One month before her wedding, Kristen Berset-Harris felt a hard lump in her breast and thought “not again.” Instead of retreating to fight cancer alone, Berset-Harris, a TV anchor in Washington, D.C., announced to viewers that she would be taking a leave of absence to fight her second bout of breast cancer.
But Berset-Harris didn’t retreat to the shadows. As she spent time recovering with her husband and two stepdaughters, she had a chance to reflect on who she was and what she wanted to be in life. While recovering, she interviewed and accepted her dream job–hosting Great Day Washington on WUSA 9 in August 2017.
This year, we are proud to welcome her as the evening’s host for The Hair Affair on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at The Carnegie Institution for Science from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. A lightly edited Q&A follows.
Heather Caro was a 32 year-old wife and mother of two kids, excited about starting her new job as a nurse in the ICU, when she found a pea-sized lump on her breast. Her battle with cancer meant she had to miss work, and she hadn’t worked at her current job long enough to qualify for the job protections associated with the Family and Medical Leave Act, so she lost her job and her health insurance.
In the five years since her diagnosis, Caro has become an outspoken advocate for providing safeguards and protections for cancer patients, and her formidable leadership has gotten others’ attention. She opened up for an interview with People Magazine, gave an acclaimed Ted Talk, and is now the honored guest and speaker for Lolly’s Locks’ 6th Annual DC Gala, The Hair Affair DC, on May 3, 2018.
She took some time to answer questions with Lolly’s Locks. A lightly edited Q and A follows.
This post was written by one of our recipients, Aleah, from Santee, CA.
Reflecting on all I’ve been through, I am still in such awe of the great kindness that Lolly’s Locks has brought to me! It really gave me a boost of confidence and hope when I was drowning in a pool of fear. I had to keep working full time through my treatment to keep my health insurance, and I had no idea how that was going to go once I lost all my hair from chemo. Luckily, my new Lolly’s Locks wig had arrived just as my hair was coming out in clumps and I had chosen to buzz the rest off. “Normal” is a word that I think every cancer patient clings to…you just want to feel normal again! My wig allowed me to feel normal, go through my day, and be at work without that stamp of “Cancer Patient” all over me. I can’t explain how comforting it feels to have some little piece of control throughout your cancer treatment (since everything else seems so completely out of your control!). With my wig, I was able to determine when, where, and IF I felt like revealing my cancer status…my bald head didn’t do it for me! That seems like a small thing, but for me it was really huge.
Since treatment has ended, I am starting to feel better and get back to “Normal” life (there’s that word again!). My real hair has grown back in a bit (although I can’t wait until it’s as luxurious and long as my wig was!) and I’m trying to put cancer in the rearview mirror and live anew. I want to let every woman going through something similar to know that it IS possible, you CAN get through everything! I am so grateful to organizations like Lolly’s Locks who encourage us to keep going forward in our lives despite this illness…there’s no reason why we have to hide ourselves away! Get out there and live life!
Thanks, as always, for everything you guys do.
p.s. The side by side photo is me with my delightful wig last year, and me now that my real hair is growing back! Now if we can just get the real hair to look more like the wig hair 😉
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Lolly’s Locks, a nonprofit that provides high-quality wigs to economically disadvantaged cancer patients, is pleased to announce that Kate Pankoke of Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars, will be the fashion partner showing her collection from her line, Elaya Vaughn at Lolly’s Locks’ DC Night of Fashion on Thursday, May 18th at The Watergate Hotel. Pankoke will collaborate with Lolly’s Locks’ wig partner, Shevy Wigs, in order to present a wig-centric fashion show with the purpose of showing just how undetectable and beautiful a high-quality wig can truly be.
This post was written by one of our recipients, Natalie, from Philadelphia, PA.
When I turned 50 in June 2015, I was convinced that it was not only my MILESTONE birthday, but my year to SHINE! Philadelphia born and raised, I have always aspired to be an author and have two self-published novels under my belt. I was more than determined to write that THIRD, which would be my BEST-SELLER, my PULITZER PRIZE masterpiece – the one that would take my LIFE to even greater heights! So not only had I reached a milestone age, I would make people take notice of my God-given talents and abilities – once and for all!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Lolly’s Locks, a nonprofit that provides high-quality wigs to economically disadvantaged cancer patients, is pleased to announce that Denise Albert, founder of The MOMS, Co-Host of The MOMS with Denise & Melissa on SiriusXM Stars, and breast cancer survivor will host Lolly’s Locks’ NYC Night of Fashion on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at Flash Factory NY.
This post was written by one of our recipients, Sara, from San Jose, CA.
My name is Sara, and I am a mother of three. When going through treatment for my Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma my children were 2, 4, and 12. I was hard for me to let them see me. I didn’t want to look sick, and it is very hard to not look sick when you have almost no hair. They wanted to comfort me and be with me. I would have to cover my head with a beanie or a scarf and just say my hair was messy. When I got the wig from Lolly’s Locks it made me feel almost normal again, at least I could definitely look normal. I remember my oldest was the first one to see me wear it. He had just come home from school.
This post was written by one of our recipients, Viktoria, from Union City, NJ.
Hi, I’m Viktoria,
I’m 40, and a mom of two boys. Last year I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, and also I was found to be positive for the BRCA1 mutation. Cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes, and tumor was too big to operate, so I had to start with chemo to shrink it.
I did the TCHP protocol first. Two weeks after that, my hair started to fall out in chunks. It was the most emotional part for me and my family. I was always a long haired girl. I let my four year old boy cut it, to make it less scary for him.
This article was provided by Social Security Disability Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages get the disability benefits they need. If you need have any questions or need any help understanding the application process, feel free to reach out to their staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for people with cancer who are unable to work. These necessary benefits allow you to focus on what’s truly important: recovery.
Medically Qualifying with Cancer
When the SSA receives your application, it will compare your cancer to its own medical guide, known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists exactly how advanced your cancer needs to be to qualify.
Some cancers will medically qualify with just a diagnosis. These include:
- Certain forms of lymphoma or leukemia
- Esophageal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Salivary cancer
- Sinoasal cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Other forms of cancer will qualify differently. For example, breast cancer will qualify if it has spread to a your chest wall or skin, or to more than 10 auxiliary nodes. This typically means women with Stage III breast cancer or higher will medically qualify. Prostate cancer will only qualify if it has progressed or returned despite treatment, has spread to other internal organs, or is a small-cell carcinoma.
It’s been a tough week here at Lolly’s Locks. We lost one of our recipients, Gladis. She was a bright, inspiring, thoughtful young woman. Gladis lived in California with her two teenage children and her parents. As a single mom, she had her hands full, and she had spent the last several years fighting three separate cancer recurrences.