Devastated at being diagnosed with two forms of cancer at the age of just 17, Houston resident Valerie Loredo hit a new low when her head had to be shaved. She chose a highly original, not to say bold, solution.
Teenage Cancer In Numbers
We're relieved to report that cancer is extremely rare in children, at least statistically speaking. Just the same, statistics do not reveal the heartache and pain associated with every incidence. It is forecast that around 16000 American children under the age of 19 will receive the dreaded news in 2017, and around 2000 of those children will not survive the illness.
This terrible blight on families is probably more easy to empathize with at this time of year as we come together and reconnect, it is a time for children. Your heart goes out to the child and, maybe even more, to their parents and siblings. It is a source of great comfort when we find positive stories of children and their families learning to cope in original ways with the tough rigors of cancer treatment. Valerie Loredo is a superb example of just such a child.
Diagnosed simultaneously with two types of cancer at the age of just 17, Valerie Loredo of Houston found the experience understandably difficult to deal with. "...it was really hard, I cried so much. A lot of people were staring and they were like what's going on?" Like any 17 year old anywhere in the world her appearance was something she took great pride in. Her first strategy was inspired by Britney Spears, "I was going to dress as Britney when she shaved her head. I noticed a lot of people stared but they weren't staring like she has cancer. Since then I've felt more confident."
That confidence manifested itself again when Valerie was inspired to experiment with Henna tattoos, a temporary form of tattoo that lasts only a couple of weeks. At the heart of the henna crown she designed for herself was the ribbon, symbol of cancer awareness. It is the sort of inspirational courage that young people facing cancer show us time and again, but is never any less inspiring for that. It was certainly inspiring for the artist she chose to draw the henna onto her head, Gilbert Zamora who said "Change for me is sometimes a little scary. I was thinking about what she must be going through. It was really reassuring to me to know there is always hope. No matter what is thrown at you. You can always fight through it. I admired her for her strength Not sure I could go through with the same thing.
You can see more pictures of Valerie's work and more of Gilbert's art on his Instagram page here
HIS Hair Clinic
We hope the fortitude and creative strength of Valerie's story provides inspiration to many other child cancer sufferers, and of course to their families. The vast majority of readers here know something of the heartache of losing hair, it is hard to imagine losing it suddenly and in the immediate aftermath of the shock of a cancer diagnosis. It is only by embracing their new realities that a positive course can be set and pursued. These kids that take the challenge on by grabbing both horns should give us all cause for optimism as we head into a new year. We all have it in us, it just takes adversity to bring it out.
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