“I am my sister’s keeper,” says 20 year old Samoan Joella Lee-lo in the instagram post as she shaves her head with her identical twin sister, Joanna, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
On April 6th my beautiful twin sister Joanna was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia cancer. As devastating the news was, my sister had to start her treatments straight away but because of lockdown, she had to do it all alone in hospital without her family there to hold her hand and wipe her tears when she needed it. The only contact we had with her was through video calls and messages. It was a hard time for my family and I but especially for my sister. But through it all, she was brave and so strong and she knew God and Grandpa was there with her every step of the way. She had the support of our entire family too who prayed for her day and night, especially our Nana Tinei Fia Lee-lo. Today she decided to show just how brave and strong she was by shaving her head so treatments could be easier. I couldn’t let her go through with it alone so I decided we’ll do it together just like everything else we’ve done together in this life. I love you so much my beautiful sister. You are a fighter and we’ll fight this battle together❤️????????
Posted by Joella Lee-Lo on Saturday, May 16, 2020
The sisters live in New Zealand, where Joanna was seeking chemotherapy treatment alone in the hospital since COVID-19 restrictions did not allow for visitors. Joella was only able to interact with her sister via video calls or messages, making Joanna’s treatment particularly difficult, without her family by her side.
Joanna decided to shave her head, as hair loss is a side effect of chemotherapy so many cancer patients receiving chemotherapy opt to shave their heads prior to absolute hair loss. Joella would not allow Joanna to go through this alone so they shaved their heads together, as documented in Joella’s moving facebook post above. The roughly three minute long video depicts how affected Joanna and her family members are when shaving her hair as several people help shave Joanna and Joella. In the facebook post, which was shared 157,000 times, Joella speaks to her sister’s bravery through it all, knowing that God and their grandpa are with her every step of the way.
Hair loss During Chemotherapy Treatment
Hair loss is a difficult but unfortunately common side effect of chemotherapy. However, this hair loss is temporary. The hair loss begins three to four weeks after chemotherapy treatment starts and persists during the course of treatment. Hair regrowth begins around four to six weeks after treatment completion. Patients may even experience some changes to hair color and texture when it begins growing back.
Hair loss can be a strenuous matter to deal with alone, especially during COVID-19 when cancer patients are usually getting treatment alone, but for patients like Joanna that have the support of their family, it makes a world of difference.