“Your hair is your crowning glory,” most grandmothers (and mothers) would often say. Women naturally have a sentimental attachment to their hair and are usually emotional about hair loss. We all know how infuriating it is when your phony stylist does a terrible job. Well, think about what a four-year-old would do.
When 32-year-old Emilie Orton from Arizona was diagnosed with stage-two germ-cell ovarian cancer, she knew her life was about to take a sharp turn. She was heartbroken about the drastic changes she had to face and the long months of painful treatment ahead of her. The mom of three certainly wasn’t ready to watch her hair gradually fall out as a side effect of chemotherapy, so she decided to let it go and save herself the torture.
What’s worse than letting a four-year-old hold a pair of scissors? Letting her use it on your hair. Since Emilie was ready to cut her hair, she decided to let her daughter Norah do the honors.  The proud mom recorded the precious moment and uploaded it onto her Instagram page where she runs a cancer awareness movement to encourage other women going through the same phase.
On the bright side…
On her Instagram page, Emilie wrote about working up to the tough decision to cut all her hair.
I’m feeling scared to take the plunge. Bald? Please no. But it’s definitely time. What if my head is secretly shaped weird? Like a neglected flat spot (is that even a real thing or just my creepy mom brain?) or what if I have a cone-head because I was a ginormous baby when I came out?
Hair is a huge part of our identity, Emilie wrote on Romper.  Once you find a good hairstylist you stick with them because they get you — no matter the cost, they’re worth it. And just as it’s every woman’s nightmare to lose their hair, it is every kid’s dream to cut hair.
She explains that her daughter Norah is a little beauty maverick. The preschooler is extremely cautious about outfits, hair, and anything fashion and style. With a very serious look on her face and skillful clamps of the scissors, Norah, also called “Shug”, chapped off all her mom’s hair with worthy precision. The bathroom was the makeshift salon where Shug went all David Mallet on her mother.
After I started losing my hair from chemo, I told Shug she could cut my hair however she wanted. She was in heaven, and did a fantastic four-year-old job, Emilie continued. My favorite and scariest hairstylist I’ve ever had.
Emilie is determined to put up a brave fight
Since her diagnosis, Emilie has been documenting her cancer journey on Instagram, creating a community of people sharing their stories and encouraging and others going through the same thing. While she admits that the journey has not been easy on her, she’s going to face it with a brave heart and come out all right.
In one of her posts last month, she shared a photo of herself lying on a hospital bed, weak and exhausted. She opened up about dealing with occasional episodes of emotional and physical breakdown.
The annoying thing about chemo is… everything, she wrote. It’s been so frustrating this week. I’ve been in such a dark place. And it has become so real. It’s not all goofy Mr. Clean Halloween because sometimes it really is just the worst. Not only do I feel horrible inside but when I look in the mirror, it’s so hard to recognize who I am on the outside too. This isn’t a poor me post but a reality post and a here-is-what-cancer-can-feel-like post. I don’t want to forget how it was.
Despite the pain, Emilie isn’t letting cancer or chemotherapy take away the joy in her life. She wants everyone out there dealing with any form of this horrible condition to try to live their best lives every day. Positivity is key to a long-lasting recovery. She tries to have a lot of fun with her family which include regular days out at the beach, shopping, hiking, gardening, volunteering, and generally any activity that would allow them to be together as a happy family.
Emilie is a lover of holidays and traditions. This Halloween, she and her family were dressed up as characters from Harry Potter.
Her husband was Sirius Black, freshly escaped from Azkaban. She was dressed as Professor Trelawney, disoriented and frightened as usual. Her first son was Harry Potter himself, glasses and scar on point. Little Shug was Hermione Granger, bright eyes and wand at the ready. Their little baby was Dobby, dressed in a white off-shoulder robe with the perfect elf ears, and crying all the way about her unexciting costume (she’s truly an Arizona gal).
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Halloween 2019 Let’s laugh about the fact that the Halloween Gods were in my favor this year when we chose out a costume with a wig, long before I knew I’d be bald as a turtle. We’ve only completed reading through book three with the kids, so characters had to be chosen accordingly. Sirius Black has freshly escaped from Azkaban, Professor Trelawney came down from her tower, Harry swallowed a snitch, Hermione and her time turner, and dear Dobby (who may be a free elf, is still an Arizona child who didn’t appreciate her costume being a pillowcase and a stocking cap when it’s freezing out…) Expecto Patronum!
Knowing that a beautiful baldness was coming my way terrified me and made me cry on multiple occasions, but I tried to think of the best way to make it bearable for this family of mine. After all it was not just me going through this cancer journey, but all of us together. And also my hair, Emily wrote on Romper.
When cancer gives you 100 reasons to cry, show that monster that you’ve got a million reasons to smile. That’s how to beat this thing.
To everyone battling this disease, you are in our prayers. Cancer may have started the fight, but you’ll end it by winning.
Lots of love.
- “Mom Losing Her Hair From Chemo Lets Her 4-Year-Old Give Her a Haircut: ‘She Was Both My Favorite & Scariest Hairstylist’.” Yahoo. Maressa Brown. December 3, 2019.
- “How To Have Your Toddler Cut Your Hair When You’ve Got Cancer.” Romper. Emilie Orton.November 21, 2019.
- “Emilie Orton.” Instagram. December 6, 2019.