ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Justice Garcia lives in Socorro. She lost all of her hair during chemo, after she was diagnosed with leukemia at 20 months old. After years of growing it back, now she’s cutting it off. Her family took her for a haircut this week in Albuquerque, but it wasn’t just an ordinary trip to the salon.
This haircut is a family affair five years in the making for Geraldine Jones and her young daughters, Justice and Bianca Garcia. The three have been growing out their hair for years, cutting around 12 inches off each. It’s a milestone after life-changing news.
“Back in 2014, she was 20 months old and diagnosed with AML leukemia,” said Jones. “They told us six sessions for her. We were there for 10 months.”
Around 10 months later, in October 2014, Justice was officially cancer-free. Since then, the family has waited for Justice’s hair to grow back.
“In October of 2014, she was released from the hospital, and here we are today, 2019, five years almost to the day,” said Jones. “We have decided we want to cut our hair in honor of her cancer-free remission.”
They came up with the plan pretty early on to have their hair cut together. Jones says there was only one person for the job.
“We decided this early on and we wanted Bernadette,” said Jones. “She was in the hospital with us with her daughter, battling leukemia as well. We decided on her doing it just because of the memories we shared together as a family.”
“I got goosebumps,” Bernadette quickly replied, while cutting Bianca’s hair.
With each snip of the scissors is a release, leaving the cancer in the past and moving forward with new looks and a new beginning. Jones says it’s a relief to move forward.
“It was kind of a relief of, it’s all done and over with. Not her haircut, but just cancer-free remission,” said Jones. “It was just letting it go, finally, and I hope I can be at peace, mentally, emotionally, just hoping this will never happen to her again.”
Jones says having a child with cancer requires parents with strong faith, giving advice for any other families in the middle of their cancer journey.
“Just hang in there. There’s no day-by-day. It’s basically second-by-second, and be patient and have faith, and believe that your child will overcome this,” said Jones. “To any family that’s going through this, it’s doable, it’s possible. The love for your child is endless, and, like I say, just have faith and believe.”
As the family hopes and prays for a bright future, they’re also paying it forward. They are sending the 36 inches of hair cut off between the three of them to non-profit Wigs For Kids, helping other families in the fight they know all too well.
“We’re going to get home and mail these braids off and can’t wait until someone gets a wig and enjoys their love for hair that they’ve been missing,” said Jones.
Wigs For Kids differs a bit from other hair donation non-profits. They’re designed to be a little more durable for kids, withstanding everything from swimming and gymnastics to playgrounds and sleepovers.