Before I really knew anyone who had breast cancer, my mother and I started walking back in 2003 as part of a work fundraiser. We were touched by the overwhelming support and community for the Making Strides Walk for Breast Cancer and we have participated every year since then..
But that soon changed, my Sister had breast cancer, my Mother had breast cancer and my Paternal Grandmother had breast cancer. Due to early detection, they survived. We also have an Aunt who had breast cancer and we miss her very much. I have many friends and salon friends who have suffered. I’ve had the honor to shave heads, listen to stories of victory and defeat and give many hugs.
I know this sounds crazy but I agonized over which organizations should Lola support, as if there is a wrong answer. There are so many, and honestly it seemed cliche to support Breast Cancer as an organization because everyone does it. So I sought out some other types of amazing organizations and contributed to their causes. I tried to make sure the money was going to the right place. There’s a lot of controversy around some charities and how they are run. I was becoming scared that I’d donate to the wrong thing.
I have a story I’d like to share about my Aunt that I mentioned above. I’ve shared this story with my family and with my staff. She is not really my Aunt. It’s one of those things where I always called her Auntie but she’s my sister’s sister-in-law. I grew up with her kids, she has a daughter the same age as me.
She was a force to be reckoned with. She was an Italian immigrant. She was a jack of all trades and the most generous, selfless person out there. She was bright and bold and you always knew she was there - confident yet humble and on fire.
At her memorial, her children gave the most amazing celebratory speeches I’ve ever heard anyone give about anyone. They all touched on the fact that she had this light that she shared with everyone. Whether it was a flickering candle or a bolt of lightning - she exuded some sort of light on everyone she met. I could never do justice to what they said about her.
And I thought, I want to do that… I want to spread some sort of light to everyone I meet, but I’m a little shy. I decided that I have to start somewhere so I went right to Lola and shared all this with my team. My team gives me this amazing energy that I can do anything. I thought if I tell them this - then it will become real and I can start to take my tiny light and grow it and maybe they will shine their lights brighter. Maybe I can help someone in my life’s path.
So, I decided that I don’t care if it’s cliche or overdone and we’re going to support Breast Cancer and Cancer organizations along with many other charitable organizations.
To take it a step further, we’re going to incorporate HairToStay in our efforts. HairToStay (www.hairtostay.org) is the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping cancer patients afford scalp cooling, a treatment that can dramatically reduce chemotherapy induced hair loss. As well as subsidizing the treatment, we help to raise awareness and offer information and support to patients considering the use of scalp cooling to keep their hair during chemotherapy.
I know full well that there is far more to lose than ones hair, but it is a devastating part of the process for some people. Maybe looking a little more like themselves will help them to feel better and have a little more confidence and strength.
My family and I are walking for you. I know you all have a story just like mine. You either have a light to share or maybe could use some of ours.
Thank you for your time and thoughts.