Breast cancer survivor Becky Stokes: Shaving head is empowering, brave

September 24, 2014 | by Nicole White

Runners prize medals for 5Ks and marathons. Becky Stokes has a medal she cherishes from a very different kind of race: the marathon of treatments necessary to beat her aggressive triple-negative breast cancer.

Becky Stokes Becky Stokes celebrates the completion of her chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer. Now she has advice for other newly diagnosed women: Shave your head early.

Just a week ago, she completed her last radiation treatment, and danced in the hospital with the staff. (You can see for yourself on this video taken by her son.) As is a City of Hope tradition, at the conclusion of her therapy she received a medal and a certificate, tokens she cherishes.

This week, People Magazine's cover page will feature former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden, recently diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, smiling proudly, her head shaved, as she vows to beat her cancer. Lunden opted to shave her head rather than waiting for it to fall out, describing that wait as "excruciating."

Becky said she agrees with that advice, and shared her thoughts on the provocative cover. She wrote:

“I saw the cover of People Magazine with Joan Lunden, which will hit newsstands this Friday, and it brought a smile to my face. Why a smile you may ask? I see this Courageous, Beautiful, Strong woman who is determined to Fight and Win this battle with Cancer. To be quite honest, she reminds me of someone I know: ME.

Joan and I share similar stories. I, too, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, triple-negative breast cancer. I was scared, yes, but determined to stay positive and discover all the silver linings throughout my journey. Like Joan, I did not wait for cancer to be the cause of me losing my hair. I had it shaved off beforehand, and I felt empowered and brave. I also wanted to help others dealing with this disease. I met another breast cancer patient at City of Hope who had long beautiful hair, and her biggest fear was that she was going to lose it. I encouraged her to take baby steps and cut her hair on a weekly basis, and told her I shaved my hair off after my first treatment and why. That afternoon, she cut her hair and sent me a picture. We became Cancer Sisters after that. I applaud Joan for taking off her wig so that people, especially newly diagnosed cancer patients, could see how Courageous and Beautiful she is and her determination to BEAT THIS as it states on the cover page.

Like Joan, I went through chemo, had a lumpectomy and I just finished my last radiation last week. I did it! I BEAT CANCER and I know that Joan will do the same!  Thank you, City of Hope, for my Treatment, Amazing Doctors and Staff. Because of COH I felt  Courageous, Optimistic and Heroic.”


Learn more about breast cancer treatment and research at City of Hope.

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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