Monday, June 1, 2015

A Helping Haircut - Donating to Wigs for Kids

I am so proud of Celia, I am fit to burst.

Let me back up a bit.

Nearly four years ago, my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time.  When I asked her what I could do to help, she asked me to help her pick out a wig.  As a natural redhead who wore her hair short almost my entire life, we joked that if she wanted to look like Rapunzel, here was her chance!  In the end, she decided to keep her "usual" style.  I met her at a local wig shop and helped her choose her "new" hair. We were really surprised how well we were able to match her "normal." In the end her insurance would pay for one prosthesis, and my father decided to purchase two others for her.  We laughed how she now had her simple wig for "everyday hair," a more coiffed 'do for her "formal hair," and a fun, slightly edgy "party hair."   I'm sure for them (on a fixed pension, with lots of extra medical expenses), two extra wigs were a stretch, but my father decided that his bride of nearly 40 years deserved a choice of styles, same as she'd have if her natural hair was still on her head.

Mom and her "Dressy" Hair, 2012
We never really talked about Grammy's wigs, but the kids knew Grammy had been sick and wore a wig because the medicine to make her better make her hair fall out.  A friend of Celia's had waist-length hair cut to a bob, and told everyone she had donated her hair to be made into a wig.  Putting two and two together, Celia said, "Like Grammy's wig?" and I said yes, there were charities that you could donate your hair to, and they would have wigs made for people with cancer.  She decided that was a good idea, and even if she couldn't really help Grammy get better, she could grow out her hair and donate it so others could have wigs. 

About two years ago, we saw a child at the hospital undergoing chemotherapy - or at least, we assumed so because she had no hair and was pushing an IV around the cafeteria.  Celia asked me why the girl had no hair. I reminded her of when Grammy was sick, and had to have really strong medicine, and her hair fell out. I said that girl probably had cancer, too. Celia decided then and there that she wasn't donating her hair just anywhere, it had to go to somewhere that gave wigs to children.  I'll never forget her saying, "Having a tubey is hard, but at least I'm not bald.  People don't see my tube right away, but everybody can she she doesn't have hair.  That's not fair."

As Celia's hair got longer, we started researching charities, and found a few that would provide "prosthetic hair for pediatric patients," but they all made the parents pay for them.  My little spitfire was beyond indignant.  She was flat out hopping mad.  "Sick kids are expensive! I should know!  Parents don't have that kind of money!  They need to pay for medicine, not a wig! That's not right."  Back to the internet we went, and we found Wigs for Kids, a charity dedicated to not only making sure children who lost their hair got a prosthetic, but that they didn't pay for it, either.   We pulled out our ruler, but Celia's hair was still too short.  Instead of the 8" minimum that most places had, Wigs for Kids requests donations be at least 12", so that girls can have long hair wigs. 

She had waited until she had enough left so she didn't have a super-short style once it was cut.  (Her own bit of vanity made her want to make sure she had enough hair left for her sparkly Lilla Rose clips.)   Many "Is it long enough YET??" checks later, we went off to the salon. In the end, Celia had sixteen inches of hair cut off to donate.

Celia loves her new cut, and is planning to keep it for the summer.  She said after school starts, she'll start growing it out again.  I take no credit for any of this, because if you ask me, a kid who spent most of the time between her first and third birthdays in the hospital and more time since than anybody should deserves to keep her hair.  Rarely does she have a "Woe is me!" day, even when her friends are talking about their favorite pizza topping or ice cream flavor, and she's grateful for sugar cubes not making her sick.  I'm so proud of her for not just growing and cutting her hair, but for making sure that it goes to another child.  When I told her this, she just shrugged and said, "Why? Nobody can fix that I can't eat, but I can fix that they don't have hair, so I did."

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