Roxanne Hopkins: Touching more hearts than hair

Great hair doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by appointment. After learning that her mother had colorectal cancer, Roxanne Hopkins, a professional hairdresser, made it her mission to increase awareness around another vital appointment – a colonoscopy.

Roxanne’s mother was diagnosed at the age of 69. Her father experienced a stroke years earlier and lost complete feeling on the entire left side of his body. Roxanne immediately assumed the role of caregiver. The stress of seeing her mother in a vulnerable state coupled with the knowledge that there was now a family history of cancer was a difficult reality. Roxanne did not have health insurance. She needed to work and an outlet to share what she was experiencing.

“I’m a hairdresser so every one of my clients knows about my life,” she says. “I talk about my mom a lot and people know her story. Everyone knows about my mom. Knowing March was coming, I was looking for ways to check myself. I’m approaching 50 pretty quickly. I found the Alliance and received a lot of information.”

She joined the online Facebook group, Blue Hope Nation, to read stories and understand about the disease. “It’s a great resource to ask when there’s trouble moments. People’s stories are fantastic because it’s a lot of what you’re going through as a caregiver.”

Reading online stories and seeing firsthand what her mom went through instilled urgency in her decision to take action. Without insurance she was stuck but knew it was imperative to be screened earlier than the recommended age of fifty. Roxanne filled out the online grant for a colonoscopy through the Colorectal Cancer Alliance website and received her colonoscopy this year.  

Throughout the month of March Roxanne continues to wear blue, even donning a colorectal cancer star on her work apron. She decorated her hair station and purchased fifty blue awareness bracelets to pass out to clients.

The message she shares with clients is spirited with a sense of urgency. “I tell them March is colorectal cancer awareness month. I had mine so get your butt checked! I tell them, don’t wait. Even if you think you have a hemorrhoid go have it checked out. I tell everyone, not every cancer is pink!” The feedback she has received is inspiring. A lot of people say “because of your story, I’m eight years past 50 and getting a colonoscopy.”

Roxanne will continue to spread awareness for colorectal cancer to her clients for as long as she does hair. The response she has for the Alliance and the generosity of Olympus highlights the importance of non-profit and industry partner collaboration. “My gratitude is just unbelievable. The kindness in doing this for people is just so nice. I can’t thank you guys enough. It’s been great.”

During March, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance is partnering with Olympus to schedule and screen fifty people across the nation, in an effort to save lives. In March, we observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Join us as we build our nation of passionate allies, fiercely determined to end this disease within our lifetime.

 

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