Anderson takes hair before treatment doesPublished 12:35am Sunday, May 6, 2012
It has been said hair is a woman’s glory — a reflection of who she is. But for business owner and stylist Cindy Anderson, hair is merely a covering.
Anderson, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, refuses to let chemotherapy and radiation snatch her brunette strands. Thursday, The Beauty Shop stylist made a courageous, riveting move to have all of her hair shaved in front of friends and family.
Doctors diagnosed Cindy with Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma on Valentine’s Day.
“In the back of my mind I already knew, and I had tried to accept at that point what was going on,” Anderson said. “I had my mammogram, my ultrasound and biopsy all on the same day (Feb. 13) … on February 14 when I went back for my results, my husband was with me and I could tell when the doctor walked in the door … she sat down beside me and held my hand and her exact words were, ‘I wish I had good news but I don’t.”
Doctors removed both of Cindy’s breasts and eight lymph nodes. Having recently started chemotherapy, Cindy must go through sixteen weeks of chemo and seven weeks of radiation.
“I was in shock because I thought this is something that happens to somebody else and I AM that somebody else,” Cindy said. “I’ve had my ups and downs … I think I’ve dealt with it pretty good; I’ve cried a lot, but basically for the loss of myself … I’ve decided to take my own hair because cancer is not taking anything else.”
Cindy said she was “emotional” the day before she decided to go bald. Her sister Debbie Veach did the honors of shaving her head.
“I was trying to prepare for it … when I sat down in the chair earlier … my nerves got to me,” Cindy said. “I do have wigs that I plan on wearing to church but I will sport my bald head; I’ve got some turbans and some scarves; I’m not going to be ashamed.”
Cindy said she was glad her family and friends came for support.
“I was glad to have them all here — I wanted them here,” Cindy said. “I didn’t want to do it by myself, and they wouldn’t want to let me to do it alone …”
Veach, who remained teary-eyed with every buzz of the razor, said her sister’s strength is an example to all.
“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I was so honored to do it,” Veach said. “It takes a woman like her to help other people get through this (cancer).”
Cindy’s husband Sammy said he’s proud of his wife. The process, Sammy said, has brought the family closer together.
“She’s very strong willed and it gives me strength just watching her,” Sammy said. “Petty things don’t matter.”
For Cindy, she’s taking it one day at a time.
“That’s how I have to deal with it … because everything changes,” Cindy said, who also attends regular meetings with Women of Hope, a breast cancer support group. “My first couple of weeks, I was at the doctor’s three or four times a week in Montgomery. I still go several times a week, and even when I’m through with my chemotherapy and my radiation … this will have to be followed up for 10 years.”
Cindy’s life-changing moment was captured on film for an upcoming documentary/music video titled “You Know Me” by screenwriter Dari Knight of Baldwin County, who’s known Cindy for more than 20 years, and Auburn University film students.
Knight said she and the film crew were deeply moved by Cindy’s story. Knight hopes Cindy’s story can be a source of inspiration for future cancer patients.
“She made a statement to me and she said, ‘I had to accept that I’ve lost myself’ and that just stabbed me in the heart,” Knight said. “She’s lost her income, her peace of mind, she’s lost her breasts. Everything is being taken away from her … this was a big deal for her. She was so scared. She wanted to be able to do this so that future cancer patients that were having to face this, would face it more prepared: better, stronger. So they could see, ‘you could do this.’”
Cindy has a message to send instructors and stylists.
“There is a different message for everybody,” Cindy said. “As an instructor … you need to know how to handle your clients that are facing cancer because it’s not just the physical changes they’re going through, it’s an emotional change and you have to be compassionate toward your client.
“For clients and friends and everybody else … take your health seriously, don’t let anything slip by,” Cindy said.
Those interested in helping Cindy can donate to C. Anderson Breast Cancer Fund at Riverdale Credit Union or online at fundly.com/youknowme