C is for…

I had felt that I was being exceptionally lucky not having a single side effect from my medication. Thanking Dabrafenib every day for being so selective to the BRAF protein. However that is not to be. Over the last fortnight I’ve noticed that my hair was subtly changing in plain sight. The first thing I noticed was a reduction in my chest hair. This was confirmed while staying in Oxford, with some of my old housemates, who actually thought I’d become more metro and had started shaving it off. This would be unlikely, I like my chest hair. I actually remember doing a crude survey years ago I think on the halls bus in first year. Probably to make my friend, who has seemingly missed puberty, jealous. About a third of the girls liked it, a third were indifferent and a third liked a smoother man. So even if I was that vain its pointless. I realise that a collection of medic girls, at 8am, with a hangover feeling nauseated from the bumpy ride down Radcliffe road aren’t exactly representative of the UK female population but we will pretend they are.

Secondly and perhaps more subtly was a wave going through my head hair, I have enough hair so it’s worth differentiating! I initially thought I was mistaken or it was due to wearing a motorcycle helmet. But no, it really has become curly, well curly for Dave and I after all we share the same hair. The biggest confirmation of this was at a pub quiz last week with all my brothers. Dave shared my shock at this realisation. Matt whose hair I seem to have imitated, was not particularly sympathetic, and Paul who has lost his hair many moons ago was even less so. For me it highlights a couple things. Firstly, I’m not side effect free and secondly, if I survive this, I may not just have different values and opinions (it’s character building but I wouldn’t recommend it, apply to be on Bear Grylls the island instead) I’ll probably look different too. I’m hoping the hair will stay, I look at bottom of the shower and see a couple of hairs floating away, goodbye old friends, but then again that’s definitively normal, isn’t it? As my hair was so straight before, actually only by comparing me side by side with Dave is it so obvious of the change. Never did I think Dave would be a point of reference of how I used to look. Although Dave and I have never been tested, if I was a gambling man, I would bet on that we share the same genes. However most people can tell us apart, even when Dave doesn’t have a beard. The strange thing is there are a few people who are useless at it, which has led me to think there is an epidemic of mild facial blindness (a condition where people cannot  recognise faces), but that discussion is for another day.

A quick google search shows it is a rare side effect, with the internet suggesting it is has only happened a few times before. It is a reminder that actually any treatment I take, is a dice roll. Quite simply not enough people have had these treatments yet to fully know all the side effects that are possible. I can’t remember the actual number, but I remember from my pharmacology lectures being told you need to give a drug to a very large number, millions, before you can truly guess it’s effects on all humans. Dabrafenib has probably only been given to about 10000 people at a high estimate, the others even less. You have to think what choice do I have, which is none, if at the beginning they said here’s the side effects pick a few, curly hair and mild chest hair loss would be high up on the list of those I’d opt for. 

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