In her PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, opens up about her desire for a child and the ups and downs of cancer and fertility procedures.
This week I wanted to do something a lil different. One, because I’ve been really quite ill and haven’t been able to think straight through the medication haze to write a coherent blog. And two, because making a chemo hair loss video is something I have always wanted to do – video of the hair loss process was something I had searched for the first time I had cancer.
When I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I made the common mistake all patients do: I Googled! Yep, that dreaded Google search, where no matter what symptoms or disease you type in, it triggers the “Oh My Word, You’re Dying” results.
I also Googled for images of people undergoing chemotherapy. I wanted to see what people looked liked going through chemo … Scratch that – I wanted to see what girls my age looked like going through chemo. We have peer groups for a reason, and sometimes seeing someone who has gone through what you are about to go through is a massive aid when it comes to peace of mind.
So I Googled, and up popped Britney Spears‘s head shave pictures and Natalie Portman‘s V for Vendetta head shave pictures. As lovely as these ladies are, they never went through chemo, so a head shave picture wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted to find a mid-treatment picture of a early 20-something girl going through chemo … I wanted to see the bald pics.
Melissa Etheridge an Inspiration
I couldn’t find any pictures that fit that criteria, but one picture did pop out at me. It was a picture of Melissa Etheridge at the 2005 Grammys. Yes, she was older, but she looked so strong, vibrant and beautiful.
Looking at her pictures triggered an old memory. I vaguely remember watching Melissa walk down that 2005 Grammy red carpet with a bald head. At first glance I remember thinking Melissa had just shaved her head with a Bic razor as some sort of rock ‘n’ roll statement. I was quickly informed that wasn’t the case, and Melissa Etheridge was going through chemo for cancer.
I remember studying her picture on the Internet, amazed and proud she didn’t throw on a wig … she was bald, beautiful and strong! She had no fear, and her picture made me want to give early 20-somethings another image they could Google if facing cancer.
I was also curious about the hair-loss process. I wanted to see how the hair falling out actually happened. Like, how fast did it happen? What does it feel like when it comes out? What does it look like while it’s falling out?
So, because there were no videos or picture tutorials to gander at my first time around with cancer, I decided to make a video this time around. At my two-and-a-half week mark after my carbo/taxol chemo infusion treatment, I started recording my bi-nightly brushing of my hair ritual in order to show others what really goes on behind closed doors.
It’s a funny roller coaster, and at the end of the video something happened that really shocked me. I wasn’t prepared for it, but my inner Melissa Etheridge spirit kicked in, and I feel proud of how I handled it.
I hope this video helps in understanding and also helps give you a fascination fix on what goes on behind closed doors. It’s raw, real, no makeup or care at all about what I look like. I just wanted to make my Google search contribution, so that future patients Googling hair loss during chemo can see exactly what happens when you don’t shave it off. 🙂
Check back for updates every Thursday: Diem will be chronicling her journey through fertility treatments, chemotherapy and her quest to educate others about ovarian health exclusively for PEOPLE.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @DiemBrown.
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