success stories

Posted February 7, 2003

Regina Dominican Seniors Give Locks with Love

(Editors: Please credit Crown and the article's author, Anna Wegerson.)

The following article, written by senior Anna Wegerson (Chicago-Rogers Park), was printed in the December 20, 2002 issue of Crown, Regina Dominican High School monthly news magazine. The adviser of Crown is Dr. Kathleen Burke.

Over a dozen Regina Dominican High School seniors are cutting their curls to participate in Locks of Love. This non-profit organization creates hairpieces for patients who suffer from treatments that cause hair loss.

Locks of Love receives donations of hair 10 inches or longer to make wigs for financially underprivileged children and teens, ages 18 and under. So far, Reginites have donated a total of 49 inches of hair.

A group of us were thinking about it, said Jill Caronia. Then once one person said she was going to do it, we were all able to make that same commitment. We realized how many people could be involved in the cause, Caronia said.

The inspiration for many Reginites is classmate Carolyn Shepard. Diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, she has undergone chemotherapy treatments. She marked her first year of survival on September 28. Before losing her hair, Shepard was the first person to originally plan on growing out her hair to donate to Locks of Love. I'm growing it out again for it, but it's going to take awhile, said Shepard. Kieran Welsh-Phillips. She made the decision to cut her hair in honor of Shepard's triumph over cancer.

By donating my hair I felt that I personally made a difference in helping those who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, she said. I was physically able to give them a part of myself, said Welsh-Phillips. When I held the braid of my cut hair in my hand, I actually felt like I was looking at an amputated body part.

After seeing what Carrie went through I just didn't want another person to have to go through that, said Caronia. Even though I'm cutting my hair for someone I don't know, I'm really cutting it for Carrie.

Welsh-Phillips, who donated a total of 14 inches of hair to Locks of Love, was the first to have her hair cut on September 28, Shepard's diagnosis anniversary. Caronia followed, donating 10 inches October 19. Brittany Lawson also became caught up in the cause when she donated 15 inches November 13. Amanda Zorn donated 10 inches December 8.

Hair is something we take for granted, said Lawson.

But for cancer patients, every little detail counts. It's expensive to get a wig, and donating hair really helps out. It's just hair. It's going to grow back. But these people don't have a choice, she said.

Donating your hair means so much more than giving any amount of money, said Shepard.

Your hair is innately yours, and to grow it out and donate it is something special. Welsh-Phillips, Zorn, Caronia and Lawson are still adjusting to their new, shorter styles.

Any time I look at myself I feel like I'm wearing a wig, said Welsh-Phillips. It does't feel real. I'm still getting used to it. But now I can have a lot more fun with short hair, like dyeing it blue or shaping it with hair cement. I can't get my hair up in a ponytail any more, said Zorn. It's just too short.

Caronia said she likes having shorter hair. She has been told it makes her look older. Lawson, who didn't tell her family beforehand that she was cutting her hair, said they loved her surprising new style. All girls said the shorter cut makes hair care much less time consuming. Welsh-Phillips said she can now blow-dry her hair in four minutes, as opposed to the 24 minutes it took her when her hair was longer. Caronia and Lawson both said the entire experience has been rewarding.

At first I really didn't feel like I'd done something, said Caronia. But when I think about it, it's cool to think that another person will have my hair. As much as I love my hair, someone else will love it just as much, if not more, said Lawson.

If someone chooses to donate their hair, that's great, Shepard said. It's truly a gift from the heart.

More information about Locks of Love is online at http://www.locksoflove.org/