Whoever said a child couldn’t make a difference? Well whoever it was, they were wrong. Pushmataha County is the proud home of a 8 year-old little girl who is doing amazing things to help support her Great Aunt as she goes through cancer treatments and is also helping to raise cancer awareness.
Aislinn Popejoy, first grader at Antlers Elementary and daughter of Robin & Jason Popejoy and sister to Tyler Popejoy, has been growing her hair out since she was a baby. She had heard about “Locks of Love” and decided that once her hair was long enough to sit on she was going to have it cut and donate the hair to the “Locks of Love” program who makes wigs for cancer patients. But that all changed when she found out that her great aunt, Annice Alcorn, who was like a second grandmother to her, had cancer.
Aislinn asked Annice a lot of questions about her cancer and treatments and knew that she was going to have to go through chemotherapy. After a moment she asked her great aunt if she was going to lose her hair to which Annice replied, “Yes baby.” Aislinn sat there for a moment twirling her hair with a look on her face like she wanted to ask her another question but Annice already knew what it was. Annice asked Aislinn, “Baby, do you want to give me your hair?” and Aislinn said, “Of Course!” and was simply overjoyed.
Annice, being an accomplished seamstress and crafter, decided that the best way she could use her loving niece’s hair would be to sew it to the inside of a hat that she could wear. And the next week, Aislinn told her 1st grade class what she was going to do during show and tell. A week after show and tell, Annice started chemotherapy.
They decided to do another show and tell of Annice’s new hat and Aislinn’s new hair cut. Once the principal was informed of the show and tell, it was decided that she should tell her story in front of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades.
On Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. Aislinn climbed up into a beautician’s chair and the hair began to come off, with an audience made up of her family, her mother and father, her brother and her great aunt and husband, Wayne. Aislinn got her hair cut into a cute little bob by John Duncan of Headlines in Antlers. Sixteen and a half inches was cut off and handed over to Annice. Aislinn giggled when John snipped the first piece, and Robin and Annice teared up.
That evening, after Aislinn’s haircut, Annice’s hair began to fall out, rapidly. Not being able to stand to watch her hair falling out a chunk at a time, she asked Robin if she would shave her head for her. The answer was of course, but Robin didn’t only shave Annice’s head, she also shaved Annice’s husband Wayne’s head.
From the time she got her hair cut, until the reveal on Monday, February 28th (also her mother Robin’s Birthday), her hair had been fixed so that no one could see what her hair looked like. On Monday morning, at 8:30 a.m. Aislinn and her Great Aunt Annice spoke to the students at Antlers Elementary and Aislinn took off her pink hat (which matched the one that her aunt had made with Aislinn’s hair) and a sound of shock went through her peers.
“Every kid can make a difference in someone's life,” Aislinn said. “Cause I did.”
Aislinn has been quite a bit of attention from local media for what she has done for her Aunt. Aislinn has been interviewed on the radio by KDOE 102.3, her story was on the local evening news and her story has been shared with a number of newspapers.
Aislinn’s hair was professionally attached to a decorative pink hat that her aunt can wear to divert attention away from her condition, but most importantly, it will make her feel more confident and beautiful as she goes through all the struggles and emotions that go hand in hand with cancer. Not to mention, it is a wonderful reminder how much she meant to her great niece and the love that is shared between them.
Annice was diagnosed with Endometrial cancer, the same type of cancer that took her mom’s life in 1964, when Annice was around 8 years old. Because of her mother’s death, Annice put off being checked even though symptoms of the cancer had been present for over a year. If she would have been checked out sooner, the doctor may have been able to remove it all surgically instead of Annice having to undergo chemotherapy treatments.
One of the most used phrases in the English language lately is “I don’t have time.” Well, lets all start making time! First Let us all take a moment to look at the story of 8 year-old Aislinn and her great Aunt Annice and apply it to our own lives. how many times have you felt something was wrong but put off going to the doctor to check it out? Who knows, next time it could be too late. No matter who you are, how much money you have or where you come from, we can all make a difference in the life of someone, no matter how old we are.