Why These Patients Are Decorating Their Eyebrows for Holidays

Deck the brows!

— -- As impossible as it seems, some women with cancer are turning chemotherapy into a festive occasion on social media.

The uplifting hashtag, #christmaschemobrow, began on the Younger Breast Cancer Network Facebook page earlier this week. The British cancer support group started posting pictures of cancer patients with their disappearing eyebrows decorated with holiday themes.

Now women from all over the world are tweeting and posting brows decked with boughs of holly, wreathed in tinsel and festooned with creative images of sleighs, candy canes and giftwrap. Loved ones are getting into the act, too, covering their eyebrows in the holiday spirit to show their support.

Victoria Yates, a British lawyer and mom of two, began the network in 2010 after surviving breast cancer herself at the age of 36. She says the idea for chemo brown came about after some of the group’s 1,300 members started posting pictures of extreme brow drawing a few months ago. It proved so popular they decided to give it a Christmas theme.

“It was a real giggle and lifted our spirits at what is a tricky time for lots of our members,” Yates said. “… it was so funny and heartwarming that we decided to share it outside of our group too.”

Yates said women who go through treatment can often feel isolated and low, so finding other young women in the same boat and sharing a laugh can be a tremendous help. Grappling with the loss of eyebrows can be a surprisingly tough aspect of chemo as well, she added.

“Losing eyebrows and lashes is worse than the hair on your head for lots of our members so this was just acknowledging it and using it to make us smile,” she said.