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A weight off my shoulders

Published 9:22pm Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Every two years around this time I get the urge to lop all my hair off. It’s due in part to Virginia’s summer humidity, which begins to appear in June. But it’s also a bit of a tradition for me. Since I witnessed my mother’s first trip to the hair salon to donate her extra-long mane to Locks of Love many years ago, I’ve made the same trip every two years. That’s how long it takes my hair to grow the required 10 inches, though, one year I managed to grow 15 inches of donation-worthy hair.

A lot of people seem shocked that I would ever cut off all that hair. Others are equally shocked that I can reach donation-length in just two years, especially since I’ve never had to cut my hair shorter than shoulder-length to do so. I’ve been asked how I can let go of my hair that easily.

The hairdressers who have performed the cut expect me to be apprehensive, even scared. Others say I’m brave for doing it. But really, it takes no effort at all, let alone bravery. All I do is absolutely nothing, and it grows all on its own. And then I get it cut off. When the deed is done, it’s literally a weight off my shoulders. Plus, there’s that extra-good feeling you get when you are able to help someone else.

I can’t imagine myself not cutting that load off my head every two years. But I also can’t imagine completely shaving it off. That’s why I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for Evelyn Arnold, a Suffolk mom who is shaving her hair to support research for pediatric cancer.

“Really, it’s an honor to be part of this group of brave women who are dedicated to raising awareness and raise funds for pediatric cancer research,” Arnold told the Suffolk News-Herald.

And she’s right. That is true bravery. A woman without her hair is still an odd sight for many people. For some women, their hair is their identity. To willingly cut that off is a testament to Arnold’s bravery, and the bravery of the other moms who will be taking part in the event.

For Arnold, it is also a sign of the commitment and love the mother has for her child, Erick, who is a cancer survivor. She is willing to make the cut for him and for all those who have been affected by pediatric cancer.

Compared to Arnold’s sacrifice, getting a few inches trimmed is nothing. And with the action of these 46 women, perhaps more people will recognize this and begin making donations of their own.

According to Locks of Love, it takes six to 10 donated ponytails to make a single wig for a child. And the organization says it is always in need of donations.

Take it from me: Cutting off 10 inches really is a weight off your shoulders, especially in these extra-hot summer months. For more information about donating your hair to Locks of Love, visit www.locksoflove.org.

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