Slick Woods on chemotherapy: 'Stop treating me like a victim'

By Michael Baggs
Newsbeat reporter

Image source, Getty Images

Model Slick Woods has revealed she is undergoing chemotherapy, but says she doesn't wanted to be treated like a "victim".

The model shared the news on her Instagram with a photo of herself partying with friends, but hasn't revealed what type of cancer she has.

"How I feel about chemotherapy, shout out to everyone that gotta go through it," wrote the 23-year-old.

Slick, known for her shaved head, added the hashtag "#atleastimalreadybald."

She followed it up with two more posts asking people not to treat her like a victim.

Fans, including Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P Henson, posted messages of support on her posts.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a form of treatment for cancer, which involves a patient taking drugs to kill cancer cells in the body.

But as well as killing cancer cells, it can also harm healthy cells in the body and leave the patient with unpleasant side effects.

These can include hair loss, which Slick referred to in her Instagram post, but also sickness and vomiting, skin problems, a sore mouth and increased risk of infection - among others.

Chemotherapy can be 'very isolating'

One person who knows what those side effects are like is social media influencer Olivia Smith - who had six months of chemotherapy in 2018 for Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer which affects glands across the body.

"It's very isolating, especially when you are a young adult," Olivia, who's also 23, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"Cancer is more common in older people, so in treatment rooms you can be surrounded by people who are older."

Image source, Olivia Smith
Image caption,
Olivia in 2018 (left) and in 2019 (right). She is now in remission from cancer

Olivia says she has had mental side effects too, such as anxiety over whether her cancer will return and whether the chemotherapy got rid of it in full.

She's has been in remission for over a year but, like Slick, she also shared her experience with cancer online - posting about her journey on Instagram and writing a blog.

She also started an Instagram account called Cancer Chicks, an online support group for young women with cancer.

"Before I was diagnosed, I thought it was only for old people," she says.

"I wanted to show how it can happen to anyone and you don't become defined by the disease. You can still be into fashion and everything else you were into before."

And like Slick, Olivia didn't want anyone to see her as a victim either.

"I didn't share my story to pull on anyone's heartstrings, I did it to kind of open people's eyes," she says.

"I definitely didn't want people to feel sorry for me."

'Sharing online isn't for everyone'

Cancer charity Clic Sargent says while it can be important for people with cancer to see others in the same position, not everyone is comfortable sharing their experiences on social media.

"We've seen more and more that people are sharing their journey online and tell the world how they feel," says a spokesperson in a statement to Newsbeat.

"Sharing online isn't for everyone and social media isn't always positive, but seeing other people your age going through something similar and having a sense of community can help young people to feel less isolated."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Slick says her labour started during Rihanna's New York Fashion Week show in 2018

In 2018, Slick made headlines when she told her followers she was in labour when she walked the runway for Rihanna's underwear brand, Savage x Fenty, at New York Fashion Week in 2018.

She'd appeared on the catwalk heavily pregnant at the start of a 14-hour labour.

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