This Is Not A Haircut

Mrs. Gabriel (Photo: Ty’Shawn Key, Patterson Press)

By Ty’Shawn Key

For the past week or two there has been a lot of commotion about Mrs. Gabriel and her stylish new hairdo. Many are asking “Why did she go short?”, and “Had she gotten tired of black?” The answer is amazing! Unknown to many, for the last eight years Mrs. Gabriel has been in a battle against breast cancer.

It all started eight years ago one day when Mrs. Gabriel had gone on a typical doctor’s visit and she decided that it was time for her to have a mammogram–a breast cancer screening that all women should have. Upon completing the screening, doctors discovered that Mrs. Gabriel had a microscopic tumor in her breast. She was then diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer. She soon had the tumor removed. Once the tumor had been successfully removed, Mrs. Gabriel was assigned estrogen prevention medicine in 2007. Estrogen causes cancer to grow.

In the December of 2012, five years after starting her medications she returned to her doctor for an annual mammogram screening. This time during the screening doctors had found that the cancerous cells had spread to the lymph nodes under her left arm. This was the same side the cancer was first spotted in. In January, she had the lymph nodes biopsied. Shortly afterward, the cancerous cells returned. Mrs. Gabriel had now been diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.

So the following February, Mrs. Gabriel went through surgery and had twenty-one of her lymph nodes removed.  From April of 2013 all the way through September of that same year, Mrs. Gabriel went through sixteen rounds of chemotherapy, followed by thirty-five days of radiation. During this process Mrs. Gabriel lost her hair and has been wearing a wig ever since.

Since the beginning of her adult life, Mrs. Gabriel has had long black hair; however during this process she lost it all, just as many cancer patients do. To save herself from embarrassment and to keep her students from getting distracted by her condition, she decided to purchase a custom-made wig, composed of real human hair, specialized for cancer patients so that they can look as normal as possible. For the past year, Mrs. Gabriel has been wearing a wig to work every day to keep the daily flow as normal as possible. In fact, she pulled this off so nicely that no one except for a select few knew of her condition.

Recently, however, since the success of the surgery, Mrs. Gabriel’s hair has been growing back, and it is looking better than ever! So after a while of going out without her wig every other now and then, Mrs. Gabriel decided to go natural to visit her family up in New York. After receiving positive comments about her new look she decided on her return flight to Baltimore that she would wear the wig no more.

Mrs. Gabriel’s story is one that shows how faith, determination, open-mindedness, and a strong spirit can get you through any tough time; because every day, even though Mrs. Gabriel had a difficult situation, she still pushed through and carried on with her life. Every day she came to work and helped her students. Every day she went home, lived with, and got support from her family. Every day she fought for a better, brighter tomorrow, and every day she did it with a smile. So this new hair style you see now is NOT a haircut. It’s a victory.


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