March 3, 2015
Tracy Brock wasn’t nervous as her fellow registered nurse, Mary Jo Clark, approached her shoulder-length hair with a buzzing set of hair clippers.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Clark asked.
“It’s only hair, it grows back,” was Brock’s reply.
Clark shaved Brock’s blond locks Friday, March 13, after patient procedures were complete in the Clinic's Ambulatory Surgery Center in Marshfield.
Why? It was Brock’s idea and she wanted to show her support for Clark as she battles a second round of breast cancer.
Clark was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009. She underwent treatment and was in remission for five years. The cancer returned in August and Clark is undergoing chemotherapy to stave off cancer again.
Clark was on vacation in late February in Florida as chemotherapy caused her hair to fall out. She asked her daughter to shave her head to even out her remaining hair.
“You have to take charge of the situation,” Clark said. “It’s vanity versus health.”
Clark was the first non-patient close to Brock who battled cancer. She was stunned at Clark’s strength, her drive to be at work every day, never letting cancer defeat her mood or stop her from helping patients.
“Mary Jo is an amazing person,” Brock said. “She’s fought this low blow not once, but twice now and she still comes to work with a smile on her face. Shaving my hair is the least I can do.”
Clark wears a hat most days to cover her head. She appreciates her co-workers who often cover late shifts when chemotherapy saps too much of her strength to work.
“The wonderful support system I have here at the Clinic makes this so much more tolerable,” Clark said.
Clark was surprised when Brock told her about the plans to shave her head. Brock had never done this before. Co-workers asked Brock throughout the day if she was nervous, but she wasn’t rattled.
When the time came, about 20 people watched, including Brock’s husband and three children. Her young son said she looked like a boy afterward, while one of her daughters couldn’t bear to watch as the hair piled up on the floor. Brock said it was important for her children to see what she was doing.
“There are two things I want my children to learn from this,” Brock said. “Hair doesn’t define you as a beautiful woman and you can always find a way to support someone.”
The hair was swept up and thrown away. Clark kept her hair after it was shaved during both of her cancer bouts.
“I burn the hair in a big bonfire when I’m in remission,” Clark said with a big smile on her face.
The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education in more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.