TV broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, 46, said that loosing her hair made her feel ‘powerless’ and although she ‘liked her breasts’ a mastectomy was ‘no big deal in the great scheme of things.’
The journalist, who shared a candid view into her life with breast cancer through an intimate, self-recorded video series, said that she was shocked by how powerless hair loss – a side effect to chemotherapy – made her feel.
Speaking to The Times Magazine, she said that she filmed the moment her first fistful of hair came out when she was getting ready for a friend’s 40th birthday celebration – but she still attended and stayed out until 3am.
As her chemotherapy sessions progressed, so did her hair loss.
‘It was grotesque and I had no control over it,’ she told The Times Magazine.
Victoria Derbyshire in a video for her cancer diaries series after her mastectomy earlier that day. She said: ‘I feel alright, I can’t believe it’ and ‘The NHS staff have been Awesome’
By the end of treatment, her head was bald on top, with some long strands around the side but she chose not to cut it off.
‘I understand that it’s supposed to be empowering, but I couldn’t do it. I felt better having a bit of hair, even though it was gross,’ she told The Times Magazine.
But the surgical removal of her breast was less traumatic than losing her hair.
The broadcaster had started fronting her current affairs programme on BBC2 and News Channel in April 2015, just four months before her diagnosis with breast cancer
She said that hair loss made her feel ‘powerless’ but she chose to remove her wig on her video series an emotional scene in Victoria Derbyshire breast cancer diary part 3: Hair loss
She wrote in her diary that losing her hair was much worse than losing a breast ‘because without your hair, you don’t look like you.’
‘I did like my breasts, for what it’s worth, but in the great scheme of things it’s no big deal.
‘I just thought – let’s just do it, let’s get on with it. I don’t care. It’s gone.’
She had reconstructive surgery after the mastectomy and a surgeon kept her nipple intact, although it no longer has sensation.
She now wears a foam filler in her bra to ‘pad it out’ and she has even worn a bikini since the operation.
She said that she ‘went into practical mode’ when she discovered that she may have cancer.
Mother to two young boys, Oliver, 11, and Joe, 8, the BBC journalist told The Times Magazine that the financial implications for her family of her possible death were her most urgent thoughts after she discovered changes in her right breast.
Her cancer journey, shared through her intimate video diaries, have raised awareness about cancer and highlighted the fact that there can be a path back to regular life.
But she told The Times Magazine that when she first noticed changes in her right breast, including an inverting nipple and googled her symptoms, she thought that she was going to die.
She began fronting her current affairs programme on BBC2 and News Channel in April 2015, just four months before her diagnosis with breast cancer.
‘I was like, I can’t f****** believe this. It’s outrageous. I haven’t got time for this, you know. I’ve just started a new programme. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my job. I don’t want to die,’ she told The Times Magazine.
Despite the diagnosis of grade two lobular breast cancer – grade three being the most dangerous – and the spectre of its possible spread to her brain, Ms Derbyshire describes how she immediately went into practical mode.
Her partner, Mark Sandell, a radio producer, happened to be facing possible redundancy and she had just cancelled her mortgage protection cover months before the diagnosis.
‘You think, f***, shit, this really is it. I remember sitting with Mark at the kitchen table and saying, ‘We need to talk about this. If I die, you’re going to have to sell this house.’
‘I went into practical mode. ‘Sell the house; downsize; the kids can still go to the same schools.’
But following a mastectomy, six sessions of chemotherapy, thirty sessions of radiotherapy and having to take the drug tamoxifen for the foreseeable future, she has been told by doctors that there is no evidence of cancer, although there is an 11 per cent chance of it recurring.
She returned to work less than a month after the mastectomy and the day after her final radiotherapy session, she presented a debate on the EU referendum.
Later this month she will publish a book Dear Cancer, Love Victoria, based on her diaries during her illness.
Speaking to The Times Magazine, she said: ‘I feel as normal as I ever was. I definitely think that cancer has chipped away a little bit of the armour, softened me. I don’t think about it, but when I do, I cry quite easily.
‘Maybe this is contradictory – but having got through it, I also feel invincible. Honestly, there is nothing more you can do to me because I got through it.’