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Buzz Cuts and Lucky Stars

Posted by Maggie McMeekin, Resource Nurse

Buzz Cuts and Lucky Stars
The Jimenez Family with Resource Nurse Maggie McMeekin

Yeimy, a beautiful mother of three, lost her hair to chemotherapy. By the time she came to our Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter in Barrington, her hair had started to grow back but was still very short. As a show of support, seven of her family members buzz cut their hair as short as hers, including her 16-year-old daughter Maggy. They did this en masse on a Saturday afternoon at the Barrington CareCenter.

Yeimy's husband was hesitant about having Wendy, their 9-year-old daughter, cut her hair quite that short. Wendy was unhappy about this, but began to search for another inspiration.

Here's where I come in. Late that same Saturday, I received a text message from a nurse coworker, asking, "The daughter of a patient wants a picture of you – can I give her one off Facebook?" I was puzzled and wanted to know more. "She loves your haircut," was the explanation. I texted my coworker a few awkward photographs of my hair, bemused and surprised by the situation. The next day, another coworker texted me saying, "One of Yeimy's daughters is a big fan! She cut her hair and is telling everyone it was to be like you!" I was floored. I did not expect to inspire a little girl in such a way.

I wasn't going to be back at work for a few days, but I wanted to come in and see Wendy, as well as her sister Maggy. I didn't want to come empty handed, so I brought some cute hair pins for them, as well as origami star paper. In a letter to the girls, I described a Japanese legend of a little girl named Hoshi, who loved looking at the stars in the sky. However, Hoshi was afraid of the stars falling and not being there one day. Hoshi found a way to make origami stars so that she could always hold onto them. She stayed up all night folding "lucky stars" out of paper, and by morning she had filled up a whole jar. I shared how, when I am stressed or sad, I make lucky stars too.

When I swung by work to drop the gift off, Wendy rushed out of the family room and gave me a hug. Her hair was dramatically shorter than I had last seen her, and she looked awesome – I made sure to tell her so.

I gave her the gift, and left. I was worried the girls would think origami was lame, and I hoped it wouldn't ruin whatever coolness they perceived in me thanks to my edgy haircut!

Stars JourneyCare 3The next day, I came into work for a regular shift, and Wendy and Maggy's aunt pulled me aside to tell me the girls had made so many lucky stars that they ran out of paper. They must have made hundreds. She asked where she can buy them more, and thanked me for helping the girls find something healthy to use as an outlet for their grief and pain. It passed the time and brought rare joy into their lives in the hardest days of their lives – the last few days of their mother's life.

What had been a long and somber time for the family ended up punctuated by moments of joy and bonding – with buzz cuts and bright lucky stars.

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