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'Jeopardy!' contestant removes wig, embraces her look to normalize cancer recovery

Whelchel had been diagnosed with breast cancer more than a year ago and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

'Jeopardy!' contestant removes wig, embraces her look to normalize cancer recovery
Image source: Jeopardy!/ABC

"Jeopardy!" contestant Christine Whelchel is winning hearts and plaudits for embracing her new look after initially appearing with a wig on the show. Whelchel, who had undergone chemotherapy and lost her hair as a result of the treatment, came on the show without a wig and said she wants to normalize what cancer recovery looks like. Hair loss or alopecia is one of the common side effects of chemotherapy and for many, this can mean a change in appearance. For some, it can mean a loss of identity. The piano teacher and church organist from Spring Hill, Tennessee, had first appeared on Monday's episode with a wig. She is now a four-day "Jeopardy!" champion, having already won $73,602, reported Good Morning America.



She sported a new look when came on the show again, prompting host Ken Jennings to enquire about her thoughts behind changing her look. "If you watched last week, you might notice that Christine looks a little different today. Tell us about your look," said Jennings, and Whelchel, who wasn't donning a wig, replied, "After the winnings, I decided that I didn't need to hide behind the wig anymore and I wanted to normalize what cancer recovery looks like." The crowd broke into applause and Jennings said, "Well, you look fabulous," before congratulating Whelchel on her recovery.



Last week, Whelchel explained that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer over a year ago. Not long after learning about her diagnosis, she decided to try her luck and take the "Jeopardy!" test. Whelchel has recovered and is currently cancer-free. The short clip posted by Jeopardy went viral on Twitter garnering more than 153k views and 7k likes. Twitter users lauded her for embracing her look. "Rock on, girl. Wigs are hot and itchy. Cancer takes so much from us, don’t let it take your self-esteem, too. Rock that short hair and funky glasses and big earrings! Rock on, Christine!" wrote one user. Another user commented, "Yay Christine! You look healthy and gorgeous and, of course, you are super smart. I have lost my hair twice due to cancer "experience" and I commend your grace and courage. Congrats on your win tonight too!!"



Many shared their own images of embracing their hair loss. Someone who personally knew her commented as well. "She also a really generous trivia teammate as I've been blessed to find out a few times. Great to see her kicking ass on Jeopardy!" they wrote. Another friend commented, "Thank you #jeopardy fans for your nice comments about my friend Christine. She was worried about how tough social media can be, so seeing so much support is great and much needed during this stressful time for everyone." Robin Roberts, an anchor on "Good Morning America" discussed Whelchel's choice and added that in some cases, cancer patients wear a wig "to put others at ease." She lauded Whelchel as well. "[Whelchel] showed a lot of strength, a lot of courage. And I'm telling you, people were watching. It makes such a big, big difference," said Roberts, who's a cancer survivor herself.



There have been instances of loved ones shaving their own head to show their support to those undergoing chemotherapy and losing their hair. As we reported, Tycho was heartbroken to learn his mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When his mother decided to shave her head in anticipation of the hair loss, she designated her son, Tycho, to shave her head and he shaved his own as well. He posted the video on Instagram and wrote, "My Mom had to shave her head because of chemotherapy but I didn't want her to feel alone. Zero regrets. I love you."

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