Wigs for Kids with Cancer
Hair can silently mark the passing of time. The growth happens with slow, steady faithfulness completely indiscernible from day-to-day. But over time growth becomes evident.
Three years ago, almost to the day, Julia and her friend, Anna, donated their hair to Wigs for Kids. The cancer I was battling left me bald and bewildered. But as we walked through surgeries, chemo, and radiation treatments, an unexpected outcome took place in my daughter’s heart. Through the hard times, the tears, the questions with no answers, God started growing in Julia a heart to help and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
The food allergies Julia deals with daily has matured her; she has learned to talk with adults, parents, and waiters answering questions about what she can and cannot have. When we went on a summer mission trip to Japan one of the phrases she learned to say in Japanese was, “I am allergic to milk, peanuts and eggs.” At every birthday party she either quietly abstains from the pizza and birthday cake or brings along her own little treat. A small handful of moms always go the extra mile to make sure the food they serve is “Julia friendly.” (Thanks, Simone, Abby, Cari, Stacia :)). Feeling uncomfortable, misunderstood or left out are familiar emotions for my daughter. These struggles have resulted in a depth of character not often seen in ten-year olds.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when she learned her hair could help another kid battling cancer, she joyfully donated. I think she understood on a deep level, both of knowing how it feels for a kid to struggle with feeling uncomfortable, misunderstood and left out and also from the first hand experience of having a bald mommy. For the next three years following the initial cut she allowed her thick, naturally highlighted, beautiful, beautiful hair to silently grow.
Three years and nearly 14 inches later, Julia sat extra still as Kim cut her hair. My heart filled with gratitude (and my eyes were a bit misty) seeing her sitting in the chair, feet dangling. My own hair, now past shoulder length, covered the story of cancer that had marked our lives. Her long hair represented three long years of return to our new normal. Strangers came up to Julia when they learned what she was doing to let her know they were proud of her decision. In the end Julia, full of joy, collected her offering to help a kid going through a hard time similar to the hard time we went through.
In her own words she wrote on the donation form:
“My mom had cancer and lost all of her hair and I realized I can help people by donating my hair.”
I hate cancer. I hate how this disease takes lives. I hate the pain my family and friends walk through when they lose a loved one to cancer. I will never not hate cancer.
But somehow battling cancer expanded our hearts and opened up our world to others. Julia is a shining example to me of beauty grown out of hardship. I am proud of her and the growth I see in her life.
If you like, feel free to leave a message for Julia in the comment section and I’ll be sure she reads it.