Sgt. Dee Wooley of the Frankfort Fire Department was all smiles while a stylist ran a razor up and down her head.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing a double mastectomy, and starting chemotherapy all in the last few months, getting her head shaved wasn’t a big deal.
“Hair isn’t everything – bald is beautiful,” Wooley said to the firefighters and friends gathered around her at the West Second Street fire station Thursday, waiting for their turns in the chair.
About 25 officials from Frankfort Police and the Frankfort, Franklin County and Winchester fire departments walked away with bald heads to show support for Wooley in her fight against breast cancer.
“I came to Frankfort (Fire Department) 11 years ago and didn’t know but two people … and look at the support I have now,” Wooley said, pointing to her friends and colleagues.
“This is my fire family.”
Wooley was diagnosed with breast cancer in February and started chemotherapy last week.
She recently came back to work after undergoing a double mastectomy in February, and Capt. John Redfern said he wanted to do something to let Wooley know he and the other firefighters had her back.
With Wooley just beginning her chemotherapy, she told Redfern she wanted to shave her head, so he sent out a few emails earlier this week to see if anyone else was willing to go under the razor.
For many of her colleagues, the decision to go bald was a no-brainer.
“I wouldn’t think anything differently,” said Brad Gold, Wooley’s battalion chief. “We take good care of our own.”
For some of the guys, it was also an excuse to cool their heads.
“It’s really nice to do this before the summertime,” Gold said.
“Yeah, this wouldn’t be nearly as fun in January,” Redfern added with a laugh.
Jay Bates, a stylist from Salon J, provided the free haircuts, and Pic-Pac donated hot dogs and hamburgers.
Perhaps her biggest supporter Thursday was Winchester firefighter and Wooley’s partner and caregiver, Cathy Rigney, who was second in line to get her head shaved.
“We’re Twinkies now,” Rigney said as the two rubbed their bald heads together.
Since Wooley was first diagnosed, Rigney said her partner has managed to maintain a positive attitude.
Wooley’s cancer was discovered after she went for a mammogram in January to get a cyst on her shoulder checked. A week later, the doctors told her she had breast cancer and suggested a double mastectomy.
But Wooley and Rigney had already made plans to go on a cruise that month. They still went on the vacation, which Wooley nicknamed the “Bon Voyage to Boobies” cruise, in honor of her impending surgery.
“She’s got such a strong attitude,” Rigney said. “She says that’s the only thing she can be.”
The doctors told Wooley the double mastectomy took out all the cancer cells, but they’re putting her on chemotherapy as a precaution. Wooley said the doctors told her that her type of cancer tends to reoccur.
But if she was worried, Wooley didn’t show it Thursday. She beamed as she watched firefighter after firefighter go bald.
“She’s impressive,” Redfern said. “This has been something that would have devastated a lot of people, but she’s never lost her upbeat personality.”
Dee Wooley will participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Lexington this October. To donate to her team, go to http://www.komenlexington.org/komen-race-for-the-cure/donate/ and click “Donate to a Participant or Team,” then enter Dee’s name or “Team Dee."