RICES LANDING – When 7-year-old Jaine Jelinek of Chicago came to visit relatives in Carmichaels this week, the trip had two purposes. In addition to seeing aunts, uncles and cousins, Jaine wanted a haircut. More specifically, she wanted her friend Julia Meese, owner of Temptations Unlimited in Rices Landing, to cut it.
This was to be a special cut and Meese was the only one she trusted. Jaine’s almost waist-length hair was being shortened to shoulder level.
“I would go to the park in Chicago with my mom, and there were kids there who had cancer. We became good friends. And, then we were doing a cancer walk and all the people who wore purple were the cancer survivors,” Jaine said. “I was waiting in line for the bounce house and there were these little kids who had purple shirts on.”
“It really hit her hard. She didn’t know children could get cancer,” said Jaine’s mother, Laura Metcalf Jelinek, a 1982 graduate of Carmichaels Area High School.
The effect on Jaine was compounded by her family’s own connection to cancer. Two years ago, Jainie’s father, Jim, was diagnosed with rectal cancer. Then 5-year-old Jaine understood what was happening and it understandably changed her, Meese said.
Today, with Jim’s last treatment behind them, the old bubbly Jaine is back. While waiting for her haircut, Jaine got the works, including a manicure and pedicure. She was brimming with nervous excitement by the time Meese stood behind her with scissors.
The Jelineks have instilled in Jaine the value in giving back. Laura works for Easter Seals ands Jaine has been involved in Clean and Green efforts, reading to children in hospitals and multiple other service projects.
“She is really an old soul,” Laura said.
Both she and Jim said it wasn’t surprising when Jaine told them she had a plan to help other children.
“I was really bummed about that (her father’s cancer) and by coincidence I saw a way to help kids. I’d been thinking, ‘How can I help kids who have cancer and other medical problems,’ and I saw a brochure in Julie’s shop,” she said.
The brochure is from the Children with Hair Loss program. The program, created by Michigan hairdresser Regina Villemure, provided hair replacement for children with any form of short or long-term medically-related hair loss.
“The reason I became involved with this program is I saw her (Villemure’s) passion,” Meese said.
Several years ago, Meese and her husband were on vacation in Florida. She decided to spend a day volunteering while she was there with the Locks of Love program. Meese said she learned a lot from the experience.
“We don’t just cut this off and that’s it,” she said, referring to Jaine’s hair. Meese outlined multiple steps that are required before hair donations, like Jaine’s, can be used. It takes at least 10 such donations to make one hair replacement possible. Each of these replacements is individualized. From drying the hair to prevent mildew to creating an individualized mold, to tying each strand of hair in a process called wefting, the cost can run as high as $4,000 for a single hair replacement.
Jaine’s hair will be placed in a replacement piece that will not cost the child or their family. She said she plans to repeat the donation four years from now. That is about the amount of time it took to get her hair to the length it was when Meese cut it Wednesday afternoon.
“As a cancer survivor, I think it is amazing what Jaine is doing,” her father said. “I’m very proud of her.”
For more details, visit www.childrenwithhairloss.us or contact Meese at Temptations Unlimited at 724-592-5545.