I have always been deeply inspired by a marathoner’s ability to fully immerse themselves in a capstone of their own, while simultaneously devoting themselves to a greater cause. The trials and tribulations of reaching my personal goal in running a marathon seemed miniscule when Lolly’s fight and legacy were held in close proximity. I had the pleasure of meeting Lolly early in my University of Michigan experience, as she was one of my closest friend’s step mom. The first night the Toll family visited Ann Arbor they took us out to Palio, a popular restaurant located on Main Street… I had the privilege of sitting next to Lolly and Papa (Steve) Toll. After talking to this wonderful family for one night, I knew this was a friendship that would last a lifetime. They were always so supportive of my goals to attend medical school and helped me through some rough patches along the way to getting there. I will never forget the day after I was accepted to medical school, I received an email from Papa Toll that said, “I am really happy for you and Lolly would be so excited for you as well. She probably would already have sent you something…” This put a smile on my face because I knew that Lolly would always be a special person in my life.
Lolly was a beautiful soul, someone who seldom saw a negative side in anything. She lived her life with optimistic perseverance during a time that most people fear. This was evident when she came to our graduation ceremony. Lolly had a big smile on her face the entire time, reveling with all for their accomplishments and future endeavors. A caring and generous person, she was someone who I came to profoundly admire. Unfortunately, less than a year after that graduation ceremony, in March 2012, cancer took her body away, yet her life and soul will always live forever. I am lacing up in Lolly’s memory.
Specifically, I am running for Lolly’s Locks, nonprofit organization, that Lolly’s family founded to provide cancer patients in need with high-quality wigs. The idea for Lolly’s Locks was born out of Lolly’s own experience as a cancer patient: when she went to purchase a wig in anticipation of losing her hair as a consequence of chemotherapy, Lolly was shocked and outraged to learn that quality wigs that are undetectable and comfortable, can cost thousands of dollars, and are often barely or not at all covered by insurance. This means that such a wig, which Lolly saw as not a luxury, but as a key to her quality of life as a cancer patient, is out of reach for many cancer patients who face hair loss as a side-effect of treatment.
Many women going through this horrible disease experience self-consciousness due to the loss of hair as a result of chemotherapy treatment. Many women feel that their hair is integrally connected to their sense of beauty of femininity, and, like Lolly, believe that looking good is connected to feeling well. Furthermore, many women report that walking around with a bald head or a telltale scarf exposes them as a cancer patient during a time when they most relish their privacy.
A high-quality wig gave Lolly a sense of dignity and normalcy when normal was nowhere to be found during a time of the unknown future. Despite the cancer infesting their bodies and the chemotherapy taking their hair, these wigs make women feel human again, unyielding to the adversities their situations have given them. A wig for a woman who has lost their hair during a battle for life is priceless, and the last thing these women should have to worry about during the hardships they endure, is the cost of something that can keep a smile on their face and a steadfast will to survive. I’m lacing up for Lolly and every woman who is battling cancer. Let them experience normalcy. Cancer will not win.