Tickled pink

Local salon raises money for breast cancer research

Five-year-old Brooke Wheeler beamed at her reflection in the mirror and tossed her bobbed brown hair to reveal a pair of pink streaks.

She’s a little young now to appreciate the significance of breast cancer research, but her stop at Mill Creek’s Elle Marie Hair Studio will help doctors in their quest to eradicate a disease that touches millions of lives every year.

Brooke nodded enthusiastically when asked by stylist and salon co-owner Lorry Green if pink was her favorite color, though it was pretty obvious judging by her Hello Kitty sweatshirt and hot-pink cargo pants.

“I like pink,” she whispered.

Her mother, Tammy Wheeler, cheered from the sidelines.

“You look so cute,” Tammy praised. “I think your friends at school will all want pink extensions too. Don’t you think?”

It’s the second year Elle Marie has participated in Pink Hair for Hope, a national campaign that supports breast cancer research through sales of pink hair extensions. The temporary

The bond can last as long as six weeks, but extensions can be removed at any time for free. The campaign will last through the end of the month, at which time all proceeds will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

“It’s a fun way to show support and raise money for breast cancer research,” Green said. “We all know someone who’s battled breast cancer or lost a family member to breast cancer.”

Assistant manager Hollie Leach is especially proud of the salon’s role in the national fundraiser. She was 17 when her mother, Dorothy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now — 17 years later — the breast cancer’s gone but has since been replaced by colon cancer.

Leach accompanies her mother twice a month for treatment at Swedish Medical Center’s Cancer Institute in Seattle.

“They caught the breast cancer early,” Leach said. “Unfortunately, my mom was 60 when she had her first colonoscopy and the cancer had already metastasized.”

Now Leach takes every opportunity to support cancer research.

“Anything we can do to draw awareness to cancer — to show people fighting cancer that they’re not a lone — is a good investment of our time,” she said. “This fundraiser is fun way to do that. For $10 and five minutes, you can help in the search for a cure.”

So far, the salon has raised upwards of $2,000. An entire soccer team showed up earlier this month, and several more local athletic teams from surrounding schools are expected to visit the salon in the coming days.

“It definitely starts a conversation,” Green said. “Everyone wants to know, ‘Why is your hair pink?'”

While children as young as Brooke won’t fully understand the significance of the fashion statement for another few years, “They’ll know one day that they helped in the fight against breast cancer,” Green said. “This is great way to keep people talking and motivated.”

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