April 23, 2008


I've been thinking about this post all week while planting my garden. I didn't quite know how to approach it so I'm just going to let the story tell itself. Please take the time to read this. It made my heart melt and I'm sure it will melt yours also.
I'll begin by telling you that Jamie Lee and I have been friends since we were 15 years old. We sang in choir together. I'll also tell you that I pushed his truck out of huge snow bank when we were 17 years old while he sat behind the wheel laughing hysterically! He's been one of two guys that probably saved my life during my high school years and I consider him my brother. Maybe not by blood, but surely by love, history, care, and protection. He's a piece of work, let-me-tell-yah.
From here, I will post this recent article that CHI published, featuring my dear Bro along with the letter that was sent to CHI by one of his clients. Jamie and his client have been generous enough to send me a copy of the original letter. It says it all......
Here is their story.....
Jamie Lee has been there for me for so many years, through so many of life’s ups and downs, but his care, expertise and love got me through one of life’s biggest hurdles possible. The hurdle I speak of was the day that arrived on "May Day! May Day!" - May 1st, 1996. On this unforgettable day, I found out the reason I was losing feeling in my left side of my face when I turned it. It was because I had a slow growing, rare tumor. My family and I searched the nation for doctors who could remove the tumor. My tumor was behind the left eye, in the carotid sinus cavity, with the carotid artery running right through the center of my tumor, and many other nerves wrapped around it. Our search led us to Johns Hopkins, the one hospital that could do my surgery and leave me as ME. My surgery was July 30, 1996 and they took only the hair on the left side of my head, where the surgery took place. Knowing all the hair is usually shaved before brain surgery, Jamie immediately went into action. He told us how, if needed, he would have a wig made for me so nobody would know I had surgery. He said he knew how to create a wig that would look exactly like my hair, and he would show me how to care for it. Returning to Jamie in Madison, he saw my half a head of hair and simply said "They did about the worst haircut I’ve seen! They should never be hair stylists!" Instead of doing what so many other hair stylists do and shave off the other half of hair, he worked with the hair I had left. He also used deep conditioners and other products to heal the damaged hair. I was thrilled and relieved not to need a wig. Besides that, I ended up looking better than ever! When I returned to college less than a month after surgery, instead of having people staring at me giving me those "oh poor you" looks, I was complimented on how awesome my hair looked. Instead, people thought instead of wearing my hair up like I always had, I was wearing my hair down. What Jamie did was bring some of the hair I have on the right side of my head over on the left side where I had no hair. When I returned for my first appointment back at Johns Hopkins, all the doctors were stunned at my hair. They informed us usually the patient returns with a shaved head, even though the doctors left hair. The doctors leave as much hair as possible as they know how much it helps the patient to not stand out with their hair screaming out, "I had brain surgery". They sent huge kudos to Jamie, asking if he could do all the patients’ hair! It’s so important to make the patient look as normal as possible as nobody wants to be stared at. Many patients who do not have someone like Jaime ever get their hair back. While my hair slowly grew back, Jamie was there for me; caring and not feeling I was not going to make it. He kept making the changes needed with whatever hair I had, helping me appear normal. Besides that, he always had humor for me and my family by getting us laughing, while always caring. He never quit on me. He always was there for me and I was the best looking brain surgery patient. He smiled with each person who never could tell I had surgery and radiation. His presence and help gave me so much hope and inspiration each time I brushed my hair in the morning. He’d keep helping. People may say it is just hair, but they obviously have not been through such a life changing event, knowing how many others looked afterwards. This really showed in my mind at my last appointment at Hopkins when I saw two patients coming for their appointments with their shaved hair and their scars so easy to see. I could see how the stares hurt them. I remembered and could see how nobody could see mine and I appreciated Jamie even more. Jamie even went so far since my surgery to be careful with the seven bolts I have in my head by making sure he did not hit them with the brush or scissors and letting me know how feeling these bolts show how much fluid my body needs. He even had much humor about this. It has been over eleven years since my brain surgery and expressing how much Jamie has given us is hard. He’s changed my life by making sure I have a life while my life is being saved. Looking normal and changing your hair as needed, teaching you what to do and leaving you with a hug after each appointment means more than I can state. Jamie is more than my hair stylist; he’s been my confidant, my comedian, my teacher and my friend. To that, all I can say is thank you. God sure has blessed me with a new life after my tumor and with Jamie. These are my blessings.
Now, is that an amazing story or what? I'd say that's what the word "artist" is all about!
So here's to you Jamie Lee! To one of the kindest people to ever walk the earth and ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE ARTISTS I ADMIRE!
With MUCH gratitude, your sis Laurie


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"All images and content of Laurie Beggin's Glass Musings and Through The Looking Glass © 2007 Laurie Beggin, unless otherwise noted."