BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire has been documenting her fight against breast cancer, which led to hair loss when she underwent chemotherapy treatment.
Now, following 16 months of wearing a wig, the well-regarded 48-year-old has reported that she no longer needs to wear it. “Probably about half or three-quarters of my hair fell out,” she said in a video statement on her Facebook page during which she is seen wearing the wig for what may be the very last time. “I have to say that losing my hair was the worst bit about cancer treatment for me. More so than having a mastectomy.”
“Don’t judge me for that,” she said. “it’s just the way I felt. And I’m grateful to this wig, actually, because it helped me get on with things, go to work, live my life normally without worry.”
But, she said, it is time for the wig to go. The video then shows Ms Derbyshire lifting off her wig to reveal that she is sporting a full head of wonderfully luxurious hair, about five inches in length, underneath. It is very poignant and visible proof that losing your hair to cancer isn’t necessarily going to be a long-term concern.
Hair fall frequently happens during chemotherapy treatment as the drugs, which are powerful by necessity, damage hair follicles and cause hair to fall out. To avoid this, some women are offered the chance of wearing a cold cap during treatment, the idea being that this device can chill the scalp and restrict the flow of blood supply (containing the chemotherapy drugs) as it circulates around the head. Cold caps have a very encouraging success rate, but they are not available everywhere and also are not suitable for every type of treatment.
“This is about 12 months of growth since chemo finished,” said Ms Derbyshire as she ran her hands through her new locks. "It’s come back as thick as it was, if not thicker. It’s as shiny as it was and slightly more ‘ringlety’ than it was before.”
This is often the case with hair growth after chemotherapy; the hair may grow back curly - or curlier, it might also change in colour as well as texture, but these effects often only last for a few growth cycles. Usually the hair should be back to normal within two years.
Victoria Derbyshire did, however, state that she is apprehensive about waving goodbye to her wig because her new image “is not me” meaning that the style is substantially shorter than her normal look, which the wig had convincingly emulated.
“The point is that this is proof, if proof were needed, that once chemotherapy is complete, your hair does grow back,” she said, adding that when you are in some of “those dark moments” during chemo you do doubt that. “But your body does slowly renew itself and there’s something really optimistic about that,” she added.
At the time of writing, more than 25,000 people had seen the video, and there had been well over 100 comments about it on Facebook, many of them stating that the presenter looked better and/or younger with her new, shorter hair.
The BBC2 regular has recently finished the first draft of a book about her cancer journey which is entitled 'Dear Cancer, Love Victoria'. You can watch videos from throughout her battle with cancer on the BBC's online Victoria Derbyshire 'Cancer Diaries' channel.
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