Event at Driscoll Children’s Hospital will benefit cancer patients who’ve lost their hair
CORPUS CHRISTI – It all started about two months ago with an unusual lump on her neck. At first, Taylor Garcia was told it was a staph infection and was given antibiotics and steroids to treat it. After a month, the lump wasn’t making any progress and another lump appeared.
“Her ear, nose and throat specialist decided to remove the lump and biopsy it,” said Jennifer Garcia, Taylor’s mom. “Originally, the pathologist said, ‘Looks fine, just send it off for further testing and we’ll see.’ None of us expected it to come back as Hodgkin’s.”
On July 7, Taylor found out she had stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and her life changed suddenly. She was just six days shy of her 13th birthday. The next day she had an appointment with an oncologist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
Taylor, who takes her hair very seriously, often changed her dark brown locks, from cutting them short and choppy with red streaks to lightening them to a caramel color. Then she learned she would lose her hair from chemotherapy treatment.
“I didn’t really care what was going on until the doctor told me I was going to lose my hair,” she said. “I really like my hair. I get it done every month so I was pretty upset.”
Upon hearing she would be losing her hair, Taylor went to a family friend and local hairdresser and requested blue streaks. Then, less than 10 days after her first chemotherapy treatment at Driscoll, she started losing her hair; a little in the shower and more and more as she brushed through it.
“It started a week after we dyed it, so I decided to cut it short. A couple days after that, I ended up shaving it all,” she said.
During an appointment at Driscoll, Child Life Specialist Mara Ellis spoke with Taylor about getting a wig from an organization called Children with Hair Loss. Two days after she shaved her head, Taylor’s wig came in.
“Hair loss is the most visible sign that a person is battling cancer,” Ellis said. “Children and adolescents want to feel like they are the same as their peers. Wigs give them the confidence to not be judged when they go to the mall and gives them the courage to go back to school and hang out with friends.”
Although Taylor lost her beloved hair, her new wig allows her to change up her look when she wants to. In fact, she got it cut to the style that her hair was before she lost it and bought blue clip-on streaks to add to it.
“I actually think the wig looks a lot better than my regular hair!,” she said, laughing.
Last year, Driscoll Children’s Hospital commemorated Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by inviting the community to have their hair cut so it could be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. The event was such an overwhelming success that Driscoll is doing it again this year on Sept. 19. Hairstylists from several local salons will be on hand to cut hair and donate it to Children with Hair Loss.
“My hairstylist will be one of the people there,” Taylor said, smiling. “I’m going to help her.”
The public is invited to show their support and donate their hair at the event, which is sponsored by ExxonMobil. There will be commemorative t-shirts for sale, door prizes, food provided by Freebirds World Burrito and music. Additionally, a bloodmobile from Coastal Bend Blood Center will be on site accepting donations.
Hair must be at least eight inches from the ponytail and chemically treated hair will be accepted as long as it’s healthy. Hair will be clipped and given a straight cut, but not styled.
“We want to celebrate our little warriors and let them know that we – not just Driscoll Children’s Hospital, but the whole community – are standing behind them and supporting them,” Ellis said.
What: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month hair cutting event and blood drive
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19
Where: Driscoll Children’s Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Information: (361) 694-5311