By nature, I am a charitable person and I am always trying to help others in need. Whether it’s family, co-workers, or strangers – if someone needs a helping hand, I do my best to be there for them — and I encourage my children to do the same.
Over the years, our family has worked with many charities and we love organizations that involve the whole family. My children regularly clean out their closets and donate their gently used clothing and toys to Big Brothers Big Sisters. They’ve helped me organize a shoe drive for Soles 4 Souls and purchase food for our local food pantries. They’ve even helped me make up raffle baskets for organizations supporting children’s mental health rights in NYS.
My children know that I strongly believe in the importance of being a good person, which is why we work on so many charitable deeds together – as a family. I believe that if they see my husband and I helping others in need, it will become a part of their inner-being too. With all of my lofty do-gooding dreams, my husband often says that I should have been born a philanthropist – because with so much money, I could do so much more for the world that we live in. I tend to agree with him, but I also wanted to show our children that making the world a better, kinder, more beautiful place to live in doesn’t always require money.
So, instead of showing my children how several people can make a difference, I wanted to show them that even one person could make a difference in the life of another. I wanted to show my kids that sometimes, money has nothing to do with it all — sometimes, all it takes is patience and determination to do something good.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do, but then I started hearing about all of these Moms that I knew that were battling breast cancer — and it rattled me. I couldn’t imagine how scared they must be. I couldn’t imagine what they were thinking. I couldn’t imagine how their families felt. To be honest, I just couldn’t imagine the situation at all, but I knew that I wanted to help. I just didn’t know how.
One morning, my sister was teasing me about my hair. She was saying that is was really unfair that I had this long, thick, pretty hair and I could care less about it. She was scolding me for letting it look like a “rat’s nest” and was begging me to brush it. As I sat there making faces at her, twirling my graying hair, I knew what I would do. I would grow my “rat’s nest” really, really long and donate it to an organization that made wigs for women with breast cancer.
I won’t say that growing my hair was easy because at times, it wasn’t. I started growing my hair when I turned 35 and I wasn’t able to cut it until I was 37 1/2. My hair also started to go gray in the process, so I wasn’t able to do much with it. After the first 6 months, I looked very disheveled and messy. But each time I threw a hissy fit and thought about cutting it all off for vanity’s sake, I remembered that there were women who were losing their hair at rapid speed and they would give anything to not have that happen. Needless to say, I would be immediately humbled by these thoughts and keep growing it.
I also learned many valuable lessons from this experience, including an enormous lesson in patience. For although I may be a charitable person by nature, I am not a very patient person. I like action. I like solving problems. I like doing things. But this charitable deed required much patience of me, which led me to grow as a person. It also opened the door for many important conversations between my children and me about cancer and what we can do to help.
Over the years, my kids grew very accustomed to my long hair and when the day came to cut it all off, my son got very upset. He begged me not to do it because I wouldn’t look like me anymore. He had grown used to seeing me with a long brown ponytail and he used to tug on it every night before bed. It became a nightly ritual for us and although I was saddened by his tears, it brought so much clarity to the situation for me.
So many women lose their hair from chemotherapy and don’t look like themselves any more. This was what I was going to be able to help. In one very small way, I was going to be able to help bring about a positive change for one woman in need. So back in March 2014, I did something really great. After two and a half years of growing my hair, I was finally able to cut off 9 inches to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program.
Many people have asked me why I didn’t blog about my donation months ago. The reason is simple. Cutting my hair was never about me – or the blog. It was about trying to do something good for someone else. I felt that if I blogged about it right away, I’d be taking away from my original intention. So I waited, and waited, and then October was here and I thought, “Okay, let’s use this to help raise awareness.”
Although I cannot imagine what these women go through, I do know that even though I would be terribly frightened to find out that I had cancer, I would be just as frightened to find out that I was going to lose all of my hair during chemotherapy. At first, I was embarrassed to think that I would be so conceited, but then I saw this video from Brittany Davis and realized that many women that are diagnosed with breast cancer feel the same way.
So I would like to encourage you all to consider growing your hair an additional 8 inches and donating it to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program (or another program of your choosing). It will humble you. It will teach you patience. And, most importantly, it will help a woman in need of some normalcy, get some.
To find about more about the program, click here.
Do some good,