Monday, February 27, 2017
The story behind "The Role of Hair Loss in Cancer Identity: Perceptions of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia Among Women Treated for Early-Stage Breast Cancer or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ"
"This article arose from my PhD research where I interviewed 24 women who had been treated for early breast cancer. Although I expected to hear about experiences of hair loss from women who had been through chemotherapy treatments, what was surprising was the way it was discussed by the participants who did not have chemotherapy and consequently did not lose their hair. It seems that hair loss is so heavily associated with cancer treatment that women who kept their hair reported that they sometimes felt that people did not believe them, and sometimes they missed out on practical and social support as a result.
When the article was published online by Cancer Nursing, a press release was issued by the University of Nottingham which generated a lot of international interest. (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/pressreleases/2016/april/hair-loss-in-women-with-breast-cancer-can-have-major-implications-on-their-sense-of-identity.aspx) I was approached by the local BBC news for an interview and they wanted to also feature someone who was currently suffering chemotherapy-induced alopecia. As it happened, my hairdresser (Dawn) was having breast cancer treatment and very generously agreed to be interviewed on camera and share her experiences. The irony of working as a hairdresser whilst suffering hair loss was a powerful message, made even more poignant by Dawn's honest and open account of how her treatment affected her sense of femininity. Her interview has been viewed over 5,000 times on Facebook and attracted numerous supportive messages. (https://www.facebook.com/bbc.emt/videos/1322333427783744/)
Doing the research was important to me as a breast cancer survivor myself. I wanted to highlight the experiences that were shared with me by my participants which may help patients in the future as they deal with the often traumatic ordeal of breast cancer treatment. I am extremely proud that this article has been published by Cancer Nursing because now I know that the message will be spread worldwide and be read by professionals who can make a real difference to cancer patients' lives."
—Dr Diane Trusson on her paper "The Role of Hair Loss in Cancer Identity: Perceptions of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia Among Women Treated for Early-Stage Breast Cancer or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ," (co-author Alison Pilnick, PhD) published online in CANCER NURSING Volume 40, Issue 2. The full article is found below and may be viewed with a subscription.