Marybeth Kersey has wanted to donate her hair to her mother, Lynn Hier, since she first found out she had stage I breast cancer. But at the time, her mother shot the idea down.
“I originally wanted to cut my hair and make it into a wig for her and she told me I couldn’t,” says Marybeth. “I was about 21 and in college so I listened.”
“She is very giving and loving and compassionate,” says Lynn proudly about her daughter. Lynn, who was a full-time registered nurse at the time of her diagnosis, went through a year of chemotherapy and three months of radiation before going into remission. Marybeth agreed that she would continue growing her hair out until her mom hit the official “cured” point in her remission.
But that was about 10 years ago, and the “cured” moment never arrived.
Last year, Lynn noticed a change in one of her breasts and asked for an MRI. The doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her chest wall and neck, leading to an immediate diagnosis of stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
“She was diagnosed about a month…before my wedding,” says Marybeth.
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Lynn’s treatment has been a very difficult experience for her, but she says the worst part has been the loss of her hair.
“For some women, it’s losing their eyebrows, for some women it’s the disfiguration of the breasts . . . for me, it was the hair,” she says.
About five months ago, Lynn started up another chemotherapy regimen to treat her cancer, and it has shrunk considerably. The disease is considered incurable, but her original prognosis of one to three years may actually be much longer than that since it was caught relatively early.
Lynn is not done fighting. And Marybeth is not done doing everything she can to help. She again asked if she could cut off her hair to make a custom wig for her mother—and this time her mother agreed.
“She’s my best friend and I would do anything in the world for her,” says Marybeth.
So after her wedding, Marybeth chopped off a full foot of her hair and began searching for someone to make a custom wig out of it.
“To make custom wigs out of your own hair…it’s a whole long thing,” says Marybeth.
Most of the time, when you donate your hair to charity, you don’t get to decide, or even know, where your hair goes afterward and who gets a wig made from it. That’s why it was so important for Marybeth to find someone who could make a custom wig specifically from her hair. After a long search, she found someone in California who could do it for her.
Recently, Lynn’s new custom wig arrived at her home. “It’s amazing. The minute I put it on, I was like, ‘I feel like myself again’,” she says.
Marybeth, for her part, is excited to be able to share such a special gift with her mother. She says her mother has given so much, and she’s happy to be able to provide her with some comfort now.
“I had this beautiful thick gorgeous head of hair, always have,” she says. “Mom never did…and so growing up, mom would do my hair just like every mother does and it would be, ‘Marybeth, I wish I had your hair’…I heard it my whole life…and now she has my hair.”
After the event, Marybeth and Lynn’s relationship has only grown more. They live two hours away from one another but feel closer than ever before.
“The woman has devoted her whole life to me as a daughter, so it’s the least I could do to make her feel comfortable and…I wish I could do more,” says Marybeth.
Lynn says her daughter’s gesture has changed her life. “I don’t know how to thank her for such a selfless act of love,” she says.
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