Growing up "Cancer" was an all too familiar word in our family. My grandfather passed away when I was just two years old from cancer that had ravaged his body. I don't remember much from that time, but I remember family being in and out of the house, him laying in bed, and the one magical time he managed to wake up to eat breakfast with me. It's the sole memory I have of him - laughing and eating and even him teasing my mom a bit. I know my mom adored him, and she was noticeably sad the last days he was alive, and never stopped talking about him throughout my childhood.
Years later, I watched as the same fate betook an aunt. At first she fought, going through rounds of treatment. I was still fairly young with this happened, so I don't remember much other than she had to keep candy with her at all times because treatment caused her to develop diabetes. When I was in my young twenties, after years of her battling cancer on and off, she finally gave in and refused any more treatments or surgeries. I remember visiting her in the hospital, her legs swollen to beyond recognition. I remember her talking with the nurses, some of whom she worked with when she was a still a nurse herself. Discussing pain management, listening to music, while I sat quietly on the couch reading or finding anything that would keep my hands busy.
I remember when I was 17 my uncle being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor - a glioblastoma - that took his life in a matter of months.
I remember my mom sitting me down and telling me she had a rare blood cancer.
I remember donating time during cosmetology school to the Look Good, Feel Better cause that helped women in treatment learn how to wear wigs, scarves, and false eyelashes for some semblance of normal.
I remember the time I shaved my client's hair, as well as his young son's hair because he wanted to support his dad. I remember the time I cried when one of my favorite clients told me her cancer was back. And I remember the phone call from another client's husband telling me his wife had passed, days later coming in for his own haircut and I could barely cut his hair through the tears in my eyes. It was the last time I saw him; I assume the memory was too painful being in the same place his wife used to come for her own hair needs.
It's always been important to me to support cancer research. It's a word that no family should have to hear, and when they do they shouldn't be alone.
By now you've probably seen the social media posts, stories, and emails for BeYOUtiful Day. To me, this isn't just a marketing ploy. This is a cause that I feel so deeply in my heart, and it is a day I've been looking forward to participating in for years.
If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, a cancer survivor, or wish to donate your hair to the BeYOUtiful Foundation, your haircut is absolutely free during BeYOUtiful Day. All others are welcome to participate with $75 donation haircut. In addition to haircuts, I am also donating 10% of all retail sales 8/18-8/22. Sign up here.