“My youngest daughter wouldn’t hug me if I was wearing a wig. I don’t think it was because she stopped loving me. I think it was because I was the face of cancer,” said Holly Rose, founder of Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump!
Rose was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 at 39 years old and lost her hair during chemotherapy, a reality for so many women in treatment. According to breastcancer.org, 266,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone.
“That’s the most terrifying part of treatment for so many women,” said Rose. “You think it’s a matter of vanity when you lose your hair, but it’s so much more than that. It’s your identity as a woman, wife, mother.”
After four months of chemo, two surgeries and two more months of radiation, Rose emerged cancer free.
Touched by all the community support, Rose decided she needed to give back so she founded Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump!, a non-profit that encourages checkups and also provides wigs for women who have lost their hair. The non-profit let’s women pick their own wig from a wig shop, with a maximum value of $250.
“Each story is different. Another woman was like, ‘I can walk in and be a school principal and not scare the kindergartners,'” said Rose. “Another woman wore her wig to bed every night because she was afraid her husband wouldn’t love her anymore if she didn’t have hair.”
Those women and their stories live on a wall in Rose’s workspace, reminding her of why she does this.
“To have a wig and be able to walk out the door and not be a cancer patient is a beautiful gift,” said Rose.