A teenager has been left devastated after photos charting her struggle with hair loss from chemotherapy were reported to Facebook as being ‘offensive’, after she shaved her head. She later discovered a friend she had made during treatment had the same experience.
Bald selfies reported as ‘offensive’
Nineteen year old Tiffany Williams regularly posted social media updates during her battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These often centred around her hair loss, brought on by cancer treatment, as she tried to decide whether or not to shave her head. But when Tiffany finally made the brave decision to cut off her hair and let a friend shave the rest, she did not get the reaction she expected.
After posting two bald-headed selfies to commemorate her proactive step, her photos were reported to Facebook. Despite the images, pictured here, being simple self-portraits, Tiffany found her photos being reported as ‘offensive’ for containing ‘nudity’.
Photos meant to inspire
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Tiffany explained, ‘Feeling proud, I updated my friends on Facebook with the caption “I did it!” – and about two hours later found that someone had reported it for nudity. It didn’t get deleted but I knew it must have been someone I had as a friend. I posted a nice one of me with my make-up on the day after, and that got reported too’.
Tiffany later found that her friend, leukaemia patient Jessica Varsey, had experienced the same thing.
After Varsey posted a photo of her chest scars to celebrate her Hickman Line catheter being removed, the image was also reported, as was a shot of her bald head.
‘As soon as I put it up it was reported for nudity, then straight away a selfie of my bald head was also reported – the first ever picture I posed with no hair. It really upset me as I didn’t see what the big deal was’, she said.
‘All I was doing was trying to help others that might need that little boost to show that no one is different, with or without hair or scars.’
The pair, who are now in remission, were upset at their conclusion that one of their 80 mutual Facebook ‘friends’ must have been behind these incidents.
Hair loss from chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment which can cause hair loss as a side effect. This happens because the medication designed to attack cancerous cells cannot always distinguish them from healthy cells, including the follicles responsible for hair growth.
The hair may start to shed as quickly as two-to-three weeks into chemo, whilst it generally takes up to 12 months after treatment ends for regrowth to occur. Whilst for most the hair will grow back, on rare occasions the baldness may become permanent.
Although chemotherapy does not always cause hair loss, some people opt to receive something called cold cap treatment to help them keep their hair. This involves wearing a cap that freezes the scalp during chemo to prevent the drugs from reaching the hair follicles.
Many patients report that seeing their hair fall out is one of the hardest things about having cancer as it is such a visual confirmation of the disease. Luckily, new DNA-based cancer treatments are currently being investigated and it is hoped these will reduce or obliterate side effects like hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.