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Regina Leonard Regina Leonard
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A heavy dose of reality

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I consider myself lucky to have a job I love. I chose to become a cosmetologist because it was more important to me that I love going to work every day than how much money I made each week. I can honestly say, as I approach the 11 year mark, that I still feel that way. Being able to impact people's lives, make their day and give them confidence by making their hair look its best really is the best job. I have met some pretty amazing people in the last 11 years and a lot of them still come see me every six weeks. There is however, one part of my job that I can say I hate, and that is shaving the heads of beautiful, strong, amazing women faced with the battle of their life after being told, "You have cancer."

Despite being the hardest part of my job, I am always truly honored when asked to do this for someone. It is a moment I never forget, even if I didn't know them beforehand. In fact, I often think about those women and pray that they are doing OK. Most of the women become clients of mine afterwards, and I am happy to say that is because they beat cancer and got their hair back.

This nasty disease takes a lot from those battling it, and the moment that a woman has to shave her head is the moment when it seems to become real. I am always in complete awe of each of these women and how each of them handles this difficult situation. I always make sure to take my time and reassure them and when we get started. I usually crack a few jokes because the best way I know to get through the process is to laugh. I see an instant transformation in each person that truly amazes me. I tell them to get their warrior faces on and to get mad. Cancer can have your hair, but it can't have you.

The job I do every day is so vain and selfish if you really think about it. It is all about us and how we want to look. So many people are defined by their hair. Women are constantly trying to find the perfect hairstyle. When we don't get what we want with our hair, we get mad. It is the moments when I am forced to stop, show compassion and shave someone's head that all the vanity in my job gets to me.

Being handed a heavy dose of reality puts it all in perspective for me. It tells me to slow down and think about what really matters in life. I am thankful to be a comfort to women in all types of situations, including shaving their heads. These moments mold us into better people and me into a better hairstylist. Having to turn on those clippers one more time motivates me to give back to my community, raising all the money I can for cancer research.

So the next time you look in the mirror and you want to shave your head because you hate your hair, remember this article and be thankful you have hair. A dear friend of mine, a cancer survivor, told me that she wakes up each day so happy to be able to complain and live a "normal" life. That really made me think. Someone who was faced with the possibility of not surviving now is happy to wake up with a "bad hair day" because the great news is, she has hair! That is the way we all should wake up each day.

* If you or someone you know has cancer and needs a wig, please contact me. I work exclusively with Raquel Welch wigs and do not increase my costs to anyone purchasing a wig because they have cancer.

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