For the second time in her life, Oak Bay’s Molly Sullivan is fighting cancer.
The first time, she was a 16-year-old in the oncology ward of B.C. Children’s Hospital with the rare diagnosis of aplastic anaemia (treated similar to leukemia, the body doesn’t produce enough blood cells). It was 1990 and she benefited from a successful bone marrow transplant which was still a relatively new procedure.
The brutal reality of this life returned in April of this year when Sullivan was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She had surgery five weeks ago and is now recovering.
Finding out she has cancer again was “not great,” to put it succinctly. For now, she can build on the relative success of the surgery as she starts chemotherapy and radiation this week. The mom of two teenage boys is off work as a senior business expertise manager for Service Canada for at least the next six months.
“I am quite fortunate to have had 29 years free,” Sullivan said. “Having had it before, there is an increased risk of cancer recurring.”
Knowing she’s going lose her hair, Sullivan pre-emptively cut it off on Monday in lengths long enough to donate to Wigs For Kids B.C. Sullivan also started a fundraiser for Wigs For Kids, an initiative through B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation, having already raised $760 of her $1,000 goal on Wednesday.
Cutting her hair off on Monday wasn’t fun but in between the tears, it was as good as can be expected, she said.
The reason she’s doing it is to provide wigs for the next girl who has to lose her hair, just as Sullivan did when she was a teen.
Back then there was no Wigs For Kids program and she was unable to buy one due to the expense, she said.
“It’s oddly traumatizing for a girl or young woman to lose their hair,” Sullivan said.
“The nurses told me I would lose my hair but as a teenager, I didn’t believe it, I was in denial. Then it kind of melted out of my head, bit by bit, until I cut the rest off.”
It still costs about $2,000 to put a wig together, which is why Sullivan is involved with Wigs For Kids B.C.
“It’s not just hair that they need but also money to help put the wigs together.”
Residents of Oak Bay might also know Sullivan for her volunteer time helping with the Oak Bay Band Parents Association. She does communications for the Oak Bay High School Band and is the social media coordinator for Oak Bay Choir and Carnarvon Ball Club.
Because of her social media experience and current diagnosis, Sullivan is also an admin for the @thewombtangclan on Instagram. The womb tang clan is an awareness site for young women with endometrial cancer.
“It’s very difficult to screen for so work is underway to create additional awareness,” Sullivan said.
Wigs For Kids B.C. helps provide wigs to young cancer patients, in addition to assisting with other costs. Sullivan set up a pledge drive to support Wigs For Kids and is asking the community for support, whether its $5 to for W4K, a pledge drive, or even an extreme haircut of your own.
To donate to Molly Sullivan’s Wigs For Kids campaign visit this story online at Oakbaynews.com.