Free-for-All Friday: An Update on Ja’Naya…and Her Hair

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I initially planned to rant in this post about something that recently ticked me off, then decided my time and energy would be better spent giving you an update on Miss Ja’Naya and her treatment. Everyone was SO supportive when she was first diagnosed with leukemia back in January, which almost seems like a lifetime ago. The least I can do is let you know how she’s doing. And I’ll begin with a photo:


Ja’Naya’s hair held on for 6 long months of chemo, and we finally had to cut it last weekend after it started to thin noticeably, creating large bald spots between her twists. Months ago, I was prepared for the hair loss to be a traumatic experience. Yet again though, my 4-year-old proved that her spirit is bigger than anything that can happen to her.

We had talked about it — losing her hair. And in true Ja’Naya fashion, she said to me, simply, “Mommy, it’ll grow back.” Like it was no big deal.

Because, apparently, it’s really no big deal.

To demonstrate just how small of a deal it is, here’s Ja’Naya with her big brothers while we were doing some thrift store shopping. This photo perfectly illustrates each of their personalities:


Still, given that I was the one tasked with cutting off of her twists, I admit I had to hold back some tears. But she’s just happy we can now go to the pool whenever we want without having to spend 4 hours afterward washing, then detangling, then combing, her hair. Simple as that.

And while we now have to deal with the inevitable stares from strangers, as long as my princess is still happy-go-lucky about everything, there’s no reason I shouldn’t feel the same way.

And in a side note about all this, a good friend of mine, Renee Ross of Cutie Booty Cakes, recently announced that she will be running in the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco on October 17th. What does this have to do with anything? Well, she’ll be running in Ja’Naya’s honor! The event will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Renee has a fund-raising goal of $4000. I started things off with a donation of my own, so please, click here to donate and help her reach her goal!

NOTE: A friend and fellow Elevenmom, Jenn from Frugal Upstate, originally started a chip-in campaign Ja’Naya was diagnosed. The original donation page had expired, but I’ve had people express interest in still being able to help, so this links to the new ChipIn page. Feel free to donate if you feel so inclined. You can go directly to the chip-in page if you would like, or donate via the Green Your Decor support page. Know that your support would help us out tremendously, and we would be forever grateful to you for it.

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22 comments… add one
  • Avatar Melanie June 11, 2010, 9:43 am

    Ja’Naya is soooo stunningly beautiful…thank you for this post…I have a 4 year old and I hate doing her hair and I complain every time, thank you so much for giving me a quick kick up the you know what…there’s so much more in life to be thankful for rather than finding the things you hate. I’m proud of Ja’Naya response about her hair…what a blessed little girl.

    • Avatar jennae June 11, 2010, 10:07 am

      Melanie, don’t feel bad 🙂 Trust me when I tell you that “hair days” were not my favorite either, because Ja’Naya had so much that it was always an hours-long process. But I began to gain a little perspective once I realized she might not have all that hair for much longer. Still, I’m just happy that she has handled it all so well.

  • Avatar Carrie June 11, 2010, 9:52 am

    i’ve got lymphoma and losing my hair has been the hardest part for me. looks like ja’naya is dealing with it a lot better than i did – i would absolutely not let anyone take a photo of my bald head. i finished my 6 months of chemo about 3 and a half weeks ago and my hair has just filled in enough that i started going without a hat this week.

    • Avatar jennae June 11, 2010, 10:09 am

      @Carrie I have always marveled at how well kids adapt to situations like this, when I know that I likely would feel exactly as you do were I in your situation. I also know some older kids who had an equally hard time with it. Ja’Naya’s attitude about it is definitely a reflection of her general personality. She has handled everything well, and I realize that makes us blessed in a lot of ways.

      I’m just happy that you’re doing well, and I’m sure you’re more beautiful than you give yourself credit for — with or without hair 🙂

  • Avatar Rachelh June 11, 2010, 11:23 am

    Ja’Naya has an outer beauty that obviously matches her inner one. What an awesome and amazing kid!

    And man, just look at her with her brothers! Love that hand on the hip! Bet she doesn’t take anything from anyone of them. lol

  • Avatar CraftyRachel June 11, 2010, 1:00 pm

    Ja’Naya is just so beautiful. Thanks to both you and her for sharing her story and her positive outlook!

  • Avatar kelli June 11, 2010, 3:59 pm

    She looks ADORABLE without hair! SERIOUSLY! Super cute!

  • Avatar Lynn June 11, 2010, 4:31 pm

    What a beautiful little girl–obviously inside and out. Her composure is such a lesson. She obviously lights up a room with or without hair.

    I can only imagine how hard cutting it off was for you. I’m sorry you have to go through this.

    Do you know the poet Mary Oliver? When I saw this picture and read this today I thought of her poem that starts,

    “Make of your life a light, said the Buddha before he died.”

    You are making a light of your lives.

  • Avatar alison June 11, 2010, 4:49 pm

    thanks for sharing…what an inspiration your daughter is!

  • Avatar Condo Blues June 11, 2010, 5:58 pm

    The first thing that struck me about Ja’Naya\’s photo is how stunningly beautiful she is and her smile! Then her multicolored toes – very festive. She\’s such a resilient spirit – like her mom. Hugs to you both.

  • Avatar Oonafey @ Little Pink Houses June 11, 2010, 6:17 pm

    I can not believe how much she looks like you, she’s like you Mini Me! So precious. I am incredibly thrilled to hear things are going well.

  • Avatar Marilyn G Russell June 11, 2010, 6:47 pm

    Hi Jennae, what a beautiful and brave little girl (is she your daughter)…nevertheless, she’s gorgeous. My mother lost her hair during chemo too and she was totally fine with it. She really looked good sporting her bald do. But for me, it was so hard just knowing that the baldness was not by choice. Hang in there and remain her rock!


  • Avatar Elizabeth June 11, 2010, 6:50 pm

    What a wonderful spirit your daughter has! She’s so very inspirational, and I’m glad for her that she is seeing the brightness in all of it.

  • Avatar Naomi June 11, 2010, 7:36 pm

    Kids are so blessedly resilient. Your kids are gorgeous and obviously very supportive. This will pass. It will grow back.

  • Avatar Blue Artichoke Interiors June 12, 2010, 1:30 am

    Hi Jannae! I passed along an Honest Scrap blog award to you! Just wanted you to know.

  • Avatar Jenny June 12, 2010, 7:08 pm

    Praying for you guys!

    She is a cutie. I’m another fan of her toenails!

  • Avatar Jasmine June 13, 2010, 12:03 pm

    You’re daughter is beautiful! In that first picture she looks like a gorgeous and wise person. It’s a terrible reason for her to have to lose her hair, but she does look just as beautiful without it. She sounds like such a strong individual. I know I could not go through what she is with so much grace.

  • Avatar Melissa June 18, 2010, 9:08 pm

    If strangers are staring, it must be because she’s so incredibly beautiful.

    No kidding. I’ve never been here before – followed a link from YoungHouseLove, and, while I don’t usually comment, I HAD to here. As soon as I scrolled down, I gasped at her picture because she’s so so pretty.

  • Avatar kristen fountain davis | kfd designs June 19, 2010, 7:10 am

    what a cutie – she is beautiful! good luck with your journey, and thanks for sharing…i will be saying prayers for you guys!

  • Avatar Tanya M. June 20, 2010, 1:17 am

    I’m a new reader (from Young House Love) and I am thoroughly enjoying your blog! I especially like how you list why something is green and have an energy saving mode when I’ve been away from the desk. I had to stop going through the archives, though, to say that your daughter is absolutely gorgeous — even without hair — and I think that I have a lot to learn from her. I hope her treatment is speeding along to a perfect outcome!

  • Avatar Claudia September 3, 2010, 9:40 am

    Your little girl is beautiful – and I have to say that the \"no hair\" cut makes her look so stylish! 🙂
    Wishing you all the best! A big hug to you all -oh and her room is just FABULOUS!!!!! 🙂

  • Avatar DNA July 12, 2012, 12:56 am

    Beautiful children! Wow… How do we, as parents, hold onto the wonderful spirit of NOW… my son has 24/7 medical needs and I get so worried sometimes about his future that I forget to experience the amazing-ness of NOW… It is truly amazing and takes my breath away when I connect to the present moment – the absolute best place to be…. Ja’Naya takes my breath away!

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