N.J. Woman Who Lost Hair To Cancer Says She Wasn't Allowed To Use Old License Photo

| by Karin Sun
Joanne Jodry's old and new driver's license photosJoanne Jodry's old and new driver's license photos

A woman who lost her hair to chemotherapy says she was told that she had to take a new photo for her driver's license.

When Joanne Jodry, 53, went to a Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) office in Freehold, New Jersey, to renew her driver's license on Oct. 1, she asked to use an old photo already in the MVC system that showed her with long, flowing blond hair, the Ashbury Park Press reports.

Neptune City resident Jodry, who had been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in April, lost all of her hair and eyelashes due to chemotherapy treatments. She felt that the cancer had taken a significant toll on her appearance and didn't want "to look sick" in her driver's license photo. 

However, the desk clerk told Jodry that she had to take a new photo due to a state law that required new driver's license pictures to be taken after two renewal cycles. 

Jodry asked to speak with a manager, who insisted that she take a new picture but allowed her to wear her headscarf for the photo. After some tears, she acquiesced and stepped in front of a plain blue backdrop for a new photo. 

Jodry, a professor of psychology at Monmouth University and mother of one, described the MVC staff as bureaucratic and cold.

“I said to the manager, ‘Look, can you give me a break? This has been very difficult’ and I started to cry a little bit," Jodry told the Asbury Park Press. "Just because, for me, it’s not that I’m bald and how I look. It’s how people react to me being bald and how I look."

Jodry added that her 79-year-old mother, Josephine, was able to use her old picture when she renewed her license in Eatentown a few months ago. 

When she was first diagnosed with cancer, Jodry kept her condition secret from all but close friends and family because she didn't want to be defined by her illness. As her appearance deteriorated, however, Jodry could no longer keep the secret. 

“I look sick. Right? And this is a four year driver’s license,” Jodry said. “Every time I have to show ID, I don’t want to look sick. I don’t want to look sick in a year.”

For security purposes, New Jersey law requires drivers to update their license photo every eight years, with few exceptions granted. An MVC spokesperson told Fox 11 that the agency that served Jodry had to comply with state law. 

Sources: Fox 11, Asbury Park Press

Photo Credit: Erik Larsen/Asbury Park Press