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Home » The Vine

The Vine: March 14, 2014

Submitted by on March 14, 2014 – 2:39 PM29 Comments


My mom has cancer. She's doing all right, and responding to the treatment, and feeling okay, and all; this isn't a cancer question.

It's…cancer-adjacent. Like many cancer patients, my mom is undergoing chemotherapy. And like many endurers of chemo, my mom has lost all her hair.

Which brings me to my quest for the readers: hats. My mom's head gets cold, and the skin on her scalp is incredibly sensitive. When she was diagnosed the first time, several years ago, she found a few baseball caps at a little boutique near her chemo doctor. These were specifically designed for chemo patients: no tags, no plastic/velcro size-adjuster thing in the back (covered elastic instead), no holes, and a soft interior. She bought a couple and loved them; one got lost somewhere along the way and the other is in pretty sad shape.

Unfortunately, the company no longer makes them. She has a couple of ski-hat-style ones as well, which she likes, but doesn't love, and she only has two — not enough to make for a good hat rotation. Plus, ski hats don't have nice brims to keep the sun out of her eyes.

Both of us have Googled around, and can't find the style of baseball caps she likes. And a lot of websites selling chemo-specific headwear are either stocked with thin, wispy hats that seem to be made of tissue paper, or they look super-sketchy for a place where I'll ostensibly be using a credit card (or both).

So, Sars and Co. I'm sure some of you are either cancer survivors, or know people who are. Anybody got a lead on cancer-friendly hats? She doesn't want something that screams "I am sick!" — so a lot of the wispy, ski-cap things are out. She can't do things that are crocheted or knitted, because the holes between stitches let cold air in. It can't be of a scratchy material, like wool, or something that feels icky on the skin. It's got to be soft inside — not necessarily a plush kind of deal, but something that feels nice to the touch and won't irritate. A brim would be nice, but not a huge one; with her hair gone, hats tend to sit very low on her head and wide brims end up blocking her vision almost completely.

She needs something that looks like a wearable fashionable hat, since she wears them kind of everywhere. If we could find the baseball caps again, it'd be amazing, but anything matching the above description would make her so happy. Or even if you can just vouch for a good, reputable site where I won't need to worry about identity theft.

I've seen y'all work miracles before, so I know you can find what I'm after.

Even the little things about cancer are bullshit

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  • Sarah says:

    So my first thought was like a fleece baseball cap, but the ones I saw online were kind of ugly. So I googled hats for cancer and this was the first site that came up.

    and this was the second

    There's a pretty wide selection on both these sites, and the first one is possibly affiliated with the American Cancer Society.

  • Dsayko says:

    Fucking cancer. Glad your mom is responding to treatment. I am sending good vibes into the universe for your family.

    There are a few good looking options at TLC Direct (

  • Anne-Cara says:

    Headcovers has a ton of options. Your mom might like one of these baseball-style caps?

  • Shannon says:

    I cannot vouch for their softness need to bare skin but J.Crew is selling adorable, feminine baseball hats here, here, here, here, here and here. Maybe you could add in a simple lining if they aren't comfy enough?

  • Jane says:

    When I was bald from the chemo I bought buffs like they wear on Survivor at and wore them UNDER the hats. I would tie them in the back like a little bun. Those buffs are the greatest thing in the world for a bald head – they are microfiber and dry quickly, they tie easily, you can wear them at night and when you've recovered you can still wear them as headbands or sometimes I wear them as a sporty scarf when I'm wearing a hoodie. I threw out all my other cancer headwear to get rid of the memories, but I saved my buffs.

  • Rachel S says:

    As the previous posters have mentioned, TLC Direct is affiliated with the American Cancer Society and has a variety of hats and wigs for people going through chemo. I have ordered from that site in the past and never had a problem.

    Also, there are a lot of stores on Etsy that specialize in head coverings for people who have lost their hair. Try searching for "chemo hat" or "chemo cap."

    Finally, have you tried asking your mom's nurses or doctors? I know many hospitals have a stockpile of hats that people have bought or made and then donated to the oncology department. Even if your mom doesn't want a hat from the hospital's collection, you might be able to see the brands of hats she does like.

    Best of luck to you and your mom.

  • sam says:

    The first thing I thought of when I read this was my go-to place for ski wear, since I HATE knit/wool type hats for their itchiness – turtle fur.

    It's super soft/warm fleeciness (even the stuff that looks knit/wool is lined with the fleece). A lot may be too casual/sporty for what your mom's looking for, but the "life" category seemed to have some cute styles.

  • M. Nightingale says:

    I made my mom these when she had no hair and they looked stylish. Took ~2 hours for C, her favorite, and my mom got to pick the fabric herself. McCalls is pretty beginner friendly, but if you don't sew, most dry cleaners have a seamstress or tailor affiliate and if they won't make the hat, they might be able to refer you to someone who will.

    I also made some and donated them to the chemo center, where they kept a stash for patients, so I'd second (or third, or fourth, or… who knows by the time this posts) that idea.

    I'd also recommend going to Nordstroms. I was able to call and get my mom an appointment with the consultant in the accessories department. And I told the consultant straight-up that my mom was sensitive about her current baldness and when we got there, the woman who helped us was so kind and so sensitive and she brought my mom soft hat after soft hat and stood between my mom and the rest of the store when my mom tried stuff on. And I think it helped my mom feel better, to have gone shopping and treated special.

    Also, my mom wore glasses and sunglasses, especially with bold frames, and it drew the attention away from her lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. She looked glamorous with the hats and sunglasses, not sick.

    So sorry you're all going through this.

  • attica says:

    My mom liked fleece berets when she was cancer-surgery-bald. Amazon has tons, and some of them flop enough to effect a sun-shielding brim.

    Man, cancer sucks. But hats are awesome. Hugs!

  • Jen S. 2.0 says:

    No good suggestions on a hat, except maybe for finding something close on Etsy and asking the proprietor to customize something.

    But…if you're worried about putting your credit card information into a website, what about buying an Amex or Visa gift card and using that on a site? That way there'd be no way to connect your real credit card number to your purchase.

  • Jobiska says:

    I was also going to mention buffs, since the one I have is soft, light, and warm; although the site mentioned above does not have them, BuffUSA carries buffs with visors, though I haven't tried those in particular:

  • cayenne says:

    If you have an outdoor/adventure outfitters store nearby, they may have some beanie or brimmed styles that have fleece linings. The big one near me has a few from different brands:

    So sorry you & your mum are going through this – I'm sending you guys good vibes, best wishes, and virtual hugs.

  • Sandra says:

    They're knitted, but they're fully — and softly! — lined … I love my Dakine hats.

    Check out their site, but I found them cheaper on Amazon.

    They have several with little bills, too, which may help with the sun in the eyes issue (and are cute).

  • Barb says:

    this is not a baseball cap, but i think you could choose the softest material you can find. I saw them on American Horror Story: Coven, and thought that looked fabulous, almost regal.

    maybe this is a possible approach.

  • Kate says:

    No leads on hats, but if you're buying from a place that looks sketchy, check with your credit card company to see if they have a "disposable number" program – my CC company will give you a one-time use number to use on the internet so even if your card number is stolen, it won't work.

    Here's hoping that your mom continues to do well!

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    When my husband's mom was fighting breast cancer (she's okay, thank you God) she knitted most of her own hats–she's a mad crafter–but I bought her a really nice, light linen scarf, the kind you normally wear around the neck with a summer outfit. It was triangular with two long pieces that could be tied, so it worked for a head wrap and then later as a stylish accessory.

  • Wehaf says:

    You may want to consider children's hats, as well – since without her hair, your mother's head is smaller, they may fit better.

  • Beatrice says:

    These baseball caps have a low profile, so they may fit your mom's head nicely. If you click on one of the cap styles, you'll be taken to a page with front and back views of the cap and visor for that style. They're not lined but they're 100% cotton, and it looks from the photos like the strap at the back is soft.

    I don't know how to make this a link (new here), but you can copy/paste it:

  • Laura says:

    A friend of mine lost all her hair through alopecia and maintains a style blog, EyelineHer, for women without hair; she has some great video tips on how to wear buffs if that's a route your mum might like to go – have a look at it here.

  • Laura says:

    Also check out Suburban Turban, headwear designed especially for women with hair loss (my aforementioned friend raves about them) – they're UK-based but ship worldwide.

  • Lisa M. says:

    A third recommendation for buffs, if you would consider something underneath another hat (or on its own, they have several badass prints). I love mine; it is super soft and washes and dries beautifully. Amazon sells them, and I've seen them at outdoor/running stores.

  • Stephanie says:

    My cousin has alopecia and started/runs Stylish Noggins. I do admit her site is not working for me right now, but she's not at all sketchy! If you or your mom can't navigate that, contacting her directly should work.

  • MeganT says:

    If you'd like, I'd be happy to sew some hats for your mom (at no cost, of course). Sars, please feel free to pass along my email address.
    The little things about cancer are the most bullshit. My mom is a fifteen-year survivor, and I still remember most the little crap, like how she couldn't eat chicken soup after chemo. It was all she wanted, too. Sending out love and positive energy your way.

  • Lee Mickle says:

    Berets worked well for me–I even wore them in bed. Also, a friend knitted me a lovely soft chenille hat.

  • Kate Monster says:

    Letter-writer here. Thanks so much to everyone!! (I realize I'm a little late on the thankery, here. #gradschool)

    My mom has been sifting through the links; I don't know yet what she's lit on. But I really wanted to thank you all so very much for your help and positive thoughts/energy. She's just gotten a clean bill of health–just a couple more rounds of chemo to (according to her) "make sure they've really got it this time"– and she'll be free and clear. Her hair is starting to grow back too, which is awesome.

    I KNEW this was the right set of people to come to!

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