Most cancer survivors say that losing your hair is one of the most difficult transitions to deal with after a diagnosis. For kids undergoing chemotherapy, this shock can be especially traumatizing. Which is why an Alaskan mother’s sweet idea makes so much sense.
Holly Christensen, a former oncology nurse and 31-year-old mother of three, first thought of the idea when she decided to make a Rapunzel yarn wig for Lily, a friend’s almost 3-year-old daughter who was diagnosed with lymphoma last year. As Christensen explains to Babble, her motivation in making the yarn wig was about far more than just fun:
“I knew she would be going through a difficult time, and that no one would be able to take her suffering away. I also knew that losing her long, curly blonde hair at not even 3 years old would be difficult for her, so I figured that the yarn wig could help bring a little magic and fun to a difficult time in her life.”
Lily loved the wig immediately — it was fun to dress up with, and it was soft and comfortable enough to cover her tender scalp. The Magic Yarn Project’s GoFundMe page notes that yarn wigs are especially important for this reason, because chemotherapy can leave patients’ bare scalps too sensitive for traditional wigs. Magic Yarn volunteers use special “baby” yarn that is extra soft to crochet into beanies and then transform into storybook wigs.
Christensen says her first yarn wig made Lily “feel like the beautiful princess she is” with long, beautiful hair, even while undergoing treatment.
With the help of her partner Bree Hitchcock, Christensen’s project was born: The Magic Yarn Project makes princess yarn wigs for children all over the country who are battling cancer. Christensen’s friends at church started to participate, and with a little help from Facebook, the project quickly gained attention. Christensen says she’s been contacted by hundreds of interested donors and volunteers around the world.
Since the grassroots project is in its early stages, Christensen is relying on donations and volunteers to help make the wigs. Thanks to an outpouring of support, the first Magic Yarn workshop made more than 40 princess yarn wigs at an estimated total investment cost of $650. All wigs are given free of charge to recipient families in hospitals around the country, and a second workshop is planned for mid-November. Donations are used to cover yarn supplies and shipping costs.
The latest Magic Yarn recipient was Mack, who just received her new Ariel yarn wig last week:
Not only is Christensen’s idea brilliant, but she’s showing us exactly what it looks like to reach out during a challenging time. For most of us, hearing a heartbreaking story about a child with cancer is just that — heartbreaking, and it seems like there’s nothing we can do about it. But Christensen appears to see the bigger picture as the inspiration for her growing project. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. We may not be able to cure a disease that affects close to 16,000 kids each year, but we can go out of our way to make a child happy (and more comfortable) as they prepare to fight for their life.
The Magic Yarn Project is currently accepting donations through its official GoFundMe Page to raise money in order to create more wig-making workshops in local communities. Christensen says:
“The mission of The Magic Yarn Project is to create beautiful and soft princess yarn wigs for little girls with cancer and to encourage and facilitate volunteerism by involving communities nationwide in this project. We are so excited to see where this takes us and look forward to bringing light and magic to an otherwise very difficult time in the lives of little cancer fighters.”