A diagnosis of cancer is a traumatizing experience in itself, followed by a journey for survival. Having beaten cancer, Teri Tolbert understands the toll of battling cancer better as well as anyone else. And despite being able to proudly walk the survivors lap at Relay For Life, her thoughts remain with those taking the same steps she took.
In an effort to provide a measure of comfort, Tolbert, along with Robbie Brooks, made a decision one-and-a-half years ago to provide that comfort, and began to grow her hair out. Friday night, Mendy Johnston cut Tolbert's hair, which will be used to make a wig that will be provided to women, who have lost their hair through cancer treatments. The hair will be given to Pantene, which partners with the American Cancer Society, which provides wigs at no cost.
"Robbie and I were working on growing our hair out together," Tolbert said "Just a couple of months after we decided to do this, we lost her.
"It's just hair to me and I'm proof it grows back."
Tolbert was diagnosed with cancer on Jan. 23, 2007 and was in treatment of a year and a half. During that time, ironically, she chose not to wear a wig.
"It was my choice and I felt comfortable with it," Tolbert said. "I wanted people to know it's okay to be who you are no matter the journey. I do know that cancer affects people in different ways."
The key for Tolbert was to remain positive through her personal experience. She said she tried to remain positive from the outset.
"I was going to beat this," Tolbert said. "It was a hassle and we were going to get through this. When it was over, I just closed the book."
But she did not forget and has worked to help raise fund in the battle, serving as one of the organizers for this year's event. When the moment approached on the stage, there was a hint of nervousness, which gave way to a smile when Johnston raised the ponytail into the air.
"I have been working on it for so long, maybe there was a little anxiety to go with it," Tolbert said. "I will probably wear it short for a while and start over. My hope is that a piece of ponytail is going to help someone else."