For a seven-year-old girl nicknamed “Rapunzel,” losing her hair during cancer treatment was especially difficult. Olivia, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma, shares other similar traits with this 1812 German fairy tale heroine and modern-day Disney protagonist besides beautiful tresses that trailed below the waist. They also share a fighting spirit.
“When our daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma in July 2021, it was a complete shock to us as it came out of nowhere,” says her mom Julie, who stopped working as an insurance agent to become her daughter’s full-time caregiver.
“One of the most difficult parts of her cancer journey was dealing with her hair loss,” she says. “I tried to stay strong for her as her hair fell out, but I couldn’t help but break down and cry. Before her hair fell out, it was so long and beautiful, and whenever we would go out, people would compliment her on her hair. So when it all fell out, it was extremely hard for her.”
A sassy, fun-loving girl, Olivia has remained positive through all she has endured.
“Sometimes she embraces her baldness and is fine with it, but, other times, I can tell that it bothers her as she thinks nobody will like her because she is bald,” comments Julie. “It helps, however, that her dad is naturally bald and she is such a daddy’s little girl. She even dressed up on Halloween as her dad, complete with a beard and matching outfit.”
While undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Olivia found out about the Wigs For Kids program and went to a salon to be fitted for a handtied hairpiece. She picked out color swatches to match her own hair color and had a wig made with hair a little longer than should-length.
Once Olivia got her wig, her face lit up and her spirits were immediately lifted. Now when she goes out, she wears her wig and she brushes it and puts in clips. And underneath, her hair is starting to grow back slowly.
“Wigs For Kids has been such a blessing, as her wig has helped Olivia become more confident and happy,” says Julie.
In addition to going through cancer treatment and losing her hair, it has been an especially challenging year because she can’t go to school and make new friends since she does virtual school with only her and her teacher. And couple that with watching her sister go to school and play with friends every week, it has surely been challenging to always stay upbeat.
“Olivia has been so strong through all of her treatments and continues to amaze me every day,” says Julie, noting that her daughter is almost cancer-free now and just has a few cycles of treatment left to go. “She is our little firecracker and always stays positive.”
A typical seven-year-old, Olivia likes to draw, create with Play-Doh, and sing all of the songs from Disney’s Encanto movie. And if she wanted to she could easily star in her own movie playing the heroine and conquering any enemy and obstacles thrown her way.