DHS Sophomore Shaves Head to Comfort Niece During Chemotherapy

Filed under: Schools |
Submitted by Panther Prints
Story by   Tatiana Marceleno
Sophomore Darlin Munoz, shaved her head to help her cousin cope with her hair loss during chemo therapy. Darlin sat on the couch at her cousin Stephanie Rojas’ house looking through a photo album of photos of them when she had hair. They exchanged laughs together lightening the burden on Stephanie. (Ariana Canchola photo)

Eight-year-old Stephanie Rojas giggled and smiled at pictures from an old family scrapbook. Sophomore Darlin Munoz looked at the patches of hair that dangled from her nieces frail head. Standing over Stephanie’s shoulder, she scanned through the pictures where both she and Stephanie once had long, dark hair. Now her hair is shaved, and with just one look to her young niece, she knows that loosing her hair was one of the best decisions she’s ever made

“As I was getting my hair shaved off, I was thinking ‘I’m doing this for a good reason,” Munoz said. “I was happy with my decision of loosing all of my hair.”

Munoz and her family are dealing with Stephanie’s diagnosis with cancer after a doctor forund a tumor in her pelvic area. Stephanie’s constant chemotherapy sessions left her with only a few strands of her dark brown hair to fall over her shoulder. As a way to show their support, Munoz and her family decided to shave all of their hair off to help Stephanie feel more secure. To her mother Fany Rojas, shaving their heads meant keeping the family close together through the tough time

“I want her to feel more confident,” Mrs. Rojas said. “I shaved my head because I want to support her and I want her to feel that she isn’t the only one going through the loss of her hair by herself.

After the week of final exams, Munoz and her family gathered at Stephanie’s house to have a head shaving party, where Stephanie was the first to shave everyone’s head. Mrs. Rojas, Munoz, her brother Daniel, his girlfriend Evelyn Vega, and Stephanie’s younger sister all shaved their heads to show their support. Before shaving their hair, Stephanie cut the ponytails of the girls’ hair and began running the hair clippers over their heads

“It was fun shaving everyone’s head,” Stephanie said. “I was shaving their heads, but then I got tired.

Mrs. Rojas said the family goes to the store and people stare at her from down the aisles, but Stephanie said she finds humor in going to the store

“We just go to the store to scare people,” Stephanie said with a laugh

Even as Munoz walks down the hallways at school, she is used to the looks and fingers being pointed at her. She’s learned to accept people talking about her and asking about her once long dark hair that was colored pink most of the time and why is is all gone now

“When I came back to school after shaving my hair, people kept staring at me,” Munoz said. “But they never asked me why I shaved my head.”

Munoz said she was worried about how people would react when she returned from shaving her hair, but knowing her hair wasn’t going to grow back for a while, she accepted that people would look and question her. Because people usually stared, but never asked, she and Mrs. Rojas made buttons labeled, “Ask me why I’m bald.” Sporting the buttons down the hallway, she is always excited to tell her story to anyone who may ask

“Most of my friends knew that I was going to do it,” Munoz said. “But now when I tell people I did it for my niece they say, ‘awe, that’s sweet.

For Munoz’s brother Daniel, shaving his head was the least he could do for his niece, but for his girlfriend to shave her head for his family was a big way for her to show her love for Stephanie. Vega admits to not spending so much time with Stephanie, but says she wishes she could be closer to her

“She’s somewhat of a niece to me because of how close I am with my boyfriend,” Vega said. “I know not many people would shave their heads for someone because of the criticism that comes with d0ing something like this, especially as a girl, but my family was proud of my decision to shave my head.

As she continues through her usual schedule of doctors appointments and school, Stephanie knows that she still has her family for support. Looking up at Munoz on the couch, she smiles to show how happy she is to have her by her side.

“I feel like everyone is supporting me and everyone is being a happy family,” Stephanie said. “I think everyone is happy and I am glad they shaved their head just for me.”