Rosemary Hunter wanted to do something special for her 66th birthday, something that would be her gift to others.
Armed with that desire, the Sampson Regional pediatric nurse, along with a few of her close friends, headed downtown Clinton to Bill’s Beauty Shop where Hunter offered up 12 inches of her black and gray tresses, a sacrifice so cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy would have an opportunity at wigs designed just for them.
Sitting high in the beauty shop chair, Hunter grinned at her friends who snapped away with digital cameras, trying to capture every moment as stylist Rose Soto worked to first wash her hair and then snip away at the long locks.
“Look this way,” “come on, smile,” “we are so proud,” were all echoed among the women gathered to cheer Hunter on as she waited for Soto to cut off one gathered strand and then another.
Hunter and her friends are all members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Clinton and the gathered ladies said they came downtown Wednesday to share in Hunter’s birthday wish.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful what’s she doing,” said Sandy Weikert, aiming her digital camera once more at Soto and Hunter. Weikert is a cancer survivor and noted that Hunter, too, had been touched by the disease, having lost family members to cancer.
“She’s a special lady, and what’s she’s doing is special,” chimed in Sister Maxine Tancraitor, a cancer survivor herself.
Sister Theresine Gildea agreed. “It’s a great day, and what’s she’s doing is great.”
Hunter smiled shyly as Soto combed out her hair in preparation for the snips.
“The last time I had a significant hair cut was in 2008,” Hunter attested. Another nurse at the hospital, Heidi Jackson, was going to do it, and I thought my hair was long enough, so I decided why not do something for someone else.
“Cancer has really impacted my family. I lost my father and three brothers to cancer. I’ve been the lucky one, so I figured I should give back some of the blessings I’ve been given. And here I am.”
Hair washed, scissors in hand, Soto spun Hunter around to face her friends — and the cameras — sectioned off her tresses and then carefully begin to cut, the birthday girl smiling brighter with each snip, her friends cheering softly beside her.
“This was a way for me to give back. It’s a great way to start your birthday,” the 66-year-old said.