NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. Treatment can take over your life. And there is the hair loss, which can be devastating.
But that wasn’t the case for one Queens woman, who says losing her lush curly hair changed her outlook for the better.
“I feel blessed to be on this path. Away from breast cancer, but able to help other women who need it the most,” Sonya Keshwani told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.
Beautiful inside and out, Keshwani sat down with Murdock on her two-year “chemoversary” to share her story.
“Getting diagnosed was a major, major shock,” she said.
She was just 29 at the time, with no family history of breast cancer.
“It felt dehumanizing to me to have to go to all these doctor appointments — more doctor appointments in one week than in my whole life,” she said.
With cancer trying to take control of her life, she decided she was going to control the hair loss that comes with chemo. She made an appointment at a salon to shave her head with her family by her side.
“I think the first time I saw my true self, my authentic self was when I didn’t have the hair, when I was looking at my bare face in the mirror,” she said.
Keshwani lived in Washington, D.C. at the time, but the treatment she wanted was home in New York City. While traveling back and forth, she quickly realized wearing a wig wasn’t for her.
She started exploring fabric and sewing beautiful head wraps.
“Oh my gosh, I might have created something that is going to change the way I feel about this whole experience,” she said.
Wearing one empowered her. She started having friends over again and going to the movies.
“I was able to dress more confidently and comfortable,” she said.
She said it’s not just a fashion accessory, but a tool to thrive through hair loss.
Now, she’s helping other women do the same. A year ago, she started Style Esteem.
For each head wrap sold, one is donated.
“The way you see yourself… during that journey… is such a powerful tool to make it through your journey,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be missing because you can’t afford it.”
With each sale of a sparkling pink wrap, called Komen Together for a Cure, 20% goes to Komen Greater NYC.
Keshwani knows her dollars and time go to support services like free scan vans, and that means more patients will be on the path to a healthy, happy tomorrow.
“Do what makes you feel happy. Do what makes you feel proud of yourself,” she said.
Celebrating its 30th year, the Susan G. Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure takes place virtually starting Saturday September 12th. For more information, click here.