By Rachel Belle
For a lot of people, losing their hair is one of the toughest parts about going through chemo.
“I think of almost all the things I endured during the diagnosis and the surgery and the treatment, losing my hair was the hardest,” says breast cancer survivor Susie Craig. “I had really think, long, dark hair and I just couldn’t imagine myself bald. It was very very difficult.”
When Craig was diagnosed with breast cancer at Overlake Hospital, she was given a pamphlet about the Good Wishes program, a non-profit that gives silk head scarves to cancer patients. It was started, almost by accident, five years ago by Laurie Erickson in North Bend.
“I run a fashion accessory company and one of our loyal followers wrote me and said ‘I’m a follower of your brand’ and she said ‘I’ve lost all my hair due to chemo therapy and do you have anything for me?’ And I was just dumbfounded because the answer was ‘No.’ So I wrote to her and I asked her to go on our website and look at all of our silks. So we figured out a silk that she wanted and we made her a scarf and we made her a card and everyone on our staff signed the card. I really believe in the power of positive thought and I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we touched her in that way?’ So, we had a staff meeting and we had a moment of silence for her and it was really very touching.”
They sent the scarf out to the woman, her name is Hilary, and she was really touched.
“She used the scarf during her chemotherapy treatments,” Erickson says. “She said she almost used it like a comfort blanket. So, overtime, I told her if you run into anybody or meet anybody along the way, we’re happy to send them a scarf.”
From there, Erickson was inspired and Good Wishes was born. Everyone in her office ,of about 30 employees, participates daily in the non-profit. She has now sent more than 8,000 scarves to people who have lost their hair.
“Mine’s bright pink on one side, it’s a silk,” says Craig. “On the other side it has kind of peacock colors on it. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”
For Susie the scarf represents more than just a head covering. I asked her why not just go out and buy a silk head scarf.
“I think for me, the card and knowing that there are lots of people who you don’t even know who are rooting for you behind the scenes. On those days or evenings, those nights, when you’re by yourself in your own thoughts and you’re thinking ‘Who’s out there thinking for me, praying for me, supporting me?’ They become one of a really solid group of people who are out there, I hope, for all cancer survivors. It’s just uplifting. It’s hard to describe with words.”
It’s also been life changing for Laurie who went from just running an accessories company to bringing some comfort to people around the world.
“A mother wrote to us and her three year old son was diagnosed with leukemia and so she wanted a wrap for him. We don’t work with children’s fabrics so we found out what he loves and he loves trains so we went out and got some train fabric to make him a wrap. And then his mother asked if she could have a wrap as well so she could share in his fight with him. That’s a really sad story, but a really encouraging story, knowing that this mom could share that with her son.”
Funny enough, doing a good deed is not always so easy. Laurie said hospitals were initially resistant to taking her scarves.
“They thought we were trying to sell them something and were like ‘No, it’s free! We really just want to provide them for free!’ And it was really difficult to have this ability to give, and know there’s a need, but you need a bridge.”
And for Erickson, her bridge ended up being Chris Rock’s wife!
If you know someone who would like a scarf, please click here to apply for one. Laurie says they have about 100 prints to choose from along with another 75 solid colors.