Emma’s Haircut

One hundred and seventy eight thousand women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States.  Of these, approximately three thousand eight hundred  are between ages of 20 and 34.  Many of these women are parenting young children.   Emma’s Hair Cut is a story of one such woman.

Emma is  thirty-two years old.  She has two children.  Alex is 22 months old and Peter is 3 years old.  Not only does Emma face not only her own suffering and mortality, she is tormented by the process of explaining her illness to her children and to safeguard their  mental and emotional health.

In October 2008, Emma is diagnosed with breast cancer.  In November she has a double mastectomy.  The mass was on her left side but there were three areas of interest in her right breast that did not reveal anything through MRI but Emma decided “I’m not going to live with something there that’s growing.  So take them both off.”  The mastectomy takes place and she is now confronted with the first challenge in the care of her children.  Her armpits and shoulders are incredibly swollen, stiff and sore.  How can she explain that she is no longer able to carry them, hug them and allow them to jump into her arms.

Emma will receive her first treatment in the outpatient clinic, and if all goes well she will receive chemotherapy each day her first week.  Within one week, she will begin losing her hair.

The oncologist warns Emma that within one week her hair will fall out. She tells Emma about another patient who had a shaving party and the kinds helped.  “I don’t want them to wake up and have a bald mom,” she cried, “not telling them will scare them.”

With hair falling out in clumps, Emma and Bill buy pumpkins as models to decorate hats for Emma’s bald head.  But wearing caps is not Emma’s  only solution.  This film is their story – it’s the story that documents Emma’s’ Hair Cut.