Standing at the top of her stairs, horrified Jade Goody screamed until it started to hurt inside her head.
A large clump of hair had fallen from the side of her scalp on to the carpet. Following surgery to remove her womb and ovaries as well as a rugby ball-sized tumour, she had already been given intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
And doctors had warned her she had only a 40 per cent chance of survival. The Big Brother star, speaking exclusively to the Mirror, said: “I’m realistic. I know I might not have that long left.”
But despite all that, losing her hair was still the most shocking moment yet in her battle with cervical cancer. She said: “You’d think I would have been prepared for it, wouldn’t you? But somehow it just made everything feel so real.
“I stood there screaming until my mum came running. When she saw the hair on the floor, she gave me a cuddle and started rubbing my head the way she did when I was a baby.
“All of a sudden handfuls more hair was peeling off in her hands. I was wailing and screaming. It was awful.”
The following day more clumps of hair fell out. By the third day it had almost disappeared.
With incredible precision, doctors had told Jade that by January 8 she would be bald.
She said: “And they were right. Within three days it had all gone except for a couple of spiky strands. I was having to pick it off the pillowcase and the sofas. I was moulting more than my dog.
“I didn’t keep a single strand as a memento, I just got my mum to chuck it in the bin.
“Even men whose hair starts to recede admit it affects their self-confidence. But for a woman, hair is what makes them feminine, it is very hard to come to terms with it.”
For a few days Jade was able to hide her hair loss from sons Bobby, five and Freddie, four.
But when she rushed downstairs in a hurry one morning without a headscarf on, they saw.
She said: “When Bobby saw me he said ‘What’s happened mum?’ He looked so worried and started crying. Then he was saying sorry for upsetting me. It was devastating but I waited until he wasn’t around and then I broke down myself.”
Since then, Jade’s hardest task has been to visit boyfriend Jack Tweed in jail. He is serving 18 months for assaulting a man with a golf club.
She said: “I wore my headscarf then just lifted it a bit for him to see it had all gone.
“No matter what kind of bloke you are with, every woman wants their man to fancy them. And of course, that worries me. I think, ‘There’s no way he’s going to fancy me like this, no way! I’ve got a bald head, a massive great scar down my tummy and I’m throwing up all the time!’”
Despite her initial horror, Jade is now dealing with hair loss using the same humour that has kept her going throughout her ordeal.
She joked: “Fortunately my mum pushed me out well when I was born. No forceps or any other contraptions so I’ve got no lumps and bumps on my head. But I do look a bit like a boiled egg because I have a small head and small ears.”
On Saturday Jade held a special lunch party to show her closest mates what she described as her “new plucked chicken look”.
She said: “I sent them all a picture of me bald the other day and said, ‘Take a look at this.’ The phone kept ringing with all my mates blubbing.
“I was like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and they were saying, ‘But we are really upset, these things really affect us.’ I was saying, ‘Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise.’ Because I’m all right about my hair now. There are lots of people going through far worse things right now than losing their hair.”
Despite that, she doesn’t feel quite ready to show her baldness to the world. Jade said: “I know there will come a time when I have to reveal what I look like without a headscarf but I do worry people will laugh at me. Some people think I’ve even made up the whole cancer thing for publicity. So I want to be feeling OK enough about it to be making the jokes about baldness before they do.”
Jade said she has not until now admitted just how seriously ill she is. She added: “I haven’t wanted to tell people how bad I am.
“I didn’t want to worry my family with all the ins and outs. My nan and grandad are really old now and I don’t want them to waste the last years of their lives worrying about me. But to be honest, I have been – and still am – very poorly.”
Jade claimed she has not lost weight but her face looks drawn and there are dark circles under her eyes. A bruise on her chest shows where her last chemotherapy drugs were pumped in.
She was appearing on Indian Big Brother last summer when she was called to the diary room and told she had cervical cancer and must return home immediately.
If she had not had an immediate radical hysterectomy she would have been dead within three months. After surgery, doctors gave Jade the shock news she only had a 40 per cent chance of survival, not the 50 per cent previously reported. That statistic remains unchanged and probably will do for at least a year. She said: “Sometimes I think ‘I wonder how much time I’ve really got?’ But right now there is no answer to that.” Another new concern for Jade is that her sight is deteriorating.
She said: “When I look at my computer screen now it is really blurry so doctors are going to test me.
“So I’ll have a bald head and probably need glasses like Olive from On The Buses. I’ll be looking great!”
Jade has also been told that her teeth and gums are likely to suffer disease and decay as a side effect of chemotherapy.
On Friday Jade needed a six hour blood transfusion as her own blood count had dropped low as a side effect of the chemo. The previous day she had six hours of the treatment– her second batch of a new highly intensive monthly course that will continue for most of this year.
When its effects kick in she feels too sick to even speak, vomits frequently and suffers agonising aches and pains in her joints.
And because of her hysterectomy, Jade is now also going through the menopause.
She said: “I have to take hormone replacement tablets every day which helps. But my periods have stopped, I get hot flushes, I wake in the middle of the night with the bed sheets soaked in sweat and I have mood swings. I feel like a 50 year old woman trapped in a 27-year-old’s body.’
The chemotherapy also makes her incredibly tired. Even walking upstairs is a struggle.
Jade added: “Obviously I have down times when I cry and cry and feel very scared about the future. But I’ve never been suicidal. What would be the point of killing myself? I’ve only got 40 per cent chance of living anyway!
“I’ve been hanging on to life with my fingernails but I will not let go. Throughout my life I have had to cope with some really bad stuff but I have always turned out stronger than the thing trying to beat me. And with cancer it will be the same. I will not let it beat me.”