By Matt Werner Times Sentinel Writer
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — Laura Yates didn’t cry when her kids shaved her head, but she cried the week before when she got a drastic change in her hairstyle.
Yates was diagnosed with breast cancer three days after Christmas last year and went through four rounds of chemotherapy in the spring. Now, she is cancer-free with a new hairstyle.
“My husband, Matt, had an idea to call my salon to see if they could do some different hairstyles and colors since it would be temporary and not something I would do on my own,” Yates said.
So she called her stylist of four years, Melissa Ingersoll, owner of Allure Salon, about the idea.
“When I first heard about what she was going through, I felt horrible because when it’s somebody so close to you, it just stops you in your tracks,” Ingersoll said. “After I got over that initial shock, we had no problem doing a couple different drastic styles for her.”
Yates went in to the salon with several friends and family members and made a party out of her first cut, going from shoulder-length strawberry blonde to a shorter, curly brunette.
The following week, Yates went back in for an even shorter, red style.
“That was the day that I got teary,” Yates said. “It was harder than getting my head shaved because it was so different for me.”
Ingersoll said they don’t often get to experiment with bold, drastic changes in hair styles, but it is a lot of fun to do.
“We can picture and suggest different styles, but I don’t think we would’ve suggested going as short as she did,” Ingersoll said. “Now we love her hair short. I think she’s much stronger and more confident now because of everything that has happened.”
When the day came for her children, Austin, 9, and Madison, 12, to shave her head, Yates was a little scared.
“I was afraid that I would run into a room by myself and cry my eyes out,” she said. “I didn’t do that. The whole thing was made easier because it was not the hair that defined me that was coming out.”
Yates said choosing to have the different hairstyles gave her more confidence that she would make it through when it came time to have her head shaved.
“It was because my hair was so completely different,” she said. “It was like ‘I can do this’ because I had already looked so different for two weeks before I had it shaved.”
Yates said had it not been for Ingersoll and Allure, seeing her hair fall out would have been much more difficult.
“A woman’s hair is who she is,” Yates said. “If you have a bad hair day, you look bad. A woman’s hair is her glory; that’s who she is.”
Ingersoll saw the change in Yates and felt more women could benefit from having drastic hairstyle changes before losing their hair due to chemotherapy.
“It’s not her hair that’s coming out when it gets shaved,” Ingersoll said. “That is truly the discovery we made because of this. It really eased that transition for her. To be in the shower and see clumps of hair come out is devastating.”
Ingersoll said they will offer the program to any person going through chemotherapy.
“We’ll offer a person two changes, and you’ll get something completely different,” she said. “Even if we can just get one change in just to get that one big, dramatic change. We’ll really make it drastic, different and fun so we can celebrate it and not mourn the loss of your hair. We want to have fun with it and celebrate it so people aren’t as scared about it.”