Mama June's Daughter's Battle With Stage 4 Cancer
- TLC star June “Mama June” Shannon’s daughter Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell has been battling rare stage 4 adrenal carcinoma and recently underwent a few rounds of chemotherapy.
- Now, after experiencing hair loss amid cancer treatment, Cardwell’s hair appears to be growing back in one of her recent TikTok videos featuring the 29-year-old doing a snack challenge.
- Losing hair or thinning hair while undergoing chemotherapy is a common side effect. And while hair loss is not a medically significant or dangerous side effect of chemotherapy, for many women it can be a blow to their self-esteem. We’re happy to see Cardwell, seemingly coping well with her hair loss and how she’s going with the flow as it slowly grows back.
- Adrenal carcinoma, also known as Adrenocortical carcinoma, is described by the National Cancer Institute as “a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the outer layer of the adrenal gland.”
- Treatment for adrenocortical carcinoma, which varies from patient to patient, includes: Surgery, Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy.
Cardwell, who was reportedly diagnosed with stage 4 adrenal carcinoma in January and has undergone a few rounds of chemotherapy since, took to her TikTok page this week to do a snack challenge and seemingly show her fans how well she’s doing amid her journey with cancer.
@annamariecardwe39 Read More@Bussin Snacks please go check out them out they got some many different thing from so many countries cant wait for my next box😁😁😁😁😜😜 ♬ original sound – annamariecardwe39
She captioned her post, promoting an exotic snacks and drinks delivery service, “@Bussin Snacks please go check out them out they got some many different thing from so many countries cant wait for my next box.”
Cardwell, a mom of two, appeared to be in good spirits and excited to do the snack challenge with her boyfriend Eldridge Toney.
In the footage, Cardwell, who is seen with short hair and glasses, tells her followers, “Alright guys, so I just got a package in the mail today from Bussin Snacks.
“I know I’ve been gone for a month… Ignore the hair, okay? I don’t know what it’t doing. So just go with the flow.”
She then proceeded to try Lay’s fried chicken chips from Taiwan, Cadbury Milk Chocolate Sticky Puds from the U.K., and strawberry Coca-Cola from China.
We’re happy to see Cardwell doing well after cancer treatment, especially as it’s been months after she’s completed her third round of chemo.
Back on May 10, Cardwell took to Instagram to share a photo of herself alongside her boyfriend, to inform her fans chemo was “working.”
She captioned the post, “Well going on to round 3 of chemo.this yesterday it was pretty good day but did get a little and Cracker Barrel was good going down but not up but over all it’s going good and chemo is working we come to find so things are looking good.”
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Two months later, her mom told Entertainment Tonight, that Cardwell has already had four cancer treatments.
Mama June explained, “But she will not have any more chemo treatments. The next course, if she chooses to, if that time comes, will be immune therapy or clinical trials.
“And she just wants to see how it’s gonna go, and we don’t know what to expect because the cancer is very aggressive and it grew from nothing to something huge on the left side of her body really fast.”
Her mom also told the entertainment news outlet that Cardwell “pretty good” at handling her cancer battle.
“She can still go to the grocery store, she can drive herself, she’s still able to take the kids to and from places. A lot of people thought that it was gonna make her sick and stuff like that, [but] she’s able to bounce back pretty quick,” her sister Pumpkin said.
Although it’s unclear what Cardwell is going through now as far as treatment, we do know she has completed chemotherapy and was preparing earlier this summer for immunotherapy, a form of treatment which involves using the body’s own immune system to target cancer cells.
Cardwell was diagnosed back in January after experiencing stomach pain, family sources revealed to TMZ. Details on Cardwell’s specific type of adrenal carcinoma cancer she is battling have remained private.
Cardwell’s family took to fame when Mama June and her sister Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson appeared on the TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras” back in 2011.
Chickadee not only has her mom by her side throughout her cancer journey, but also her sisters/reality television co-stars, 17-year-old Alana, 23-year-old Lauryn “Pumpkin” Efird, and 26-year-old Jessica “Chubbs” Shannon.
What Is Adrenal Carcinoma?
Adrenal carcinoma, also known as Adrenocortical carcinoma, is described by the National Cancer Institute as “a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the outer layer of the adrenal gland.”
Some genetic conditions can increase a person’s risk of adrenocortical carcinoma and symptoms of the disease include pain in the abdomen or back, a lump in the abdomen, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, the institute explains. Additionally, the disease is diagnosed through imaging studies and tests to examine the urine and blood.
“Different types of treatments are available for patients with adrenocortical carcinoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer,” the NCI explains.
“When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.”
The following types of treatment may be used for patients with adrenocortical carcinoma, and treatment varies from patient to patient: Surgery, Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy.
New types of treatment, which are undergoing clinical trial testing, include: Immunotherapy and Targeted therapy.
Hair Loss Amid Cancer
Losing hair or thinning hair while undergoing chemotherapy is a common side effect. And while hair loss is not a medically significant or dangerous side effect of chemotherapy, for many women it can be a blow to their self-esteem. We’re happy to see Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell, seemingly coping well with her hair loss and how she’s going with the flow as it slowly grows back.
“It can have implications about how they feel about themselves,” says Dr. Renata Urban, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.
As for Salt Lake City resident Stephanie Hess, she already knew what to expect after getting diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She had seen her mother and some friends go through it and was devastated over the thought of losing her hair.
“Because my mom had passed away from cancer, I knew what it felt like.The thought of losing your hair, that’s the ultimate indicator of being a cancer patient,” she told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview. “I didn’t want to be bald.”
Hair loss during treatment occurs due to the drugs targeting quickly dividing cells throughout the body. Both cancer cells and hair cells fall into this category. Women may also lose their eyebrows and eyelashes, too. All of this hair loss can have a big effect on your self-esteem.
For most cancer patients, the hair will start growing back shortly after treatment, and in the meantime, some cancer patients choose to embrace their new look.
While hair loss can be very difficult to deal with, many women eventually consider it an empowering part of their cancer fight. Thinking of hair loss as a temporary setback rather than a permanent problem can help some women, and men, make peace with it.
How To Cope
It’s completely normal to feel upset about losing your hair, even when you know that your hair will usually grow back after treatment stops. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to make the experience less distressing.
Try a Cooling Cap to Minimize Hair Thinning
One potential option is something called cryotherapy, “just a fancy way for saying cold therapy,” says Dr. Urban.
What that means is wearing what are called cold caps or special cooling caps before, during, and after each chemotherapy treatment. The caps, which are tight fitting and strap-on helmet-style, are filled with a gel coolant that’s chilled to between -15 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Essentially the caps “cause vasoconstriction, or a narrowing of the blood vessels bringing blood to the scalp,” Dr. Urban explains. By constricting the blood flow to the scalp, the caps limit the amount of circulating chemotherapy that reaches the hair follicles, protecting them from some of the chemo’s damaging effects. The cold also decreases the activity of the hair follicles, which slows down cell division and makes the follicles less affected by the chemotherapy medicine.
“This has been shown to reduce hair loss by 50 percent,” Dr. Urban says. “I do try to let patients know it’s not a 100 percent prevention strategy, and it’s not been studied in all hair types, but it is at least an available strategy for patients to try.”
Keep in mind, though, that it does take commitment to tolerate the cold. Some women find the caps give them a headache. And they can make you really chilled, so if you want to tough it out, dress warmly and bring blankets.
Choose a Wig or Other Head Covering
Some women choose to cut their hair very short or even shave their head before their hair starts falling out, and then buy a wig or other type of head covering.
If you’re thinking about buying a wig, consider buying it before your treatment starts, or soon after, Cancer.org suggests asking if the wig can be adjusted as you might need a smaller size as you lose hair. To match your hair color, they recommend cutting a swatch from the top front of your head, where your hair is lightest, or try a completely new hairstyle or color.
Wigs and other scalp coverings may be partially or fully covered by your health insurance. If so, make sure the prescription says “cranial prosthesis.” (Don’t use the word wig) Someone on your cancer care team can likely recommend wig shops in your area.
Hair Loss Is Temporary
Losing your hair can feel overwhelming in the moment. Experts tell SurvivorNet that being aware of the timing can help you better cope. Hair loss typically begins about three to four weeks after you begin chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, and will continue throughout treatment. Most women can expect regrowth around four to six weeks after they complete treatment, though you may see some changes to color and texture.
But it’s important to remember that your hair will grow back after chemotherapy ends.
Dr. Samantha Boardman’s Advice
“For cancer patients losing one’s hair can be unbelievably stressful. To start with, the dread of losing one’s hair can lead to some sleepless nights and feelings of anxiety,” Dr. Samantha Boardman, a New York-based psychiatrist and author, told SurvivorNet.
To cope, Dr. Boardman suggested reaching out to other survivors who have been through a similar situation, if you feel comfortable doing so.
“Talk to people who have been through it, get their advice, voice your concerns to your caregiver and see what they can do,” Dr. Boardman added. She stressed that anxiety over hair loss doesn’t just affect women, as men going through cancer often struggle with it as well.
For those who can’t stand the idea of being seen without their hair, there are plenty of options available, such as wigs, head wraps, and hats. Some survivors have even created products specifically for people with cancer so they can feel comfortable in their own skin.
Dr. Boardman also noted that some people may not feel comfortable talking about hair loss, and that’s OK, too.
“To encourage them to bring that up, to encourage them to talk about it, I think can be very helpful,” she said. “But also, for patients, it might be something that they don’t talk about. [And they should] feel good and strong about saying, “This is something that I don;t feel like discussing right now, and I’ll let you know when I do.'”
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you’re in the midst of a cancer battle and experiencing hair loss, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor:
- Are there any treatments to help manage or minimize my hair loss?
- What are scalp-cooling devices and how do they work?
- Do you recommend scalp-cooling devices?
- What other options are available to help me cope with hair loss?
- Can you recommend a wig maker?
- I’m struggling mentally with my hair loss, can you recommend a therapist to talk to?
- How can I find a local support group with people going through similar things?
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff