Life,  Process

Please Don’t Come to My School When You’re Bald, Mommy: Helping Wee Ones Understand Cancer {Slice of Life}

I have two sisters. I am the oldest. And the bossiest, they would tell you. Whatever.  I adore them. More than they will ever know. I adore their children even more. Their respective other halves are pretty awesome, too, but this post isn’t about the adults.  Mostly.

It’s about wee ones. And cancer. And understanding. And strength.

Here goes…..


Recently, just two weeks into #BabySister’s chemotherapy, she sent me a text message that broke my heart. To be clear, there have been many since this journey began, but this one was particularly difficult:


Yes, our sister is a fighter. Her strength is her shield.  She’ll tell you, “She’s Got This” ~ loud.and.clear.  Let there be no doubt.  But sometimes, I believe, being vulnerable is your strength.

As for our niece, she is feisty, indeed.  But… she is five. It’s hard for wee ones to understand.

It’s also hard for us to hear our baby sister’s fear and anger, because we want to protect her. She IS the baby. Even at 34.   Fortunately, she turns fear and anger on their ear and takes back her strength, her determination and… her sense of humor.   Immediately.

In response to her message, I suggested, “We need to get that child a bald Barbie!”

Sister:   lol … They make those?

Me:   Yes!  Aunt Robin will find her one!

So, with a little research, I learned that Mattel didn’t make bald Barbie until a couple of moms took up the cause back in 2012.  Read more {here}.  But, those dolls are only given to cancer patients in hospitals, Mattel stating they “…. don’t want to make any profit from them.”

Noble. {insert sarcasm here} How about giving customers the option to purchase them for little girls whose mommies are going through treatment? What a customer-centric business decision that could be!  Mattel, are you listening??

Turns out, someone else was!  Here’s what who I found instead:

Moxie Doll, Avery
Meet, True Hope Avery!

Perfect!  I promptly had Avery shipped to our niece, and waited….

Before True Hope Avery arrived, mommy had to shave her head. Day 20 of #BabySister’s treatment:

Woman getting her head shaved due to chemo

As you can see, she was channeling all that strength to make this a positive experience … for everyone.  Wee one sat close by, along with her brothers.  There were many pictures taken that night. They are priceless, ones I’ll cherish as long as I live.

Wee one had a few days to adjust to mommy’s new look… apparently.

Avery arrived on their doorstep a few days later. #BabySister videotaped the introduction.  Worried that I had overstepped my boundaries, mommy reassured me it was okay, and showed me wee one’s candid reaction. It is the cutest thing you could imagine seeing. I cry every time I watch it.  And I’m amazed.

I ripped the audio so I could share it, while protecting wee one.  I invite you to click play, close your eyes, and listen to wee one’s response when her mommy asks her what she notices different about Avery….. 

[vimeo 113331896 w=500 h=281]

What’s missing from this list of attributes?

We were stunned!  Not a word about Avery’s beautiful (and very obvious) bald head.

#BabySister:    Is she pretty?

Wee one:    Yea! I love her eyes!

Yes, our niece is five. But she gets it. Beauty is more than hair.

I’m told it was a few hours later when she finally asked, “Hey! Where’s her hair??”

So I ask you, who’s helping whom to understand????

Oh, and as for mommy…. she’s all over town, sporting her new bald noggin… and she is, I’m sure our niece would agree, the most beautiful person ever!!!  I’m pretty sure she’ll turn up at school soon… You’ll recognize mommy and wee one. They’ll be the ones with the super-cute matching hats, scarves…. or, just earrings.  No hat required.   😉

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  • Carrie Rubin

    That’s so heartwarming to listen to. What a wonderful way to show we are so much more than our hair. So sorry to hear about your sister. I wish her well with her treatment and hope the best for her.

  • Dana Murphy

    Robin, I’m so overcome with emotion reading this and listening to your niece. You guys are raising a wise little girl there. And your sister is beautiful. Breathtaking, truly. She’s got this. (So does your niece.)

    • RobinLK

      Thank you, Tara. It’s amazing what we learn about ourselves and our loved ones when things get really tough… this journey is definitely a life lesson for each of us.

    • RobinLK

      Thank you, Lisa. Believe me, it is they who give me strength! And… our other sister, who is strong and helps keep me focused.

    • RobinLK

      Hi Holly,
      Thank you. Yes, I’m a sucker for triumph over adversity stories, too, so I’m glad I can share one from an amazing group of women that I call ‘family.’ They are truly inspiring!

  • ...never ending story

    Hard and happy for me to read…I remember the day, my baby sister threw her wig off so I could see. I cried, because she looked like my bald baby sister. My niece, my sister’s 5th child was a first grader…just went off to college this year and my sister couldn’t be prouder. God taught us so much about living that year. Thank you for sharing. xo

    • RobinLK

      Wow, what an inspiring personal story! Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. My sister looks forward to the day her wee one goes off to college. She talks a lot about the future for all three of her children. I love that.

      When my sister told us she was going to shave her head and she was so scared, I dug through albums and found a picture of me holding her (we’re nearly 14 yrs apart), and that beautiful, bald, baby head of hers. She was the cutest thing *ever* back then… still is. Posted it on Facebook and everyone LOVED it. 😉

  • Clare and Tammy

    She’s got this –all three of you! This is a beautifully written post — I laughed and cried. I was also overwhelmed by your sister’s strength –an important reminder for us all. Thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Glad your baby sister and your niece have you too! I am glad that you found Hope! Sending your positive energy! F cancer indeed!

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