4th grader donates hair to freshman battling cancer

Pollok Central 4th grader donates hair to freshman battling cancer
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 11:20 AM EDT
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POLLOCK, Texas (KTRE/Gray News) – A fourth grader in Texas donated her hair to a high school freshman when she learned the teen had been diagnosed with cancer.

Rylee Brooks was starting her freshman year and had just made the varsity basketball team when she started feeling pain in her lower abdomen.

“I was playing basketball for fall league when I started cramping really bad, and during practice, I got hit really hard in my stomach and from there everything just went downhill,” Rylee said.

The pain continued, and her mother believed it was her appendix. She was taken to the hospital for scans, and they were told it was a ruptured cyst, but the pain persisted.

Rylee knew something was wrong and wanted to be looked at further.

“I went and got an ultrasound and there was a big tumor, I think 17 centimeters,” she said.

After more testing, Rylee was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma and Sertoli-Leydig.

She first had surgery to remove the tumor and other spots and began chemo and radiation treatments. During the treatments, Rylee lost all her hair.

Fourth grader Hadassah Schroeder heard about Rylee’s journey through her mother who teaches at her high school.

Hadassah decided she wanted to cut off her hair and donate it to Rylee to make a wig.

“I went to Great Clips and went in there and I cut off I think about 15 inches,” Hadassah said.

Melissa Benjamin Shepherd, owner of Hair Kiss Studio in Lufkin, has made Brooks two wigs already. She will be making this one as well.

“I was really amazed that a little girl would think so much of another person that’s going through what she is going through, and to be so selfless to chop 15 inches of hair to donate to someone,” Shepherd said.

Hadassah said this experience taught her she wants to continue doing this for other people.

“I really wanted to do something for someone,” she said.

“I was just like wow, someone did that for me and I just appreciate it a lot,” Rylee said, touched by the gesture.

Rylee has completed her first round of chemo and has completed radiation.

She will continue the last round of chemo every three weeks throughout the summer, and it will end in September right before fall basketball starts.