“It’s time for it to go”: BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire on taking off her wig post-chemo

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Amy Swales
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Having been diagnosed with breast cancer almost two years ago, BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire has been documenting her experiences in a series of video blogs, with the aim of demystifying the disease and its treatment.

After undergoing a mastectomy and months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which finished in February last year, her most recent video diary tackled the subject of hair loss – a common and often traumatising side-effect of cancer treatment.

To do so, she removes the wig she’s worn since December, saying losing her hair was “the worst bit about cancer treatment, more so than having a mastectomy”.

And the emotional clip, which you can watch in full below, has struck a chord with viewers, making it the most-watched video on the BBC website the day it was posted and, at time of writing, garnering more than 1.1 million views on her Facebook page.

Journalist Derbyshire, 48, says in the clip she estimates she’d lost three-quarters of her hair over the course of the treatment.

“I have to say losing my hair was the worst bit about cancer treatment for me, more so than having a mastectomy. Don’t judge me for that, it’s just the way I felt.

“I’m grateful for this wig because it helped me get on with things, go to work, live my life normally without worrying. But it is time for it to go.”

Revealing her own hair underneath, she says: “This is about 12 months of growth since chemo finished. And it’s come back as thick as it was, if not thicker. As shiny as it was, slightly more ringlety than it was before.”

Nervously patting her hair, she adds: “I am actually apprehensive about taking my wig off because this is not me, but I know it doesn’t really matter what my hair looks like.”

In January 2016, she revealed she’d found the hair loss “distressing” and that she’d been wearing a wig for a “few weeks”, adding that she assumed her BBC colleagues had known: “I didn't tell anyone at work I was wearing one, because I needed a little time to adjust to it myself. I can confirm I'm now fully adjusted to it and so feel comfortable in being totally open about it.

“But we are a close-knit team at work and they are a bunch of journalists so I'm guessing they've sussed it already. If they haven't, I'll be a bit disappointed to be honest.”

She’s been applauded for her open and honest approach in her video diaries, even filming from her hospital bed in October 2015 following her mastectomy.

She said at the time that she was sharing her personal experience in the hope of proving that cancer can sometimes be “manageable”, and described having the operation as “totally doable. I didn't know those things until I got cancer. And that's what I want to tell people.

“I know everyone’s different when they're diagnosed – every cancer is different, everyone has a different experience, but that's mine and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you”.

In the most recent post, she says her new hair is “proof” that sometimes the difficult side-effects of chemotherapy can be overcome.

“When you’re in some of those dark moments during chemo you do doubt that,” she explains.

“But your body does slowly renew itself once chemo is complete and there’s something really optimistic about that.”


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.