They got to know each other on Celebrity Big Brother last autumn; now TV star Gail Porter looks set to be a true friend to fellow contestant Janice Dickinson after the American was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Former Blue Peter presenter Gail’s struggles with hair loss – caused, in her case, by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Universalis – have been well documented. Now that she is so used to the looks and stares caused by her smooth head and body, Gail told the Sun newspaper that if the first ever supermodel’s treatment turned out to include chemotherapy, which often causes hair to fall out, she’d be happy to offer help and support.
“If she wants to talk to me about hair I can talk hair all day long,” Gail told the Sun Online. “I think Janice will probably have the best wigs in the world. I don’t think Janice would do the bald look. She’s going to be glamorous all the time.”
May not need chemotherapy
At the time of writing, it appeared that Ms Dickinson might not need chemotherapy as she was apparently diagnosed with early stage ductal carcinoma in situ, which often doesn’t need to be treated with chemotherapy drugs. The Mail Online reported this week that the 61 year old has now had her initial biopsy surgery and is awaiting the results.
If it turns out that she does need chemotherapy, she may have the option of wearing a cold cap – like the one pictured here – during treatment, which could help Janice keep her hair. Cold caps – worn during treatment to keep chemotherapy drugs away from the scalp and, in turn, the hair follicles – are quite commonly used during breast cancer treatment. Although they are often known as ‘scalp cooling’ devices, these helmets actually freeze the scalp to such low temperatures that ice can form inside them.
While no cancer patient is ever under any illusion as to how serious the disease is, many women say that losing their hair to chemotherapy drugs is one of the hardest aspects of the ordeal. The drugs cause hair to fall out in a great number of cases, and the likelihood increases if radiotherapy treatment is involved. Radiotherapy to the head is virtually guaranteed to make hair fall out to some degree, although new delivery methods are currently being explored which hope to minimise this.
The good news is that hair lost during cancer treatment will often grow back of its own accord within a year: more than three quarters of patients who have undergone successful treatment can expect to see their own hair growing normally within this time-frame. If hair doesn’t grow back as before, however, clinically-proven hair loss treatments can help to stimulate growth.
Source of inspiration
Ms Porter, pictured here before her hair loss, became something of a ‘public face’ of Alopecia Areata after losing her hair in just four weeks in 2005. Her refusal to wear wigs or try and conceal what had happened have made her synonymous with ‘the bald look’ and a great source of inspiration for many other women who have lost their own hair.
In her 2007 autobiography, Gail wrote about her hair loss: “It has taught me not to stress about the things that don’t matter. I also met other people with Alopecia, which was very important to me. I think it’s good to talk to people to let them know that they’re not alone.”
Often those affected can be wrongly assumed to have cancer – when Janice Dickinson first met Gail Porter she too assumed this was the reason for her baldness – which can be extremely distressing.
Autoimmune alopecia conditions – from Alopecia Areata, which causes bald patches on the scalp and can often be successfully treated, to the less treatable Alopecia Totalis where the scalp becomes totally bald and facial hair including eyebrows and eyelashes can fall out, and the most severe form Alopecia Universalis whereby the entire body becomes hairless – are not widely understood which is why having celebrities such as Gail raise awareness is so important.
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.