Jailene lost her hair after her third chemotherapy treatment.
In April 2009, Jailene Reyna was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer diagnosed most often in children and young adults. After beginning chemotherapy to treat her illness, Jailene lost all of her hair. In an effort to regain her self-image, Jailene visited the UMGCC Center for Image Renewal with her mom. Her experience there is one she says she will never forget. Read her letter of thanks below.
My journey began in April 2009 when I visited an oral surgeon to have a small mass under my tongue removed. After the mass was removed, the doctor said he had no reason to be alarmed. However, two weeks later, when I arrived home from school, my mom, dad and grandparents were there, too, which seemed very strange. I knew something was different about them, but I never expected anything would be wrong with me.
My mom told me that I needed to have some more tests for the mass that was under my tongue. I said, "Okay, as long as it's not cancer." I never really understood the word cancer until my experience. I just knew if you had it, it was bad.
A few days later, I met with a specialist from the University of Maryland Medical Center. He told me that I would need to have surgery and chemotherapy. He never used the word "cancer," so I still did not understand how serious my illness was. Shortly after that, I visited another doctor who specialized in children's cancer. She told me that I had Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer, and explained the treatment process to me.
The Center for Image Renewal helped Jailene gain renewed self-confidence.
I was so angry when I started chemo because it made me feel so sick. I didn't want to see anyone, even the staff at the doctor's office, although I knew they were just trying to help me. The worst part was, after my third chemo treatment, I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. I just wanted to get away from everyone, especially the oncology center.
After I lost my hair, I wanted to find out how I could improve my appearance, so my mom and I visited the hospital's Center for Image Renewal. I did not know what to expect, but as soon as I walked in, Ms. Paulette and Ms. Sheila made me feel so welcomed and comforted. They helped me with the selection of my wig and took care of maintaining my appearance. I felt better. In a strange way, I felt like I was going to be alright.
Every week for six months I went to the cancer center for chemo, and would stop by the Center for Image Renewal just to say "hello." Sometimes, I was not feeling well after my chemo, but my mom would still take me there because she knew those ladies made me feel special and understood what I was going through.
The ladies at the Center for Image Renewal will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart. They showed me warmth, love and comforted me with encouraging words during and after my chemotherapy treatments.
Jailene enjoys her Make A Wish trip to Hawaii following her cancer treatments.
They brought out the good in going to the hospital with their support. I love them dearly and will always appreciate them. They were a godsend to me and my family during my difficult time, and I know they will continue to help many others during their difficult times as well. Thank you, Ms. Paulette and Ms. Sheila, for all your love and encouragement.
-- Jailene Reyna
The Center for Image Renewal at the University of Maryland Medical Center is staffed full time by professional, licensed aestheticians and cosmetologists with special training in meeting the needs of those undergoing cancer treatment. Boutique manager Paulette Williams is available to speak to outside support groups. The Center is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To make an appointment for a personal consultation or for more information, please call 410-328-9154.