Cutting loose: Haircut for a hospice patient
Post Independent Staff
This is the second in a series following Marcia Haberman and her family in their experiences with Roaring Fork Hospice. The first story appeared in Sunday’s edition.
BATTLEMENT MESA ” It’s Friday morning and inside the Haberman house in Battlement Mesa, the girls are talking hairstyles.
For more than 32 years, Roaring Fork Hospice patient Marcia Haberman, 70, has had a long, long braid down her back, gathered at the nape of her neck with a hair tie, and again, at the end.
“No muss, no fuss,” says Marcia of her attitude towards her hair.
But because of Marcia’s cancer, she tires easily, and it’s getting more and more difficult for her to wash her hair.
She’s talked with hospice staff about what to do. One option is to cut Marcia’s hair into an easy, manageable style.
So now, Marcia is sitting in her black leather recliner, going through a pile of hairstyle books. She’s put bright pink little Post-It notes on the pages with haircuts she likes.
“I don’t know,” she says, grimacing and shaking her head.
‘What we’re here for’
Gathered around Marcia are her daughter, Suz Hutchinson of Grand Junction, and Roaring Fork Hospice nurse Patti Miely.
Sean Jeung, the public relations and volunteer coordinator at Roaring Fork Hospice, has arranged for Tianna White, a hairstylist from Sublime Salon in Carbondale, to come to the Habermans’ house, too.
“That’s what we’re here for,” says Sean. “Whatever needs the patients and their family and friends have, we try to fill.”
Tianna has brought a bag with her scissors, a comb and some gel.
“I’ve brought my scissors, but I don’t have to use them,” Tianna says to Marcia. “We’re going to do whatever you want today.”
Patti is sitting on the floor at Marcia’s feet. She has a picture of herself from the 1970s she brought for Marcia.
“See?” Patti says. “I had hair as long as yours once.” Patti’s hair is now just to her shoulders.
But Marcia doesn’t seem entirely convinced about all this haircutting business.
“Which one did you like?” she calls out to her husband, Chuck Haberman, of the hairstyles in the books. Chuck is avoiding the girl scene by escaping to a nearby room.
He emerges and points to a head shot of a woman with a sporty short haircut. Everyone agrees that’s the cut for Marcia, only without all the blow-drying and hair spray.
“Can you make Marcia look like Jaclyn Smith?” he jokes, smiling.
“This is worse than getting cancer!” says Marcia, laughing. “It’s just hair. What am I so worried about? I’m scared to death!”
Patti reaches out and holds her hand.
Locks of Love
Right when it doesn’t look like Marcia’s going to go for the haircut, she makes the big decision.
“OK, let’s do it, dear,” she says to Tianna, who volunteered her time and services for Marcia.
As Patti helps Marcia move from the recliner to a wheelchair, Suz helps Tianna lay down a big white sheet on the floor.
“Don’t you want a mirror so you can see what’s going on?” Patti asks Marcia.
Suz locates a mirror in a back closet. It’s one of those electric beauty mirrors that lights up. Marcia isn’t into that kind of vanity, so it’s been tucked away and has to be hauled out for the big event.
With everyone in position, Tianna takes Marcia’s thick braid in one hand, her scissors in the other.
“Here we go,” Tianna says quietly.
The only sound in the room is that of thousands of strands of hair being cut at one time.
“Oh, that sounds terrible,” says Marcia.
But in a flash, it’s done, and Tianna holds up Marcia’s beautiful long braid.
“It looks like I’ve been scalped!” says Marcia, faintly smiling, looking at her newly freed braid, her hair now chin length.
Marcia has decided to donate her braid to a nonprofit organization called Locks of Love, which makes wigs for sick children from donated hair.
“I think they may get two wigs out of all of your hair,” says Tianna.
“Oh, that’s wonderful, dear,” Marcia says.
It takes Tianna about an hour to finish cutting Marcia’s hair. Marcia wants an easy style, with the hair off her face.
Marcia is surprised at how happy she is with her new cut.
“I’m very glad I did this,” she says.
Suz, whose blond hair is just as long as her mother’s was earlier this morning, is getting inspired.
“I want to cut my hair now!” she says. “You look beautiful.”
All the excitement has made Marcia pretty tired.
“I think you’re ready for a nice nap,” says Patti. “Before that, I want to do a little exam.”
In Marcia’s bedroom, Patti kneels next to the hospital bed hospice has provided the Habermans. She props a pillow behind Marcia while Marcia fiddles with the controls, getting into a comfortable angle.
The two talk quietly about how Marcia is feeling, and about any concerns Marcia has. Patti goes from holding Marcia’s hand to touching her on the arm gently.
“I just love your haircut,” says Patti. “I love it.”
“Thank you, dear,” says Marcia.
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
In the United States, the first modern hospice was established in 1974. Now, more than 3,000 hospice programs exist in the country.
Roaring Fork Hospice is affiliated with Valley View Hospital. It provides medical care, primarily focused on the patient’s comfort and symptom control.
For information, contact Roaring Fork Hospice at 1906 Blake Ave., 945-3434, or visit http://www.vvh.org, go to “outpatient care” and click on “Roaring Fork Hospice.”
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