The New Adventures of New Christine
- Jeopardy! champion and breast cancer survivor, Christine Whelchel, 37, recently appeared on the show without her usual wig.
- Hair loss is a common side effect of cancer treatments like chemotherapy, a treatment for breast cancer.
- Women ages 45 to 54 with an average risk of breast cancer should get mammograms annually.
When host Ken Jennings asked Whelchel about the decision to leave her wig at home for the latest episode, she tells him, “After the… winnings, I decided that I didn’t need to hide behind a wig anymore and I wanted to normalize what cancer recovery looks like.” Jennings replies, “You look fabulous and congratulations on your recovery.”Read More
We are loving Whelchel’s emboldened look and her empowered spirit, which helps serve as a reminder to cancer fighters and survivors everywhere that embracing your look is do-able.
Many people undergo a number of physical changes of cancer treatments, as Whelchel has done. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy commonly lead to hair loss. Newer technologies like cooling caps can mitigate the effects of chemo.
Christine’s Cancer Journey & Treatment
Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings spoke with Christine Whelchel about her cancer journey when she first appeared on the show. She tells him that she was diagnosed in March 2021. “One of the first things I did after being diagnosed was to take the ‘Jeopardy!’ test,” she says with a smile.
The game show fan shares that she even auditioned the night before her surgery. Now Whelchel is “cancer-free,” she shares victoriously. While Whelchel doesn’t state what type of surgery she had, it was likely either a mastectomy or a lumpectomy, which are common surgical treatments for cancer of the breast that involve the full removal of a breast or a lump from the breast, respectively.
A mastectomy is a type of treatment that involves the full or partial surgical removal of one or both breasts. A unilateral mastectomy refers to the removal of one breast. Some people may opt to have reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy. In an earlier interview, Dr. Andrea Pusic, the chief of plastic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, speaks with SurvivorNet about helping women feel good after they’ve been through breast cancer. “So I perform primarily reconstructive surgery on patients who’ve had breast cancer and perform their reconstruction,” she says.
“So effectively when a woman has breast cancer, not all women need to have a mastectomy,” explains Dr. Pusic. “But when the doctor does recommend a mastectomy, then a woman needs to understand her options for breast reconstruction. So the goal of that first meeting is to help her feel comfortable, to get to know our team, for us to get to know her, and then to start to lay out the options in a way that’s easy to understand.”
Screening for Cancer in the Breast
Mammograms are the screening tool for detecting breast cancer and early signs of cancer in the breast tissue. When it comes to breast cancer, mammograms save lives. Early detection is critically important and it can mean broader treatment options as well. Women ages 45 to 54 with an average risk of breast cancer should get mammograms annually.
For women with an elevated risk of breast cancer – this means they either have a history of breast cancer in the family, or they have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation – they should begin screening even earlier, before age 45.
While getting a mammogram, ask about dense breasts, which may obscure cancer. The technician will be able to do determine whether or not you have dense breasts.