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Beautiful Lengths

My cousin Nicki had 8” of her hair cut this week. She donated the hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. This is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society to make real-hair wigs for women with cancer.

Nicki decided about 6 months ago to grow her hair out and donate it for a wig. She was visiting me in January before I began chemo and she took me wig shopping. I had not lost my hair yet, but I knew I had about a month before it would fall out. 

Our wig shopping excursion was tearful and sorrowful. I mostly cried at the thought of having to wear a wig. The salon owner tried to get me to try on a turban, but I refused. That reminded me too much of cancer. I ended up buying a wig, but I bought it reluctantly. 

Nicki knew how painful losing my hair was going to be. That is what inspired her to grow her hair out and donate it. She told me that just getting the 8 inches cut off was scary. She doesn’t like to wear her hair short so this is a sacrifice for her. She described the hair cut as a “scalping” even though it left her with shoulder-length hair. 

Nicki’s donation of hair takes on a deeper meaning for me than just creating a wig for another woman. The whole process of waiting patiently for her hair to grow and then cutting it was Nicki’s expression of love for me. I admire that.

I’ve talked with women going through cancer and losing their hair seems worse than losing their life! I have to agree, it was probably the most traumatic thing I’ve done in my life. My hair has now grown back and looking back I remember all those emotions I had. I remember the February night I shaved my head and I thought my world was ending. It grew back by July, but it used to be blond, long and straight! It’s now dark, curly and short. 

Through it all, I am glad for the experience. How many women do you know who can say they’ve been bald? It gave me some character!