Seven years ago today, my family’s life changed forever. Seven years ago today, tears fell from our faces and fear filled our hearts. Seven years ago today, my mother sat in a doctor’s office along side my father hearing the words you never wish to hear. Seven years ago today, my mother became a breast cancer survivor.
In honor of my mother’s seventh year of beating cancer, my twin Lauren, decided months ago that she was going to donate her hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths campaign. This program creates free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer.
You may be thinking, seven years? Why did she choose the seventh year? Because every year is a milestone. Every year and every day is another day we can celebrate my mother’s successful battle with cancer.
Several months ago I asked Lauren if she would be willing to let me share this story with you. Of course she immediately agreed. Here is just another example of how we continue to fight against cancer and other horrifying diseases everyday. Read on for her story…and don’t forget to check out the sugar cookie bars recipe below that I made special for tonight’s event!
“I firmly believe there are many little moments in life that led to the moment when we realize we all go through diversity in life. It wasn’t until my own diagnosis of lupus that in my heart I truly understood that every human deals with something so life altering it can change who you are as a person—especially when you weren’t looking or asking for that change.
While we may go through different experiences of heartache and change, in the end the emotion behind the battle changes your life. It shapes us into who we have become and how we treat others. While I believe I will never understand what someone has truly gone through unless I walk in their shoes, I believe our walk can connect us as human beings because of this commonality—it is important for all of us to remember everyone is going through something.
In October, while reading about what symptoms I may experience with Lupus I couldn’t help but think about how many crappy days I had ahead of me. It wasn’t until I ran across the symptom of hair loss when I truly realized, so far, I had it pretty good for someone with Lupus. While I am losing more hair than average, I am not losing chunks of hair. I also don’t have the visual butterfly rash common for lupus patients. To the world, I don’t look sick—I actually look pretty healthy. In reality, I am sick. I have a disease. But unless I tell someone, they would have no idea. I can hide it.
Unfortunately, there are many people who can’t visually hide the fact they are battling something. The women, and men, who lose their hair to cancer or any other issues practically walk around with a sign on their head saying “Hi, I have cancer”. For some, it’s a proud battle scar because they are kicking cancer in the butt. For others, it’s a reminder of how something has changed their life so dramatically.
With the blessing of not having to show my battle scars of lupus to the world, I have decided to donate one thing I have won in the battle of lupus, my hair. While you may think I chose a random day to donate my hair, March 20, 2014 marks the day my mother is 7 years cancer free.
It’s a day my family celebrates in our personal way, and a day I am sure my mom wakes up proud of her fight. This time around I am surprising my mom by donating 11 inches of my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. This donation doesn’t only represent how I am currently fighting my lupus battle, the battle my mom fought over 7 years ago but the battle that every human is fighting and how we are all in this fight together.
Maybe you aren’t fighting lupus or cancer, but something is shaping you into the strongest person you never thought was possible. I challenge you to stand up and fight your battle. And better yet, team up with someone else fighting their battle because in the end we are all fighting something.
To the woman that receives my hair donation, I hope you fight your battle like my mom and I continue to do. I hope it provides you strength to know you are beautiful and you can fight your fight. While the wig may help you hide your battle scars, I hope it gives you strength to remember we are walking with you. You will get through this.”
Lauren donated her hair with the help of her hairstylist, Katie, from “29 ten salon” in Brookfield, Wisconsin; 29tensalon.com