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How this breast cancer survivor made the most of her hair before chemo

Angela Trimbur has tried all sorts of hairstyles before undergoing chemo treatment.
Angela Trimbur's cancer hair journey
Angela Trimbur's cancer hair journey has been permed, blond, short and eventually shaved.angelatrimbur/Instagram
/ Source: TODAY

Dancer and actress Angela Trimbur did something last week that she never expected to do: She shaved her head.

After inviting a few close friends over, the 37-year-old L.A. City Municipal Dance Squad captain writhed around while shearing off her locks with clippers. Of course, Trimbur has experimented with hairstyles before for work projects, but this recent sudden hair change wasn’t for an acting role.

Trimbur was just about to start her second round of chemo — when hair often falls out as a side effect from the treatment — and she wanted to be one step ahead of the game. This latest hair change was simply one of many the actress has made since being diagnosed with breast cancer in July, but it was a move she'd been building up to for a while, as she previously discussed with Vogue.

After her diagnosis, Trimbur decided she might as well make something positive out of a scary situation and started documenting a series of major hair changes on Instagram.

“I decided that if I was going to lose my hair anyways and had some time while freezing my eggs before chemo started, I would have fun taking it in various stages that I’ve always wanted to try but had internal fears of doing so,” Trimbur told TODAY Style. "Sharing it seemed like an obvious thing to do. I decided to publicly share my whole cancer journey and this was a major step in making it a more memorable process."

Over the course of a few months, Trimbur, who has appeared on shows such as "The Good Place" and "NCIS", has transformed her long brown hair into a perm, highlighted it a lighter brown, cut her locks into a shoulder-length crop, went dirty blond and then later platinum blond, dyed her strands an icy blue hue, then returned to brown for a '90s boy band haircut and ended with a Mia Farrow-style pixie.

Her favorite look so far? A somewhat unexpected style.

"To my surprise, my favorite was the platinum blond blunt bob. I would have never tried that before and do hope to return to it in the future," she said.

Before her diagnosis, Trimbur had switched up the color and length of her naturally light brown hair before, but her style had stayed pretty static over the last six years.

"I’ve just been wanting to focus on growing my hair out and keeping it healthy and shiny and maintaining a long length. As an actor, I felt that it was the best look for all roles I’d play and sort of felt restricted in a sense — albeit, self-inflicted restrictions," she said.

After undergoing a double mastectomy, the prospect of losing her hair really started to hit Trimbur hard.

"After hearing about cold caps (a non-guaranteed modern freezing technique that ices your scalp for four to five hours prior to chemo to attempt to prevent at least half of your hair from falling out), I felt holding onto any amount of my hair using this somewhat painful technique was not for me," Trimbur said.

So the actress enlisted two of her pals — colorist Bianca Hillier of Andy Lecompte Salon and hairstylist Sal Salcedo of Nova Arts Salon — to help her embrace her cancer hair journey.

"They’ve been extremely kind and I’m so honored that such a talented top colorist and stylist felt invested in helping me with their time," she said. "These looks were important for me to be done right, as if I was truly doing this for keeps, so that I could live with each look for a while in an invigorating way and stand a bit taller, versus holding the hourglass on my shoulders just waiting for that daunting shave."

From her colorist's perspective, the process has been unique and pretty inspiring.

"It’s sweet to see someone fall in love with their hair and themselves over and over. Angela has a gentle yet comical view on everything she has been experiencing and it has truly allowed me to loosen up, relax and acknowledge that hair is merely an accessory. If everyone had Angela’s approach to such a severe medical condition the world would be a happier place," Hillier told TODAY Style.

Watching Trimbur act with such courage and positivity has left quite the impact on Salcedo as well.

"I think this is one of the most inspirational missions I’ve been a part of. I remember talking to Angela about how I do this every day with women, but at a smaller scale. And the fact that she was going to go through this in such a way meant that she was being called to the test. She seemed to realize at that moment that the beginning of something bigger than herself was about to begin," he said.

Aside from providing hope for others going through a similar situation, Trimbur's Instagram hair journey has also helped her track her own cancer story.

"When I look back at photos of my journey, I can bookmark the chapters of cancer and where I was at with it all through which hair look I had at the time," she said.

The process has also provided plenty of inspiration for when her hair returns.

"Taking my haircuts sort of backwards to what the grow out process will be like has eased my fear of the unknown. I know that I actually really like the pixie — Who knew!? — and the way I want to shape it out when it starts to grow even more gives me a goal versus an in-the-moment scramble," Trimbur said.

After shaving her hair last week, Trimbur asked Hillier to bleach it platinum blond to make the look "less daunting" when her hair starts to fall out. But once her hair is fully gone, the 37-year-old doesn't plan on shying away from the bald look.

"I plan to wear my head bald in public ... I think many people going through chemo may wear wigs so as not to make other people feel uncomfortable when perhaps it’s a truly empowering feeling to silently say with my bald, shiny head: 'Yes, this is what I’m going through. Hello, how are you today?'" Trimbur said.

Instagram users and Trimbur's own personal network have responded with an outpouring of love and support, and she feels blessed to help others going through a similar situation.

"It feels like I’m helping others by helping myself, which is a very fulfilling feeling," she said. "And it’s always nice to post a new look and read the exciting comments of support. I smile a lot. It’s a cozy smile."