Mandy Holman doesn’t have any hair, but she says no one should be shy about asking why. She wants to tell people.
Holman’s new look is not for style or to copy a pop star. And it’s not because she’s sick in any way.
This new hair-do is what compassion looks like, compassion for a balding friend whose cancer fighting chemotherapy treatments had made her own hair fall out.
The friend, Crystal Hagan, of New Bern, cried when she first saw Holman after her Feb. 10 head shave.
The two women go to the chemotherapy treatments together, with Hagan usually hidden under a hat or a wig.
But that wasn’t the case at her last treatment.
“She sat through the first chemo appointment ever with her wig off, which was awesome, because nobody has seen her without hair,” Holman said.
Jenny Cruz, owner of Blades and Rayz in Havelock, cut Holman’s hair, which was donated to the organization Locks of Love, which makes wigs for people who have lost their hair.
“I took a zero to it and I looked like Mr. Clean for a while,” Holman said. “It was about as close to skin as you can get.”
Holman, a pharmacy tech at Walmart in Havelock, said hear decision to cut her hair off came easily after Hagan told her that the hardest part of the illness was losing her hair.
“It didn’t take me but five minutes to come home after a heartfelt conversation and lots of tears with her over her battle with cancer and what losing her hair has done to her,” Holman said. “I came home and said ‘I’m shaving my head.’ My family was like, ‘Whoa, Mandy, hit the brakes.’ I’m a rash thinker. I’m a doer. If it comes into my mind, I’m going to do it. And my family said ‘Will you at least give it a month?’”
Holman agreed, figuring it would help them ease into the transition. When the date finally came, Holman quietly went forward with her plan.
Her daughter, shocked at the sight of her mother, said she wouldn’t allow Holman to tuck her in for bed anymore. Her 13-year-old son was equally distressed.
“I told them ‘You know what Mommy had a choice and Crystal didn’t have a choice and there are kids that are your age that don’t have a choice,’” Holman said. “And we got on St. Jude’s website and started looking at kids her age and people she could relate to and reading a little about their stories. After we were done, she said ‘Ok, you can tuck me in.’”
Holman knows her daughter got the message, as she too wanted to shave her head, but her mother put the brakes on that.
Holman said her compassion for other people comes in large part from her association with an old Marine named Carl Barrier, who passed away in 2012 at age 85.
Holman used to prepare meals for the World War II, Korea and Vietnam veteran who was among the earliest stationed at Cherry Point. Barrier repaid her by buying her family a new stove when it broke down.
“Carl would go around in the city of Havelock at Christmas time and we would buy all the X-boxes, all the PlayStations, and all the new gear and all the biggest toys that you could ever imagine and we would go and fill up a cart and we’d check out spending $15,000 at Walmart,” Holman said. “We would go out and give all that away. We’d go out to lunch at Bojangles and the cashier would get an X-Box. That’s what we did.
“The whole time I ever knew Carl, Carl gave. Carl’s bought people cars here in Havelock. There was a lady who had a yard sale for her daughter who had a tumor here in Havelock. Carl wrote here a check for $25,000 and paid for her daughter’s surgery. Carl was incredible. He didn’t live for himself. He lived for other people. At his funeral, there were perhaps 12 people there. That’s when it struck me that I don’t think anybody ever knew his name. He did all these things and I don’t think anybody ever knew who he was.”
Holman has started a page on Facebook called “Carl’s Kindness” to help remember Barrier for his good deeds.
“I wanted people to see his love and his kindness and his compassion through me, because I saw it and I knew it and I’m going to share it with the world,” she said.
Even if that means sharing it one hair at a time.