Book excerpt: 'Bald, Fat & Crazy: How I Beat Cancer While Pregnant'

June 14, 2015 | by City of Hope

Within three days in 2007, Stephanie Hosford, then 37, learned that she was pregnant with her long-awaited second child – and that she had triple-negative breast cancer. Soon afterward, Hosford discovered that she and her husband, Grant, had been approved to adopt a little girl from China. 

"Bald, Fat & Crazy," by former City of Hope patient Stephanie Hosford "Bald, Fat & Crazy: How I Beat Cancer While Pregnant With One Daughter and Adopting Another," by former City of Hope breast cancer patient Stephanie Hosford, lands in bookstores June 15, 2015.

After encountering many physicians who advised them to terminate the pregnancy, the Hosfords found doctors at City of Hope who were confident they could successfully treat Stephanie without harming the baby. 

The Hosfords proceeded with both plans to expand their family, even while Hosford herself was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. In a previous Breakthroughs post, Hosford shared some advice with other patients, based on what she learned from her treatment experience.

Now Hosford has written a book about that experience, titled "Bald, Fat & Crazy: How I Beat Cancer While Pregnant With One Daughter and Adopting Another." 

Here, Hosford shares an excerpt from her new book.

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CHAPTER 14

"Livin' on the Edge" — Aerosmith I need a wig.  An exceptionally fantastic wig, that doesn’t look at all like a wig.  I don’t know if anything like that exists, especially in my non-pop star price range, but it’s time to get serious.  I’m running out of time if I want to be prepared before chemo begins next week.

A couple of days later, Mom, Jenn and I pull into the tiny parking lot in the back of BigWigs, a small wig shop in Hollywood.  We wander up and down the aisles, studying the mannequin heads that look back at us with frozen faces.

“How long should I go?”  I ask Jenn, sounding stoic as I try to hold in my emotions.

“Don’t go too long,” Mom intercedes.  “It gets very heavy, and my friend Janet said that she got one that was…”

“I know, I know,” I snap.  “It was cut like a pixie.  I don’t want to be a friggin’ pixie!” An overreaction, I know, but I’ve heard this story three times already and still couldn’t care less. I’ve never wanted a pixie haircut, despite Mom’s frequent suggestions throughout my life that I get one, so why would I want one now? “Sorry, Mom,” I add quietly. “But I don’t.” What I really want, what I’ve always wanted, is an enhanced version of my hair. Wavier, thicker, shinier. Now where is it?

I spot a layered blond to my right and pull it off the plastic head. I duck behind the curtain of one of the ‘dressing rooms’ and attempt to put it on. Oh, that is awful. I yank it off my head and return it to its rightful owner. In a few minutes, Mom comes over to me carrying two wigs, one blondish, one reddish, both short.

“Thanks,” I say as I take them from her hands. I save my eye rolling for when I’m turned away and heading back to the private cell. I try on each one and they are simply horrible—too puffy, too short, and/or dumb-looking bangs.

Within three days in 2007, Stephanie Hosford learned she was pregnant -- and that she had triple-negative breast cancer. (Credit: City of Hope) Within three days in 2007, Stephanie Hosford learned she was pregnant  and that she had triple-negative breast cancer. Soon after, she learned that her and her husband had been approved to adopt a daughter from China.

“Steph? How are they?” Mom is asking through the curtain. I slide the curtain back and hand them to her.

“Nope,” I say curtly and walk toward another aisle. My frustration mounts, as does my guilt for my somewhat rude behavior. But I can’t help it. This is worse than when I shopped for a bathing suit too soon after I had Ethan. Will I be leaving here empty-handed and eating a bowl of ice cream this time, too? How can these wigs look so good on the mannequins and so bad on me?

After trying on about twenty wigs and being disappointed about fifty times, I am ready to give up. I know that math doesn’t add up, but my disappointment is just so huge. Nothing looks right on me and we’ve been here for three hours! It is everything I can do not to run out of the store crying and pulling my own hair out, figuring I’ll get a head start on the whole thing. Instead I decide to ask a salesperson for help, which I probably should have done when I first entered this stupid store.

His name is Arthur, my dad’s middle name, so maybe he is supposed to help me get through this. "What are you looking for in a wig, pretty lady?” he asks me with a perfect cross between a pout and a smile.

“Well,” I begin, perking up slightly, “I want my hair, only better.”

Arthur reaches across the counter and lightly touches my hair. “Honey, I have just the thing for you…it’s amazing—I wore it myself in blond for New Year’s Eve!”

I smile because Wig Shop Arthur is everything I realize I want in a hair consultant—attentive, complimentary… and fabulous. He turns dramatically on his heel and goes into the stock room, returning shortly with a longish rectangular box under his arm. He removes the lid and pulls out a long (but not too dramatically long), brunette wig. It is shiny (but not too dramatically shiny), and has what looks to be just the right amount of soft curls. He brushes it a little and then instructs me on the correct way to place a wig on one’s head, which requires more finesse than flopping it over my hair and tugging down with both hands at once like I’m struggling to put on a turtleneck, which is what I’d been doing. I look in the mirror and both my sister and I exclaim in unison, “That’s it!” I look at myself from as many angles as possible with the help of Arthur and his hand mirrors.

“This is the one,” I say and finally smile at my reflection. “I’ll take two.”

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Learn more about the book and the author at stephaniehosford.com.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. 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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