When Vera Boggs first heard the idea, she cried.
Five of Boggs’ granddaughters and nieces — Kayla and Carly Jackson, Taylor and Shelby Stamper and Molly Boggs — each would cut 10 inches of their long, blonde manes for her. Their donations would be used to create a custom wig Vera Boggs could use as she undergoes chemotherapy treatment for stage III breast cancer, which was diagnosed in August.
The tears flowed because it made her feel so loved by family members who call her a rock for each of them, Boggs said.
“I was just overwhelmed,” the 69-year-old Columbus resident said.
“She’s the heart of our family,” said 22-year-old granddaughter Kayla Jackson, a cosmetologist who proposed the idea. “We wanted to do something to let her know we support her.”
After Boggs dried her tears, she felt a surge of humor and excitement and exclaimed, “I’m going to be a blonde!”
She always has been a brunette.
Chemotherapy sessions recently began stealing her tresses to the point where she began donning head scarves. But she is resolute about keeping her trust in God as healthy as ever.
“Cancer can take away a lot of things,” Boggs said. “But it can’t take away my faith.”
Without any prodding, she reached for her Bible and turned to Isaiah 43, which she has marked and considers as important as her medicine. The member of Columbus First Church of the Nazarene read it aloud in a strong, determined voice that might make sickness think twice about sticking around:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
“And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.”
She knew the verses well even before her diagnosis. That might help explain her reaction when the oncologist first gave her the news of her condition.
“I didn’t cry,” Boggs said. “I didn’t get angry. I didn’t question, ‘Why me?’ Somehow, God just gave me a peace about it.”
So, is it any wonder, then, why that her granddaughters and nieces admire her immovable belief that God is taking care of her and that they wanted to be a part of that?
“This probably has been the hardest thing any of us ever have had to think about,” Kayla Jackson said.
“It was devastating for me at first,” granddaughter Molly Boggs said.
Taylor and Shelby Stamper, nieces to Vera Boggs, nodded in agreement.
So they wanted Vera Boggs to have a part of them with her. The wig will arrive from a manufacturer in China by early next month. All of the girls’ hair blended well without coloring.
Jackson will trim and style the wig when it arrives. Other family members made financial donations to cover the cost to have it made.
And, as beautiful as relatives expect the woman they affectionately call Nan to look in new tresses, they say that her heart is even more lovely.
She cooks meals for funeral dinners at church. For years, she has whipped up favorite birthday meals annually for her nieces, nephews, grandchildren, you name it. Plus, they all gush over her specialty for them — chocolate gravy over biscuits.
Maybe the only things sweeter have been her hugs that she offers liberally.
“She’s always been very compassionate,” granddaughter Carly Jackson, 16, said.
Vera Boggs said she simply wants others to see God’s love in her, cancer or not. She said she has seen plenty of divine love in her nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
Such as the time they sang “Victory In Jesus” to her her at church on her 68th birthday last year. Or, more recently, when she has been too sick to attend services, they have taken notes during the sermon and come home and relayed the message to her, nearly point by point as a team.
With about a week left in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Hunter Boggs organized a local softball tournament Saturday in his grandmother’s honor and raised more than $4,000 for breast cancer research. Everyone donned pink T-shirts with the inscription, “Nan strong.”
So, clearly, the outpouring has spread far beyond hair.
“You know what I think?” Vera Boggs asked. “I think we’re making more than a wig. I think we’re making memories.”
Another mane way to donate
Few families go through the time, planning and expense of sending their hair off to China so a loved one can have it as cancer patient Vera Boggs’ relatives did.
A well-known alternative is the Florida-based Locks of Love, which provides wigs for patients from 10 inches of donated hair.
Information: 888-896-1588 or locksoflove.org.
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