Natalie Cole Speaks on Losing Hair & Hep C

October 5, 2015

Singer Natalie Cole looks lovely in her floral dress and crystal teardrop earrings as she attends the Pamela Roland Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Salon, Bryant Park on September 10, 2008 in New York City.

The 58-year-old star recently revealed she has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. At one point, doctors feared Natalie Cole would commit suicide during her harrowing treatment for the virus.

The draining course of drugs caused her weight to plummet and her hair to fall out, and left Cole desperately miserable.

She tells People magazine, “I was depressed. My doctor warned me I might even think of suicide. I never did. But I understand why people do. It’s a hopeless emotion. Imagine having a 24-hour flu. Now imagine that times 10, every single day for a year or longer.”

Natalie Cole, will cut off all her hair (bald) next week because it’s starting to fall out due to the chemo.

“What I have is treated with chemotherapy. I have chemo every week,” Cole said in an interview shown yesterday on Entertainment Tonight. She told her interviewer, Paula Abdul of American Idol, that the chemotherapy makes her tired and nauseous, and that she’s lost a lot of weight due to her illness, but that she has a “great group of people” rallying around her.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by an infection with a virus. It is a serious disease because the liver is needed to remove toxins that build up in the blood. Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis and destroy the liver. It is a main cause of liver transplants worldwide.

How do you get hepatitis C?

There are several ways to get infected with hepatitis C:

  • Sharing needles for injection drug use. Drug use may be how Cole got hepatitis C. She told Entertainment Tonight that she used heroin in the early 1980s. Cole wrote about her drug use in her 2000 autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder; saying her drug use is long over.
  • Accidentally getting pricked by a needle contaminated by infected blood. This sometimes happens to hospital workers.
  • Being born to a mother with hepatitis C infection.
  • Getting a blood transfusion from someone with hepatitis C infection. Before 1992, blood could not be tested for hepatitis C. Since 1992, all blood donated in the U.S. gets tested for the virus. If you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before June 1992, ask your doctor about being tested for hepatitis C.
  • Some people on kidney dialysis have gotten hepatitis C from contamination of the equipment.
  • It’s possible to get hepatitis C from someone you live with if you share items such as razors or toothbrushes that might have had his or her blood on them.
  • A person can get hepatitis C from getting a tattoo or body piercing with dirty tools.
  • Rarely, a person can get hepatitis C from having unprotected sex with an infected person. This is more likely to happen if the infected person also has another sexually transmitted disease.

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