Hairstylist Karen Cadle took out her scissors and Denae Kettle smiled as six years of hair growth was snipped off in a long braid.
The six-year-old is hoping the hair she donated Saturday to the Canadian Cancer Society will be made into a wig to help some other little girl deal with the devastating effects of cancer treatments.
Denae, a kindergarten student at Lac des Bois elementary school, saw a picture on her mom's computer of a young bald cancer patient and asked her mom if she could do something about it.
"The little girl doesn't have any hair, so I wanted her to have mine," said Denae.
Cadle lost her own mother, Sara Barrett, to cancer nearly two years ago, when he died at age 60, six months after she was diagnosed. Last week, Cadle heard through a mutual friend that Samantha Kettle, Denae's mother, was looking for a stylist to donate her services for the haircut. Cadle was happy to oblige, knowing how much the wig program helps cancer patients deal with the emotional effects of losing their hair.
"She just wants her hair to make somebody feel better," said Cadle, before she sat Denae down, propped up a high stool. "It helps kids feel better, it helps women feel better, it's a big thing for women.
"My mom bought three wigs when she went to Vancouver but she preferred to wear hats. She loved being bald. She said the worst thing was the two-year-old she watched get put to sleep every morning to get radiation."
Also on hand for the haircut was Denae's aunt, who once had breast cancer, and Cadle's friend Sandy Hamilton, who learned on Valentine's Day her tests revealed she's cancer-free.
"I'm going to Vancouver for my follow-up on Monday but they say I'm clear," said Hamilton. "The CAT scan showed no cancer. I'm still in denial.
"When you see a little girl like this, it hits you, it's very inspiring, it's good news."
Hamilton was not alone in fighting back tears as she watched Denae's hair cut to collar length at the Tabor Boulevard Pharmasave drugstore
Hamilton said she felt healthy right up until the day she was diagnosed, which added to the shock of being told she had cancer. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in early November and was in Vancouver for eight weeks of treatments.
"It's devastating, especially when you see a child with cancer," Hamilton said. "I saw a lady with a four-year-old who was eight months pregnant, fighting cancer, and on my bad days I'd think of her. There's always somebody worse than you, and that's what got me through my treatments."