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Turlock woman celebrates being cancer free with haircut
locks for love
Blown Away stylist Kelly Oates gives Mary Alquist a haircut to celebrate Alquist being five years cancer free. The hair will be donated to the Locks of Love program. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

Mary Alquist’s world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2004, and later diagnosed with skin cancer as well.

“It was a difficult time in my life,” said Alquist.  “It was an indescribable painful feeling, and seeing my family suffer as a result of my illness was just as painful.”

Alquist was able to fight the disease through multiple surgeries and a round of chemotherapy.  She made a promise to herself that if she stayed cancer-free for five years, she would donate her hair for the second time to Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

“The first time I donated my hair to Locks of Love was 25 years ago,” said Alquist.  “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and seeing her lose her set of hair impacted me in many ways.  After I donated my hair the first time I felt inspired to do it again.  When I beat the cancer I made a commitment to myself that if I stayed cancer free for five years I would do it.  It’s been five years, so it’s time to cut it off. ”

Alquist fulfilled that promise on Friday when she had Blown Away Salon and Spa stylist Kelly Oates cut off at least six inches from her golden locks. She hopes to be a role model for other women and encourages them to donate their hair to the Locks of Love program.

As Alquist donated her hair for the last time, she hopes to close a chapter in her life.

“This will be the last time that I will be donating my hair,” said Alquist.  “It serves as closure and hopefully living the last years of my life cancer-free.”