normalcy is monumentally larger.  I have found that sometimes it just feels good to pretend. One of the first things you realize is that no one wants to tell you their problems or talk about fun frivolities when there’s a cancer elephant in the room. What they don’t know is that I’m the LAST thing I want to talk about! I don’t want something as greedy as this tumor to steal my ability to be a friend, a confidant, a woman. I’m not ready to be known this way. And once my hair falls out it will be harder to maintain these covert but carefree conversations. So I soak it all in, acknowledging how good laughter feels and visualizing the silky wig being made for me out of beautiful hair.

Now that I had some hair on the way, it was time to start getting rid of some. In all honesty, I didn’t feel like getting too creative with my new cut. It was going to be around for literally a week tops before it would start to fall out. Plus I have some super fun wigs coming in the mail so I didn’t want to exert too much energy picking out the perfect cut. Something short and sweet that would ease the transition. Enter Ms. Jennifer Lawrence! The patron Saint of pixie cuts. I screen captured a couple of her best red carpet hairstyles and would find myself just staring at them at all hours of the day, showing them to anyone who would look and mustering up the courage to start the change.

FullSizeRender                                                                       The inspiration

The truth is, I have always loved my current haircut. My stylist, Mala, had created this haircut for me about 8 years ago when, after playing homely Bebe in A Chorus Line. I needed a fresh and edgy look for In The Heights. We picked the color: plum. We imagined a cut: asymmetrical enough to be cheeky but sleek enough to be classy. And we stuck with it….for years. I never let anyone but Mala touch it. I would joke that I’m going to be like Halle Berry and have the same haircut until I’m 50. It just made sense for me. My whole life, I never felt comfortable with long hair. The day I cut it short my freshmen year of college was the day my outsides finally matched my insides. I grew up being a nondescript brunette in a sea of sunkissed beauties in Southern California and suddenly I had become a bobbed badass with her sites on an NYC takeover. This was it. I was never going back

Now here I am, staring at pictures of Jennifer on my phone and making myself be ready to do something different for the first time in almost a decade. Nothing like a future of forced baldness to make you take a risk! But just because it was necessary and inevitable didn’t keep me from being a nervous wreck beforehand. I even put it off a few days. There was just something about it that made me feel like there was no going back. I’m guessing it was the fact that there was no going back. Makes sense.

IMG_0001
Here we go!

I brought my lovely best friend Natasha with me for moral support. A girl always needs a she-spiration when starting a new style change and she had chopped her hair off a few years ago to much success.  Mala started snipping. Very slow at first; she knew I was nervous. But the more conservative she stayed, the more I gained courage. I even started asking for it shorter. You’re all going to laugh because it honestly doesn’t look that much different but the empowerment it offered me was exhilarating. I was getting a free pass to be a new kind of woman. A woman who fears no change, who relishes in the opportunity to reinvent herself. I realize now that I want to be that woman even when this is all over. Turns out that it doesn’t matter if it comes in a bucket, falls from my head or doesn’t exist at all: “There ain’t no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my…

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair”

Move over Halle and Jen; K-Rod is in town.

IMG_0014                                                           Ok, that wasn’t so bad

IMG_0017                                                        I mean, I couldn’t look more calm, am I right?

IMG_3361                                                                And I make it out alive!

 

IMG_7842                                                          With a little help from my friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

47 thoughts on “Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

  1. Hi Krysta, First of all, I am so sorry for your diagnosis and needed treatment. You are so brave to put it out there publicly and write about your experiences . You are not alone , and please know there is a wonderful sisterhood of support out there. I was in your shoes 5 years ago and so relate to everything you’ve written about. Chemo sucks. There’s just no way around it. The only good thing is it’s time limited! Please know that you will get to the other side. I promise! I joined a support group at Sloan Kettering in NYC, and it was enormously helpful. So therapeutic to share my experiences and listen to others going through similar things. I’m doing fine now, thank goodness, and you will be too. Thank you for writing Chemocouture! Stay strong and God Bless!

  2. J. Law may be your inspiration but you are mine! Looking great Krysta, and I hope you are feeling great too. Sending more positive vibes & excited for your next posts!

    ♡ Carissa

  3. Hooray for taking the hair leap, forced or not! I think the new look is great. It’s also a real struggle to imagine you as anything in the realm of nondescript…you’re absolutely gorgeous Krysta! All your fans say so, and I say so. But what’s really awesome is how the world is getting to see how gorgeous you are on the inside too. Now excuse me while I go search youtube to see if there is still that clip of Raul Esparza singing the song from Hair. 🙂

  4. Hi Krysta,

    I feel exactly the same way about change. When I find something I like that I know works for me – whether it’s a hairstyle, a pair of jeans, or even a favorite restaurant – I prefer to stick with it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?! Thank you for acknowledging the difficulty that comes with even just getting a new, shorter haircut, never mind the idea of losing your hair altogether! Handling it in small steps as much as you can seems like a smart strategy. I so admire the courage with which you’re embracing the frightening prospect of such unpleasant changes – you are inspiring me to try to be more open to change in my own life.

    Your new haircut is fantastic – you look as fierce and fabulous as ever! I’ll look forward to seeing pictures of your new wig when the time comes, although from your description it sounds like we won’t even be able to tell. But no matter what, you will still be the same amazing, gorgeous lady – cancer picked the wrong woman to mess with, because you are going to kick its ass and come back stronger and better than ever! Continuing to send thoughts, prayers, and positive energy your way.

    All the Best,

    Nicole

  5. Lookin’ good, kid!

    I hope the new hair lasts a while. Dad’s cost $5000/year. That included monthly stylings, shampooing and two replacements. What I did not know was that the wigs tend of shed, so keep that in mind… Yes, he looked good…and yes, they made an untidy profit. But he was happy…

  6. Love your cut!! I did something a little shorter when I cut mine right after I started chemo but I had the same feeling! Isn’t it a great feeling!

  7. You look so fierce Krysta! Love you and the hair!! Don’t know if you remember me, but I really appreciate you coming to the auditon last Saturday when you were feeling so awful! you are such an inspiration and a great hugger 🙂 Still in my thoughts and prayers

  8. Your new cut is super cute! Love this post and love you! Not to be creepy, but I totally cut my hair like yours two years ago! I didn’t go quite as short as yours was, but you were my definite inspiration for a heart cut a few years so! ❤️

  9. You are seriously the brightest spirit, krysta! This whole thing you’re doing is so empowering and beautiful. And I’m so proud of you for doing it. This looks amazing. You truly are a role model. Love you! <3

  10. Hey Krysta,
    Good luck with your treatments… You are definitely a brave individual and I am very impressed with the way you’re attacking the situation! What you’ve done here with this website is fantastic. I have a nephew (who’s now 11) that was diagnosed with cancer when he was 2 years old. Hes doing great! It is beatable!
    I’ve been a fan ever since you were cast in SMASH. I was then lucky enough to have seen you twice on Brodway in First Date, and to have met you, Zachary Levi, and the rest of the cast after each performance. You were very sweet and approachable to everyone which made me even more of a fan. Best Wishes!
    (And your new haircut does look great!)

  11. Hair cut looks great on you – for real. I was going to comment again on previous blog and suggest you google Frankie Sandford, a British girl, shes in a girl group she currently has a really cute pixie cut (late 2014 to 2015 pics) her earlier cut is also short and really nice, looks similar to what you have just had done… its a v versatile style actually… you can side sweep bangs over and do side part further over for more asymetrical look or do more sophisticated classic look as you have… I have been thinking about getting your current cut for ages coz I always wear my hair up to make it look like your short hair cut so I think why do I bother with long hair. Know exactly what you mean about blending and not feeling right with long brunette hair. Bone aches sound sore I’m sorry. You look so scared and sweet waiting for your hair cut to be finished, like childlike, then the finished pic you look like a pretty lady 🙂 Wig sounds awesome, half of my girlfriends wear weaves or extensions daily..so theres some great quality wig makes and extension producers out there know because its become so mainstream.

  12. We only met you once – at the stage door for First Date. But we have followed you on twitter, you tube, and in the news ever since. Your First Date Kiss and Tell videos were so upbeat and funny, my family just adored you. So many celebrities use twitter mostly to promote themselves and their projects, but we have noticed that you use twitter to promote your friends and others as much, or more, than yourself. That’s admirable. In watching clips and videos of your performances, it is apparent that you not only are blessed with talent, but you have put hard work and fierceness into developing that talent to the best of your ability. And now at such a challenging time in your life, you have demonstrated that all those qualities that made us fans in the first place are the REAL thing. You are a genuine superstar. We, along with so many others, will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy and complete recovery. Shine on, Krysta! Shine on!

  13. Looking good girl! You gotta give me the name/location of that salon for when I get my haircut. I can’t wait to see the wigs; I bet they will be fabulous! Stay strong sweetie. You inspire me everyday :)!!!

    XoXo
    -Nicole

  14. Krysta, your attitude to all this astounds me. That you would share something so private and I intimate is truly awe inspiring. When you are feeling less than brilliant, physically or emotionally, please remember just how many of us there are here supporting you and I hope it helps you, like your blog will no doubt help many other women going through cancer treatment too. I would say keep positive but I know you will! With all my love and best wishes
    Cat xxx

  15. First let me say how much I love you and have loved you for years, I’ve seen you on stage and you’re amazing. I was so sad and scared for you when I heard about this (I recently lost an uncle to lung cancer, and have lost others as well). But this blog is so empowering and beautiful and brave…and I love you even more for it. I’ll be praying for you too, God bless.

  16. You have no idea how much happy I’m to receive the email alert that you shared a new post! This is becoming my favorite reading! Thanks for sharing your journey with us, stay strong, you are beautiful!

  17. I love it!! You’re such an inspiration! I’m 31 and was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma last month. My first chemo treatment was yesterday and you’re not kidding..the nausea struggle is real girl! Except mine kicked in immediately. My hairs falling out soon too but I’m having trouble finding a long wig…I have super long, super blond hair that I honestly love. And I find myself loving it more now that I’m about to say adios to it..such is life huh. Stay strong and I follow you on Instagram (@saraozlee) as well! #wegotthis

  18. You are an absolutely gorgeous person both inside and out. I am keeping you in my prayers. You will best the thing, and the strength you are showing will make you a hero to many.
    Much love,
    Tim

  19. The cut looks good. I went thru a similar experience. Hooray for friend support.
    I have a little break from chemo while I have radiation and it is a little odd to see how much hair is growing back. Hello eyebrows, eyelashes, little baby hairs everywhere… Hoping not as much falls out for my last two rounds. Shall see! My wig wasn’t as expensive and I just “finished” wearing it a week ago. Was quite refreshing to be free.

  20. I like that idea of “cheating cancer”! It´s a really fun thought. You go girl!!! Have short hair as well and love it!!!

  21. I’ve always admired your work– and now I admire your inner beauty, spirit, and positivity! You are so, so brave to let us in and get to know you better, especially as you start this new journey. Your light shines so bright!!! And I’ve got a major girl-crush on you.

    Wishing you all the best and thank you for inspiring us all, in so many ways! And your hair is super fly.

  22. Krysta, I am sorry that you had to become a part of this sorority. I was “initiated” March 2012 and again October 2014. The second half of my journey has been more radical than the first. Mostly by choice. Nevertheless, I want to encourage you to continue to do what you are doing…encouraging others. It is truly amazing to have such a wonderful support group of “sisters” you do not know. As for your journey, here are a few suggestions, but please speak to you chemo nurse/doctor first. I was advised to take Claritin (yes the allergy medicine–over the counter) 1 hour before the Neulasta shot along with Tylenol. This will eliminate or at the very least allow the pain to be manageable. It worked for me…no bone pain. Also, to prevent mouth sores, keep your mouth cold. I ate ice right when my chemo drugs (adriamycin & cytoxan) were being administered. If you develop them, try ginger chews. Fortunately, I did not get them. Now for the hair. You look even more beautiful as you did at first and so will you be when you are bald. I love being bald. I am no longer a slave to my hair or my stylist. LOL! It is liberating! I like the fact that my hair doesn’t define me and I think that helps me embrace being without hair even more. I decided after my 2nd treatment to have my stylist shave me completely on New Years Eve 2014. I was already wearing a short style so it wasn’t too much to let go. Yet it was different…the end result that is. But in the end I loved it and so did my hubby and daughter. Everyone. I elected not to wear a wig as this is part of my testimony and this Pink Journey. I pray you will embrace your baldness with a boldness and show the world you are still beautiful even without your natural locks. And even if you decide to wear your wigs, I know you still will be FIERCE! Soldier on my Pink Sister and know this part of the journey is only for a while. I will be praying for you.

  23. i just finished up my last round of radiation, and I go back for chemo next week. You’re such an inspiration and it’s nice to read your stories. Thank you so much for being willing to share your stories with all of us

    Xx,
    Abby

  24. I just want to thank you for sharing your journey with us and being so open, honest and BLUNT!

    I started my journey with Hepatitis C 19 months ago. Well, I was diagnosed 19 months ago. I started my journey as a child, 35 years ago (I’m now 40), having multiple surgeries. I’ve learned in the last 19 months that there are good days and bad. And being honest has been the best thing I’ve ever done for me and for my journey.

    Coming out of the “medical closet” with any serious illness is never easy. So I applaud you. I decided back in June to come out with my story to educate people about Hep C and to help destigmatize it. The support has been phenomenal. I hope you get the same from your family and friends.

    Blessings and healing energies for you!

    Jahna

    P.S.
    I saw you on Broadway and you were nothing but kind to me backstage! Thank you for that!

  25. Thank you for describing the bone pain you endure, it’s not pretty but it’s true. My doc said only a few feel it like that but I sure did and it sounds like you do too. Thank you for your inspiring story! It will get worse before it gets better and there will be harder days and slower recoveries. Be strong and beautiful and amazing as you are. Thank you for making cancer beautiful.

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