Michigan daughter donates hair to mom diagnosed with terminal cancer

Posted at 1:46 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 15:18:03-05

(WXYZ) — There’s something special about the bond between a mother and daughter.

“She’s my best friend and I would do anything in the world for her,” said Marybeth Kersey.

So, when Marybeth first found out her mother, Lynn Hier, had been diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer nearly 10 years ago, Marybeth said she made a decision to cut off her hair and donate it to her mother.

“I originally wanted to cut my hair and make it into a wig for her and she told me I couldn’t,” said Marybeth. “I was about 21 and in college so I listened.”

Lynn said Marybeth has always looked for ways to be there for her friends and her family.

"She is very giving and loving and compassionate," said Lynn of her daughter.

Lynn, who was working as a full-time registered nurse, entered remission after about a year of chemotherapy and three months of radiation, however the pair made an agreement: Marybeth would grow her hair out for 10 years until her mom hit the “cured" point in remission.

But that 10-year remission milestone never arrived, unfortunately. Late last year, Lynn pushed for an MRI of her breast after she noticed it had changed. That's when Lynn said doctors discovered cancer in her chest wall and her neck. She said she was classified immediately as Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

Photos courtesy Marybeth Kersey

“She was diagnosed about a month . . . before my wedding,” said Marybeth.

Lynn said the treatment is an awful process and for her, one of the more difficult side effects of the journey is losing her hair.

"For some women, it's losing their eyebrows, for some women it's the disfiguration of the breasts . . . for me, it was the hair," said Lynn.

After her wedding, Marybeth chopped off a foot of her hair and went on the hunt to find someone who could make a custom wig for her mother out of her own locks.

Photos courtesy Marybeth Kersey

“To make custom wigs out of your own hair . . . it’s a whole long thing,” said Marybeth.

She finally found someone in California who was up to the task, and two weeks ago, the custom wig arrived at Lynn’s home.

“I had this beautiful thick gorgeous head of hair, always have,” said Marybeth. “Mom never did . . . and so growing up, mom would do my hair just like every mother does and it would be, ‘Marybeth, I wish I had your hair’ . . . I heard it my whole life . . . and now she has my hair.”

Photos courtesy Marybeth Kersey

“It's amazing. The minute I put it on, I was like, 'I feel like myself again'," said Lynn.

Being two hours apart with Marybeth in Charlotte and Lynn in East China, the wig has made the pair feel closer.

"I was, of course, very touched," said Lynn. "We have a very honest, open relationship, so she said, 'mom, if and when you die, I'll be with you.'"

Lynn said she started the chemotherapy about five months ago and that it has shrunk the cancer considerably. Her initial prognosis was 1 to 3 years, but Lynn said she is "very hopeful it's going to be much longer" because it was caught early before the cancer had spread to her organs or bones.

Marybeth said her mother has given her so much in this life and she’s happy to be able to provide some level of comfort during this difficult time.

“The woman has devoted her whole life to me as a daughter, so it’s the least I could do to make her feel comfortable and . . . I wish I could do more,” said Marybeth.

Lynn said the gesture — and, of course, her daughter — have changed her life.

"I don't know how to thank her for such a selfless act of love," said Lynn.