One brave cancer survivor has gone viral online, sporting whacky hairstyles to raise awareness.
Shell Rowe began documenting her cancer journey on social media, sticking everyday objects like popcorn and glitter, to her head to create crazy hairstyles.
After first being diagnosed with non- Hodgkin lymphoma in August 2019 when a tennis ball-sized lump was found in her neck, Shell has now amassed 700,000 followers online wearing the outlandish hairdos.
The stage 4 cancer survivor from Billericay, Essex has said she hopes to show “positivity” during her cancer battle and raise awareness and money for Teenage Cancer Trust, EssexLive reported.
A film and TV student, Shell said making videos was how she coped with her diagnosis. She said: “Making positive videos is just part of how I reframe my life and choose to look at things.
“If you trick your brain into thinking things aren’t that bad then things really won’t seem so bad. You have to fake laugh until you start really laughing.
“Every time I’ve gotten bad news, I ask myself how I can process it and deal with it so that it works in my favour.”
Since Shell’s first diagnosis she has relapsed three times but the Essex native has been in remission since February 2022.
She said: “I could not have gotten through my treatment without Teenage Cancer Trust so I wanted to do some kind of fundraiser or campaign to give back to them.
“My hairstyle videos have taken off on TikTok and I thought it was a great way to raise awareness, and money and have some fun with it. Positivity through my videos is very important to me.”
According to the NHS, stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system – a network of vessels and glands throughout the body.
Back in the summer of 2019, Shell found a large lump on her neck, and a number of other lumps elsewhere, so sought medical help.
Alongside the lumps, Shell said looking back she had had other symptoms including bad fatigue and night sweats but she didn’t seek help until she noticed the lumps.
She said: “I didn’t take it seriously at all – me and my family were laughing about it. It wasn’t until I got my diagnosis that I realised just how serious it was. One of my first thoughts, when I heard the word cancer, was that I knew I was going to lose my hair.
“I worried about what I would look like without my hair and wondered how I could cope with even leaving the house without it.”
Shell quickly started chemotherapy after her diagnosis and before long her hair started to fall out in clumps in the shower.
The 23-year-old described losing her hair in such a fashion as “really traumatic” and she said after being discharged from the hospital she went straight to the hairdressers and had her head shaved.
Shell ended up getting sepsis and a bowel infection as well, and it wasn’t until March 2020, when her cancer relapsed, that she took to TikTok to document her battle with cancer.
“As a film and TV student, it’s in me to want to tell stories – that’s always how I’ve dealt with things – so making videos became my way of coping,” she said.
After posting regularly she was shocked by how her content blew up.
Shell said: “It was a storytime video about being at a Macmillan Cancer Centre. I was sat with my girlfriend when I posted it and we watched it get 100 likes within the first 10 minutes and we were so excited.
“I was just so shocked and it was the first time I saw strangers commenting that they were going through a similar thing to me. I feel like I’ve found my own community through TikTok.”
Shell relapsed again in June 2021, and after further treatment went into remission in October 2021 but relapsed for a third time two months later.
In February 2022, she had a stem cell transplant and has been in remission since then.