The Pink Ribbon Chronicles: Would You Shave Your Head For A Friend?
posted by: Mile High Mamas
Guest blogger Sonja Wieck did. She is mom to 3-year-old Annabelle and wife to Troy who is an actuary for Cigna. This Denver mama has competed around the world in triathlons from Olympic Distance World Championships in Gold Coast Australia, to Ironman Canada last year. Her passion in life is to help moms regain their athletic spirit after they have children. She regularly blogs at Go Sonja.
I got the email that I knew would come someday. 1 in 8 women get it, and although I’m not yet 30, I knew it would come. It was my wonderful friend Amy McDowell, and on August 1st she sent out an email to her close friends saying she had been diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2, grade 3, AKA Breast Cancer.
Amy and I met shortly after we had our first babies as members of the hiking group Colorado Mountain Mamas. Our children are less than a month apart and we instantly bonded. We have gone through the highs and lows of raising babies together, times that create strong bonds between women. We both started competing in triathlons together, supporting each other along the way.
The thing is, when Amy sent out her diagnosis email to us, she was 35 weeks pregnant with her second child. She felt a small lump and because she was seeing her doctor weekly for her pregnancy she brought up the lump. A week later and 30 doctors visits later, Amy was scheduled for an early induction to have her baby at 38 weeks, a double mastectomy, and chemo. Being one of Amy’s friends I was shocked, and then motivated to action. How could we help? What could we do?
Amy had her beautiful son Ty on August 17 without pain medication and on August 28th she had a double mastectomy. From day one Amy told all of us that she wanted to have a head shaving party after chemo started. She kept us up with her experiences in weekly emails titled “The Pink Ribbon Chronicles.” They have been informative, witty, thankful and very real.
This past Friday it was time for the Head Shaving Party. On a visit with Amy shortly after she had Ty she brought up the party and I said “I’m in.” Then I got home and thought, “Really, I’m gonna shave my head”? I started thinking about the concept and several things came to me.
One…Amy doesn’t have a choice. It’s a part of this horrible disease for her, her hair is going to leave her whether she likes it or not.
Two…it’s hair, come on people, it’s hair. Hats are quite prevalent in these parts. Please, it’s hair.
Three…the biggest one, if shaving my head can give Amy a giggle, or a laugh, something to make this process just a little bit easier, I’m in. She is my close friend and has been there for me through some of my dark times.
This last Friday, fifteen people lined up on her balcony and one by one, starting with her devoted husband Brian, we buzzed our heads for Amy. Of those 15, three of us were women, Amy herself, Hillary and me. The men lined up and buzzed without a single squeal, but the women laughed and giggled their way through it. I am so proud to go bald with Amy. I have told her since I committed to the buzz cut that I shaved my head not because it’s this huge monumental thing, but to remind her that “It’s just hair.”
(Hillary, Amy and Sonja)
On Sunday, 87 of Amy’s biggest fans walked with her in the Denver Race for the Cure on a team called Amy’s Chemo Sabes. We raised $8,000 as a group and there were many chilly bald heads walking with Amy that day. The highlight for me was crossing the line as the first female in the 5K race that morning, in all my baldness, thus entitling me to a short segment on Channel 9 news, where I was able to tell Amy’s story to the greater Denver area. Amy is going to beat this nasty disease. Six rounds of chemotherapy won’t be easy, but as her friend I plan to support and love her as much as I can through the pain.