First, indulge in your favorite vice.
It doesn't matter if it's caffeine, green drinks, alcohol, sodium, or nicotine: you'll need something to ease the shock of going hairless. Indulge.
Second, find a friend.
Going hairless is hard. It means not only that you're sick, but that you look sick to other people. Once you buzz off your locks, there's no hiding that you have something wrong with you. Even the most intentional, carefully-dyed Annie Lennox locks will draw second looks from people in the local Target. Friends help you get through it.
Third, be thorough.
Make sure your hair is clean and dry. If you're altered to the point that you can't be trusted to pick out clipper guards, have your pal do it. Do not, under any circumstances, go after your bangs with a pair of nail clippers. Make this an event, not an afterthought.
Fourth, be relentless.
Make sure everything is even. If you have eighteen hairs left on your head, be certain-sure that those eighteen hairs are all a quarter- or half-inch long (whatever you've chosen), and that none of them are out of alignment. That makes your haircut look like something you've planned, and not something that just happened to you.
Fifth, consider dye.
I dyed my hair screaming orangeish-red, the color it was when I was a teenager, just after I buzzed it short in anticipation of radiation (which, Praise to the Power, did not have to happen). Beloved in Beer saw me as I was sitting with the dye on my head and was not freaked out, and later said, "You look just like you did when you were eighteen."
If you can, make the loss of hair something that looks intentional. Even if you're sick, one person out of three will instead assume that you're incredibly bad-ass.
Just after I had shaved my head, when I was mourning the loss of my hair, a man stopped me in the grocery store. He was six foot something, and Black, and had dreadlocks down to his waist. "I'm sorry to bother you," he told me, "but I have to tell you that that is one kickass haircut."
"Thanks!" I said, "You're not so gruesome yourself."
Sixth, look at yourself hard.
It's hard, hard, hard to see yourself in the mirror once you've gotten rid of that stuff you've combed over or twisted up or pulled back. Do it anyhow. Notice how your face looks different, how your eyes pop, how your jaw is more defined. This is how you'll be looking at yourself for the rest of your life: in varying ways due to varying circumstances.
Seventh, be not afraid.
If you really can't stand it, it'll grow back. In the meantime, wear a hat.
Eighth, while we're on the subject of accessories....
Hats are not an admission of defeat. Neither is really amazing, tarted-up-like-a-three-dollar-whore makeup. Nor are tattoos or scarves or earrings or anything else you might do to deal with your bald or buzzed head. Anything you do, other people will see as an accessory, even if you see it as a compensation.
Ninth: Scars are not bad.
If you lose your hair secondary to radiation after a radical neck dissection, wear your scars with pride. You're on the upside: You one, cancer zero.
And even if IT wins in the end, you've had a few months of kicking its ass.
Tenth, It Will Grow Back.
Cancer does not change who you are. It might, for a short amount of time--but the number of people whom CA NSUH changes permanently is small. We always revert to who we are at the end of the day.
If you want a mullet, your mullet will grow back. If you want waist-length, wavy stuff with red highlights, that'll happen too (shout-out to Cenobio!). If you decide you really like the buzzed look, you can keep it.
Cancer can't change who you are at the core. It'll change how you think, for a while. It'll change how you eat--maybe forever. It'll change how you feel about stuff, off and on. It'll change how you look--but that's in your control.
But, at the end of the day, you are still Lara. Or Jo. Or Cenobio. It's a fucking clump of fucking crazy cells; it's not the end of you.
Have fun with your trimmers. Make sure they're sharp.