Author: Sarah Belgravia
Award-winning journalist and LGBT activist Dean Eastmond, has died at the age of 21 following a short battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma having been diagnosed in 2016.
Eastmond was known for his frank and moving column which charted his journey as a young cancer patient. From being diagnosed and living with a terminal illness, to related issues such as dealing with the associated hair loss, his unique insights were further published in titles as diverse as The Independent and Teen Vogue.
Weymouth-born Dean also used his platform to continue his LGBTQI work by campaigning for equal fertility rights for gay men and LGBT+ training for staff on cancer wards. He garnered huge swathes of support and tributes from the community, including the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as celebrities including Dua Lipa and Nicole Scherzinger.
Experiencing cancer hair loss as a man
Dean Eastmond wrote openly about his cancer experience for HISKIND.com, an LGBT lifestyle publication which he co-founded with his best friend, Josh Fletcher. Dean told Attitude magazine just a month before his death, “I come across so brave and positive online but the reality is that this is the hardest most toughest time time of my life and I try and keep it together but it is absolutely terrifying…”
One of Eastmond’s most moving pieces concerned the feeling of ‘losing his masculinity’ when he lost his hair following chemotherapy. His boyfriend, Adam Packer (pictured here with Dean), spoke to the BBC’s Victoria Live show about Dean’s experience of losing his hair.
“That was a really odd day, when he actually shaved his hair off,” Adam recounts. “It started falling out in, like, clumps while he showered, and I didn’t really know how he was going to respond to that because his hair was his pride and joy… He just woke up and said “I’m going to shave it off”, and he took me downstairs with the shaver and I did the back, and he did the rest.”
“With that article, he did say something really powerful with that. And that is one of my favourite articles of his because he was right – a lot of people brush off losing your hair when you’re a male cancer patient. It’s just “oh, men have bald heads,” or “oh, you didn’t have long hair anyway so it doesn’t really matter,” but it did. It really, really did.”
Helping boys and men cope
When it comes to preventing hair loss from chemotherapy, there is a misconception that cold caps – such as that used by Victoria Live host, Victoria Derbyshire, herself a cancer survivor – are for women only.
Whilst scalp cooling systems were initially used predominantly on breast cancer patients, this did not exclude men from using them. Since then, the number of cancers adjunctive cold cap therapy is approved for has risen, and can be used by both men and women. By chilling the scalp to extremely low temperatures during chemo, blood carrying the chemotherapy drugs is temporarily restricted from reaching the hair follicles. As a result, more of the hair is retained. Whilst still considered a fairly new technology, some areas – such as Northern Ireland– are still without cold caps.
For boys and young men who do experience hair loss from cancer treatment – especially in the case where a cold cap cannot be used, or from radiotherapy which often causes permanent baldness where the lasers touch the skin – a new charity may help. Hero by LPT is the recently launched division of the popular hair loss charity Little Princess Trust, aimed specifically at providing support and free real-hair wigs to boys and young men affected by cancer or other conditions which can cause baldness, such as alopecia areata.
In many cases cancer survivors will experience full regrowth – though their hair may be a little different at first – within around 12 months from ending treatment. For those who don’t and would like specialist help, hair loss treatment can be possible but written confirmation that they are suitable is required from the patient’s oncologist before any course can start.
Finding relevant information regarding what to expect and the support available is crucial following a cancer diagnosis. As Adam Packer explains,”Dean wanted people, through the cancer column, to have somewhere that’s accessible and first hand about a cancer experience, because when he was diagnosed he got that bog-standard booklet where it explains what might happen and what chemotherapy’s like, and – it was great, don’t get me wrong, he’s appreciative of what the Teenage Cancer Trust did and the support they’ve given – but it wasn’t everything. And I think Dean gave that really frank and honest view through the column and through his writing…”
You can read Dean Eastmond’s cancer column on HISKIND.
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.