The Kindest Cut

Courtesy Katie Cueva

Katie Cueva recalls how, as a child, she was amazed when her great-grandmother performed what seemed like a magic trick—pulling her hair off her head with one swift movement. It was actually a wig, worn by Big Granny to cover the loss of her hair to chemotherapy treatments. Lymphoma eventually claimed her life.

So when Cueva heard about a program to donate hair for cancer patients, she put her own long pigtails into play. Last summer Cueva, ’05, lopped off her locks and became Alaska’s “Hometown Ambassador” during the launch of Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths, which aims to supply human-hair wigs for cancer sufferers.

Cueva turned her haircut into a publicity event, and photos of her newly shorn look appeared in newspapers, on television and in classrooms throughout the state.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among Alaskans. “I feel like my story, and the stories of others affected by cancer, are the most compelling motivations to do what we can for those with cancer,” Cueva says.