MTV star documents dramatic effect of chemotherapy

Diem Brown wanted to created a video to help future cancer patients understand what will happen to them when they undergo treatment.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Published Oct 19, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 9:04 am CDT

MTV reality star Diem Brown is giving a raw and personal look at a world that often kept behind closed doors: the physical and emotional turmoil during chemotherapy treatment.

Brown, who starred on Real World/Road Rules Challenge, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time at age 30. This time around, however, she wanted to try something a little different.

When Brown was originally diagnosed at age 23, she tried to find a video of someone in her situation while she went through treatment, but she only found dramatic, reactionary posts or celebrities who shaved their head for a movie or due to a breakdown.

It wasn’t until she found musician Melissa Etheridge’s story that she even came close to finding someone with her situation.

“I remember studying [Etheridge’s] picture on the Internet, amazed and proud she didn’t throw on a wig … she was bald, beautiful and strong!” Brown wrote in a blog post for People. “She had no fear, and her picture made me want to give early 20-somethings another image they could Google if facing cancer.”

Starting at around two and a half weeks after her carbo/taxol chemotherapy infusion treatment, Brown recorded herself brushing her hair, which she did bi-nightly.

“You go through waves where sometimes you’re fine and then sometimes you get upset because it’s frustrating,” Brown said. “It’s not the freaking hair so much as it’s more and more realization that you’re sick.”

In the video, Brown remains calm as her hair falls out before her eyes, but she breaks down during one brushing ritual as a large clump of her dirty-blond hair falls out with a single brush.

She hopes that her video will help future cancer patients understand what will happen to them when they undergo treatment.

“I just wanted to make my Google search contribution, so that future patients Googling hair loss during chemo can see exactly what happens when you don’t shave it off,” Brown wrote.

Photo via Diem Brown/YouTube

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*First Published: Oct 19, 2012, 8:22 pm CDT