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Breast cancer treatments mean adjustments for Beech Island woman

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It is just not like Megan Smith to do something without a little style.

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Megan Smith's 4-year-old son, Lucas, shows the results of his mother's haircut.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Megan Smith's 4-year-old son, Lucas, shows the results of his mother's haircut.

She sat in a chair at South­ern Glamour Beauty Salon in Jackson, while owner Lisa Holley sized her up. The 26-year-old Smith had her first chemotherapy for breast cancer about two weeks ago and it is time for the hair to come off.

“I woke up at 4 o’clock this morning feeling like someone had just yanked on it,” Megan said, clutching the left side of her blond head. Her friend, Nichole Glover, was on a phone flipping through a celebrity Web site showing actresses who had to shave their heads for a role. She flipped through Charlize Theron, Demi Moore and Sigourney Weaver looking for inspiration.

“Are you ready?” Holley asked Smith.

Smith looked over at her 4-year-old twins, Lexi and Lucas, who were sitting together watching a movie on a phone.

“See Mommy’s hair go bye-bye,” Smith said cheerfully.

The children are glued to the screen.

“They’re watching Rap­unzel,” in the movie Tangled, said her mother, Cyn­thia Rollins.

Slowly, in hunks, the hair begins to fall to the floor.

“Is this sore on your head? Is it bothering you?” Holley asked.

“Not really,” Smith said, touching the left side.

She is feeling much better now but right after her first chemo treatment at Augusta Oncology Associates it was a different story.

“That night it started hitting me,” Smith said. “I was not expecting it to hit me that soon.”

The terrible nausea forced her to keep taking her medications every few hours, alternating one then another. She was feeling “very drained” and anemic as she stayed at her mother’s house and her husband, Jason, looked after the children with help from grandparents and others.

Luckily the family lives close to each other in Beech Island. There are also family friends, Trisha Loveday, an oncology nurse, and Louise Limehouse, a breast cancer survivor, who will pick up the children and take them to do things such as visit the horses.

“My kids are just falling in love with them,” Smith said.

For now, the twins sit in the beauty salon as their mother’s hair slowly piles up around the chair in thick tufts. Lexi has been up and down about the hair loss, which Smith has tried to prepare her children for, along with the sickness from the chemo.

“Lexi was really upset,” Smith said. “She said, ‘It needs to grow back.’ But then Lexi came back with, ‘Know what, Mommy? I don’t care if your hair falls out.’ ”

As she trims down
and down, Holley is very positive.

“Megan, your head is shaped so nice,” she said. Lexi looks up and gives her mother a smile.

“Do I look funny?” Smith asks. Lexi smiles.

“Megan, this is going to look so good,” Holley said.

Lucas stares at his mother.

“What do you think, Lu­cas?” Rollins asks.

“I think not,” Lucas said.

“You don’t have a choice, buddy,” she tells him.

The children get up and walk toward the chair, looking at the drifts of hair around it.

“You want to keep some of it?” Smith asks them.

Lucas bends down and grabs a big fistful.

“I’m going to get this much,” he said.

“You look beautiful, I’m not kidding,” Holley said, admiring her work, which is short but not a crewcut.

“I don’t want you to look like me,” Lucas said.

“Megan, when this is all over, I don’t know if you should ever grow your hair out,” Holley said, and Smith laughs.

“Jason would have a cow,” she said.

There are five more chemotherapy sessions ahead for her, then radiation, then some breast reconstruction. Despite the sickness and the fatigue, she hopes to go back to work as a nurse at Doctors Hospital soon, possibly this week.

As she sat in the infusion room, waiting for the first drugs to drip into her, she flipped to some favorite Bible verses, some from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which contains Smith’s favorite Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

It is what comforts her through the nausea and the sleepless nights and fatigue and pain.

“He has never failed me before and he never will,” Smith said. “He won’t bring you to it if he is not going to bring you through it. Maybe he is going to use me in some way to touch somebody’s life.”

FOLLOW MEGAN SMITH’S STORY

The Augusta Chronicle plans to continue to follow the progress of Megan Smith through the rest of her treatment and will revisit her story in October 2012 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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