Fight Like a Girl

by Marlena Luciano
on September 25, 2015

On September 1st Headbands of Hope kicked off its annual celebration for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Endless pictures, hash tags, and tweets flooded social media to support #HeadbandDay2015. One post included a picture of Alison and her fighter friend Cheyenne, a 10-year-old girl battling T-Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Alison purchased a Kimono Tie for her in the hopes that they would win one to match. We decided to do just that and share their amazing story – the perfect way to end #DoubleDonation week and #ChildhoodCancerAwareness month.

Cancer research has been an important mission for Alison since the age of 9 when her father passed away from colon cancer.

During treatment, Alison’s father would share with her how unimaginable it was for children to endure what he was going through. In honor of his life, Alison and her family started a charity golf tournament to raise money for childhood cancer research. “That’s when I started to understand the need and importance of raising awareness for kids with cancer,” she said. 

About two years ago, Alison was in search for a new job and connected with a friend that worked with St. Baldrick’s. “When you are able to combine your everyday work life with something you’re passionate about,” Alison shared, “you know it’s the perfect fit.”

Her current work with St. Baldrick's social media ultimately introduced Alison to Cheyenne. Since she lost her hair from treatment, Cheyenne posted a video right after shaving her head. In the video, Cheyenne pulls off a beanie and puts up her fists as the words "fight like a girl" (her own motto during treatment) appear across the screen.

After Alison watched the video, she reached out to ask if they could share it on St. Baldrick’s page. When the time came to feature an Honored Kid for their September video, Alison knew Cheyenne was it. Both she and their videographer, Matt, visited with Cheyenne in the hospital and spent the entire day filming to learn her story. Cheyenne even took them to her home so they could get to know the girl beyond hospital doors.

“She showed me the real side to her,” said Alison, “not the childhood cancer, hospital side – but the fish loving, flute playing, book obsessed, trampoline jumping, regular kid side.”

Although they only met about a month ago, Alison said Cheyenne makes her feel like they've known each other for years. Just last week, the two met up again to visit Elope, a local supporter of St. Baldrick’s that makes their Leprechaun hats, and ate at Cheyenne’s favorite restaurant after.

About the same age as she was when her father underwent treatment, Alison acknowledged the noticeable maturity, strength and positivity within a girl battling such a disease.

“The knowledge she has on every drug going into her body, the courage she has to tell doctors to do whatever they need to do, and the strength I’ve seen her give her parents is more than I think I could have ever done at her age.”

Although September is ending, childhood cancer awareness does not have to. “Sometimes life throws us a challenge,” shared Alison, “and we have to fight like a girl” as Cheyenne does every single day. And she could not look any more adorable in her Kimono Tie while doing it :)

Carolyn Scott Photo Shoot

by Marlena Luciano
on August 17, 2015

Recently, Carolyn Scott Photography donated its talents to showcase some new styles for Headbands of Hope. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the amazing photographer captured our head chains, couture line, crown collection and more. Check out some of these incredible pictures from the shoot!

Campus Rep Spotlight: Brittany

by Jessica Ekstrom
on June 02, 2015

On March 3rd of this year my life was forever changed. I walked into Vidant children's hospital with a box full of headbands to deliver. I walked from room to room and met multiple patients. As I was about to leave I met the beautiful princess, Georgia, she was about to undergo her chemotherapy treatment. At her young age, she has experienced more than any child should have to. With her soft smile and bright eyes, Georgia can light up any room that she walks in. I visit Georgia at her house and we enjoy singing along to Frozen(she is quite the singer!), and eating pizza. Every time I arrive at their house, Georgia is so excited to show me what headband she is sporting that day, she has quite the collection of headbands from HOH. Georgia possesses strength that I strive for and although she lost her beautiful brown curls in her battle, she always has a positive mindset. I have learned so much from her. Georgia's bright eyes, sweet smile, and soft voice have completely stolen my heart. I would not have been able to experience any of this without Headbands of Hope, I am forever thankful to be a part of this organization. 
-Brittany Lewis, East Carolina University Rep. 

Meet Emma...A Patient Helping Patients

by Jessica Ekstrom
on May 29, 2015

"Ask most people and I am sure they would say being diagnosed with cancer is the worst thing imaginable.  No doubt, that’s true.  I still shudder at the memory of hearing the words “Emma, you have leukemia,” for the first time. My life changed completely on January 17th, 2012, when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  As a high school student/athlete who had always enjoyed having good health, the diagnosis came as a complete shock. My protocol included weekly chemotherapy, 40+ lumbar punctures, weekly physical therapy, and many oral medications over the course of two and a half years. It was the toughest thing I had ever gone through, but I came out a stronger person because of it all.

It may sound odd, but cancer has been such a blessing to me in so many ways. I’m continually amazed at how much these experiences have shaped me into who I am today. A few blessings in particular stand out to me…
In November 2012 I started a foundation to help the cancer patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. I run the foundation from my Facebook page called Emma Rose- A Patient Helping Patients. I collect comfort items for my fellow fighters at Children’s Hospital. Every month when I go in for my clinic visit, I bring about 60+ gift bags for the patients. This is my passion. I love those little kids.

My cancer journey inspired my future career choice.  If you had asked me a week before my diagnosis if I ever wanted to be a nurse, without hesitation, I would have said no. Now, I know without a doubt that I want to be a pediatric oncology nurse. My goal is to work exactly where I am treated now, in the MACC Clinic, and to work alongside the nurses who inspired me and saved my life. I cannot possibly imagine having any other career. I want to dedicate my life to helping children who are suffering from this horrible disease and finding a cure so that no child will ever have to go through what I had to.       

Now, I am three and a half years cancer free and my hair is growing back thick and curly and longer and longer each month. But for the 10 months that I was bald, and the next year as it was starting to grow back, I didn't know what to do with my hair (or lack there of). Losing my hair at 16-years-old was very traumatic and I always felt as if people were staring at me. I bought a wig but rarely wore it as it was itchy and I just didn't feel like myself wearing it. I ended up mostly wearing a pink baseball cap whenever I would go out in public, but it didn't really match my girly style.

One day I came across the Headbands of Hope Facebook page and sent them a message. I told them a little about my story and the work I do for my Children’s Hospital. They immediately mailed me a box of headbands to give to the girls and a few to keep for myself. I fell in LOVE and wore them everyday. From chemo treatments and procedures to the rare occasions I was allowed to go to school, you could always find a Headband of Hope on my head.

After years of Facebook communication, I finally got a message from Jess that she was coming to my hometown and that we were finally going to be able to meet in real life! It was so exciting to see her in person and hand some headbands to the kiddos at my hospital in Milwaukee. Spreading hope together, one headband at a time!"

- Emma

To support Emma and her organization, visit her Facebook page here. 

Meet Maya

by Jessica Ekstrom
on September 03, 2013

My name is Maya, I am 11 years old, and I have cancer. I was diagnosed in October 2012 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and I am in my eighth month of treatment. I live by the motto of Bob Marley’s song Three Little Birds and believe that ‘Every little thing is gonna be alright.’

Even though I am still going through treatment for my own cancer, I am already working on ways to support other kids with cancer. I have everything I need and I want to bring a little sunshine to other kids at the hospital.

Since I’ve had cancer and lost all of my hair, I was afraid people would look at me differently. But with headbands, I’ve gained confidence to go out in public bald, and I’ve gotten lots of compliments.

My very favorite headband is the one I received from Headbands of Hope. It means even more to me that they donate money to St. Baldrick’s for every headband they sell. Helping other kids with cancer made the idea of losing my hair a lot easier to take. Thank you to Headbands of Hope for bringing a little sunshine to me and other kids dealing with cancer.

Sarah's Story...

by Jessica Ekstrom
on April 02, 2013


"My story begins at fourteen years old, fresh out of 7th grade, and being told that I have Leukemia. Of course at that age, all I was worried about was my long beautiful curly hair. I wouldn’t lose it right? But of course, I would. As devastated as a fourteen-year-old could be, I held onto my hair until there were only wisps left. Then I shaved the remains off. There aren’t a ton of things I remember from those days, but I do remember being mistaken for boy quite a few times. I convinced my mom to buy me a wig, but soon found out that they were horrendously uncomfortable. Eventually, I embraced my bald head (and turned on my sassy attitude) and saw it as an opportunity to educate people.
     The year that I was diagnosed (2003) was the year my family first heard of The St. Baldrick’s Foundation. That spring we participated in the local St. Baldrick's Day. It was amazing for me to see the love and dedication friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers had for the children who were fighting for their lives. That event made me realize and believe fully that bald is beautiful. Since that first event my family and I have participated in St. Baldrick's Day bringing in about $50,000 dollars for life saving childhood cancer research. Little did we know how important that research would be in the future.
In 2010, three months after I shaved my head for St. Baldrick's Day raising almost $12,000, I relapsed with Leukemia at 20-years-old. I had just finished my sophomore year in college, I was anticipating my future and all the plans I had, that were now put on hold for chemo to get me into remission for a Stem Cell transplant. It's amazing to go almost 7 years, participating in a fun event hoping that it is actually making a difference in someone's life, and then it ends up making a difference in your life.
    The chemo that I received when I relapsed was a trial chemo that was solely funded by the St. Baldrick's Foundation. My only other option was a chemo I had when I was younger that would have damaged my body so severely that I most likely would not have survived my transplant. So, I think it is appropriate to say that the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the reason I am now 23, back at school, living my life, and loving every moment of it!
    Last year I received the honor of being one of the five St. Baldrick’s National Ambassadors. This is when I first heard of Headbands of Hope. A St. Baldrick’s representative contacted me to get involved in this amazing organization that gives a headband to a girl with cancer for every one they sell AND $1 of the proceeds go to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation! How awesome is that? Unfortunately, I was just “turning the corner” of the healing process and was not ready to actively participate.  
    However, feeling better then ever I am ready and excited to be a representative for Headbands of Hope! Being that I was older when I relapsed I had a more developed fashion sense and headbands were kind of my thing. I don’t think there is a single picture from the past 2 years where I wasn’t wearing one! Headbands made me (even though I know bald is beautiful) feel pretty and fashionable, but most of all they gave me strength and hope. I’m looking forward to providing this strength and hope for someone going through a subject I am all too familiar with: cancer."  

xoxo- Sarah

Meet Kathleen

by Jessica Ekstrom
on March 19, 2013

 I was 20 when I was diagnosed. I went into the hospital, after much persuasion from friends and my boyfriend, in December because of a golf ball sized lump in my neck. At the hospital I was told I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was transferred to another hospital and within 24 hours was rushed into emergency open heart surgery. The cancer had caused my lymphnodes to squeeze out the liquid they hold and it had form around my heart and was literally crushing it. 

I was told I would have lived maybe two more days if it had not been found. I would have died before my daughter's 2nd birthday. I was told I would never have any more kids after my treatments. 

I spent Christmas and New Year's in the hospital (a total of almost 3 weeks). I went through chemo treatments every other week. I spent a whole day getting my treatments. When my hair first started to fall out I decided I was going to have control of the situation for once and I had it shaved off. I hated wearing wigs and my only other option was scarves (headbands weren't as popular back then). I wore my baldness with pride because I was a warrior and I was going to be a survivor. Five months after my last treatment I found out I was pregnant. I had two children after my cancer, beating the odds I had been given.

Cancer is harder than anyone can imagine. You don't completely understand how someone feels until you've gone through it. After I was feeling better I decided to help bring a little joy to cancer patients. I bring cookies to the cancer floor in the hospital during Christmas and I volunteer at every opportunity I can. I have only been able to reach out to older warriors because my town is too small for children's cancer. 

After finding out about Headbands of Hope, it has inspired me to do even more, especially for children. You give little girls a gift of more than a headband, and that's what amazes me. Your headbands can give them pride in being a warrior and in being bald. I want to pass that message on in my community too.

Kathleen's Shave

by Jessica Ekstrom
on March 16, 2013

 As you know, our research partner is the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The foundation was started by 3 guys who decided to shave their heads for kids' cancer on St. Patrick's Day. Therefore, the St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraises through head shavings. Here's the story of a beautiful girl and her experience with her shave...

My name is Kathleen, and I am a senior at Saint Louis University studying public health and psychology. I recently applied to several occupational therapy programs for graduate school.  As part of this application process, I completed observation hours at outpatient clinics and hospitals. 

I had the opportunity to meet patients with cancer recovering from side effects of both the disease and treatment. In order to better understand rehabilitation from the patient's perspective and to establish a familiar connection with patients, I decided to sign up for a St. Baldrick's event. In my future career as an occupational therapist, I will meet people working to adapt to a new lifestyle due to disease, disability, and injury. If they should be frustrated by their situation, I want to at least begin to understand their perspective of missing something that is important to them and overcoming that hurdle. 

Shortly after signing up for the shaving event, I bought myself a Headband of Hope. Wearing it before and after the shave, it is an important reminder that, even with no hair, I still want to maintain my female identity. Being bald does not mean I have to miss out on some of the fun parts of being a girl, like dressing up my hair and accessorizing. In fact, now I can have my hair fixed in a fraction of the time while still showing the world that I'm ready to fight like a girl against cancer!

Your purchases giving back...

by Jessica Ekstrom
on January 07, 2013

What better way to start 2013 than spreading hope?

Thanks to your purchases, our recent donations have gone to:

- Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital
- Boston Children's Hospital
- Seattle Children's Hospital
- Riley Children's Hospital
- Philadelphia Children's Hospital

As always, your purchases are helping fund life-saving childhood cancer research with the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

We're off to a great start in 2013, let's make this a year of giving back to kids' cancer in style! :) 



Colts Cheerleaders

by Jessica Ekstrom
on December 26, 2012

Recently, two cheerleaders from the Indianapolis Colts, Megan M. and Crystal Ann, shaved their heads to show support for coach Chuck Pagano, who has been away from the team battling leukemia during much of the season.

The rest of the squad wanted to pitch in their support by wearing customized Colts' colored Headbands of Hope! Above is a picture of the girls sporting their headbands at practice.

We'll cheer for them! 




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