Medical assistant shaves head for Locks of Love

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locksoflove_Sandy.JPGBy Erica Quiroz, MD Anderson Staff Writer

Once Sandy Flores heard that Houston radio station KKHH-Hot 95.7 wanted listeners to donate their hair to Locks of Love, she jumped at the chance.

Flores donated the required amount of eight to ten inches of her hair on June 8, and was one of 15 people who took it a step further and shaved their heads.

"To me it seemed like the right thing to do," Flores says. "I see a lot of cancer patients come and go. Hair grows; mine will come back and it's not a big deal to me."

Flores is a medical assistant in the Mohs and Dermasurgery Unit, part of MD Anderson's Department of Dermatology. She says she felt like she had to donate her hair after working with cancer patients for the past five years.

"Working at Mohs, I often tell patients, 'I'm sorry you have skin cancer but when you leave, you won't have it there anymore,'" Flores says.  "That's a good experience for me because if I can make people smile, I've made their day and they've made mine."

Flores says she didn't tell anyone but a co-worker, who went with her, that she was going to shave her head.

"I wasn't scared of what my family would say," Flores says. "I just wanted to surprise them."

Buzz cut a sign of solidarity
When she's working, Flores wears a colorful surgery cap, not because she's ashamed of her new look, but because she says patients are concerned about her health instead of their own after they see her new buzz cut.

"The patients that I see on a regular basis have asked me if I'm OK once they see my new hair cut.  After I reassure them that I am, I tell them what I did and why," Flores says. "If I don't wear it, I have to tell more people that I'm OK, even though they're not."

Flores says she's received more positive feedback than she expected and encourages others to donate their hair if they can.

"For some people, it takes longer for their hair to grow back, she says.  "If their hair can help make half a wig or a full wig, then they should do it."

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