Bald and beautiful: Cancer patients' inspiring stories
"When I look in the mirror bald, I can be overwhelmed by my strength or disarmed by my vulnerability," Benn tells CBS News. "There are moments when I see a warrior, a fighter, a bad-ass. Then there are moments when I see a cancer patient, a victim, or a shadow of my former self. I am learning to accept, embrace, and love my many selves."
Keep clicking to hear what other cancer patients say about their own baldness.
Stacey Isaacs"My hair fell out after I was told the cancer was gone and I was done with treatment. It was beautiful because it signified I had fought the battle and won. It was a badge of honor. It was a reminder not to sweat the small stuff."
-Stacey Isaacs, stage 3 choriocarcinoma. In remission.
Rebecca Audet"Being bald challenged me to reconsider my own sense of identity and femininity. Being bald wasn't beautiful unless I owned it with confidence and security - like wearing a sexy red dress."
-Rebecca Audet, stage 3 breast cancer. In remission.
Ethan Zohn"To take control of my horrible situation, I decided to shave my head rather than watch it fall out. I was not embarrassed or ashamed. I didn't want to hide it. It was my decision, and it put me in charge. It was empowering and enabled me to own my cancer. Going through chemo and losing all my hair was liberating. It was like going through puberty backwards."
-Ethan Zohn, Hodgkin's lymphoma. In remission.
Brooke Pallot"I had one more chemo to go when my daughter and I took this picture. I had no eyebrows or eyelashes, which was harder for me than losing the hair on my head. She didn't care about hair. All she saw was her MOMMY, and that is what is beautiful. Unconditional love."
-Brooke Pallot, stage 4 breast cancer. No evidence of disease (NED).
Billie Christie"The thought of losing my hair was daunting. Then the day my fiance shaved off the falling pieces, it was a burden lifted. I saw myself differently. Though I still have moments when I stare at everyone's hair, I remind myself that - with or without it - I am strong, beautiful, and confident! I wear my baldness with pride!!"
-Billie Christie, stage 1 breast cancer. In remission.
Max Plotkin"Max is my hero. He taught us how to be courageous, positive and brave! We are now raising funds to help find less toxic cancer treatments for children."
-Max Plotkin, diagnosed at age 4 with rare form of lymphoma. In remission. (written by Max's father, David Plotkin, of Maxcure.org).
Natorsha Yates"As my hair was beginning to shed, I was miserable and felt like I was losing my femininity. One night I got up around 2 a.m. and shaved my head. I didn't want to wait and let it happen to me. The next morning I was so afraid my daughter was going to be traumatized. She looked at me, rubbed my head and said one word: "Beautiful." In that moment, I felt as beautiful as I did having a head full of hair. Since chemo, I continue to keep my buzz cut. I feel so amazing and free and, yes, beautiful."
-Natorsha Yates, breast cancer. No evidence of disease.
Jeff Sirlin"I never went completely bald. My hair just thinned out big-time. If I had gone bald, it wouldn't have been a big deal because I see it as a sign of strength. There's nothing tougher in this world than fighting cancer. I basically lived in my hat for six months. It was important to me to keep things as normal as possible for my 2-year-old son, Noah."
-Jeff Sirlin, stage 3 colon cancer. No evidence of disease.
Stephanie Green"Losing her hair was the hardest for Stephanie. Without it, none of us would have known how beautiful she looked with a shaved head, how graceful and brave she was in meeting a young woman's biggest challenge. When it did grow back, thicker and more beautiful than ever, there was no better excuse in the world to have it styled by celebrity hair stylist Oribe, one of her idols."
-Stephanie Green died of breast cancer on January 9, 2011. Written by her brother, Michael Green.
Meredith Israel"I didn't start chemo immediately, so I kept my hair for six months. When I found out my hormone treatments weren't working, I had to go on chemo, which meant losing my hair. As I felt the cancer had been winning everything else, I wanted to lose my hair on my terms. I had a head shaving party with my family and other survivors. There was a lot of laughter and LOTS of tears, but I did it my way. That is what mattered to me."
-Meredith Israel, stage 4 breast cancer. Undergoing treatment.
Danere Truax"Bald is beautiful, and our daughter Danere was a great example in many ways to those who knew her. She wore military caps and bandanas and went "natural," as this helped her share her story and spread the word about early detection. Danere was a compassionate, strong spirit with a crazy sense of humor. One thing is for sure - no amount of hair loss could ever have taken away any of those precious gifts."
-Danere Truax died of breast cancer at age 28 on December 9, 2010. Written by her mother, Denise.
Andrea Nugent"Being bald to me is beautiful because it taught me to love myself that much more. Without hair there is nothing to hide behind. You have to embrace your inner beauty and let it shine through. To me, beauty comes from the heart. Hair or no hair, I am happy to be here to celebrate God's grace in my life."
-Andrea Nugent, stage 3 breast cancer. In remission.
Theresa Lane"I am brave! I am a fighter. I will never give up! I am beautiful bald!"
-Theresa Lane, stage 2 breast cancer. In remission.
Heidi Wildstein"Bald was fun for my kids. They loved it!!! They loved touching it and showing it off to their friends. I loved the FASTPASS through Disney World and rainy days (felt so awesome on my head)."
-Heidi Wildstein, stage 2 breast caner. In remission.
Darlene Di Sabatino"Everyone recommended that I shave my head to 'take control' of the situation. I looked at it the other way. I was going to hold on to my hair for as long as I could. I cried more when my hair fell out than I did when I received my stage 4 diagnosis. Being bald took away my anonymity. It was like having 'I HAVE CANCER' written on my forehead."
-Darlene Di Sabatino, stage 4 breast cancer. Undergoing treatment.
Matthew Zachary"A bald 21-year-old at a liberal arts university back in 1995 wouldn't normally attract many vacant stares. But the tanned skin, wan physique, and sunken eyes were a dead-on giveaway that this scalp-shearing was not elective. It was horrifying."
-Matthew Zachary, medulloblastoma (rare cogenital brain tumor). In remission for 15 years. He's the founder of I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation.