By Kristine “Aster” Medina, Editor-in-Chief
This woman happened to be Sapphire “Imperia” Liu, a Georgia Institute of Technology alumna.
Liu along with Tracy “Anthem” Wang, University at Albany alumna and national vice president of records, and Wen Jin “Selene” Guo, a Georgia State University alumna, entered Made Man Barbershop in New York City, NY with a purpose on the night of Oct. 2.
The purpose was to show support for Stephenie “Remedi” Lai, a University of Georgia alumna who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) last April, a blood cancer that involves abnormal growth of cells in the lymphatic system.
Lai was approached by Liu three months ago about the head-shaving event. Liu initially planned to support St. Baldrick’s, which focuses on childhood cancer awareness, but after discovering Lai’s diagnosis, she decided instead to dedicate her support to Lai. Although Lai was unable to attend, she was honored by Liu’s act of sacrifice.
“She’s brave,” she said about Liu. “I know hair is a big deal for women, and I was so bummed when mine started falling out from the chemo, so to have her give that up of her own volition was very touching.”
“I also wanted to make sure my show of support was something I could ‘wear on my sleeve’ in a way,” Liu said. “Besides, if she can take all those cancer treatments, then I can definitely shave my head. I think when people put action to words, it also encourages and ‘rallies troops’ to help Stephanie.”
“The amount of crap in this world will always trump the good because it’s just so much easier to make mistakes or for something to go wrong,” she said. “Hence, any little piece of positive action or sentiment should be cherished and brought attention to.”
Liu’s and Lai’s friendship grew at the national convention hosted in Atlanta, GA in 2013, when Lai asked Liu to be the DJ for the banquet.
“When I first met her, I just got a sense that she is a truly sincere individual,” Liu said. “She’s kind, generous and honest because she chooses to be.”
Check out the video of Liu shaving her head in support of Lai and Hodgkin’s lymphoma awareness.
Guo, who photographed Liu getting her new do, has known Lai since fall 2007, when both women were only affiliates of Delta Phi Lambda. She describes Lai as positive, courageous and inspirational.
“Whenever I read her cancer updates, she always has a sense of humor about it, and it makes me wonder…would I be like her if I was in the same situation?” Guo said about Lai. “Definitely not.”
“While she’s undergoing treatments, Stephenie never fails to support her home chapter and even planned our recent national convention despite it all,” she said. “Stephenie doesn’t let cancer define her or stop her from living her life to the fullest, she’s an inspiration to all of us.”
Liu and Guo along with other sisters will be showing support for and donating to Team “Remedy for Remedi,” who will be participating at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Light the Night Walk in Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 10 in Atlanta.
According to LLS, about 761,659 individuals in the U.S. were living with or recovering from lymphoma in 2014, but there’s hope in the fact that the five-year survival rate has more than doubled from 2004 to 2010.
Aside from just raising cancer awareness, Lai suggests that individuals explore other organizations like LLS and keep up with medical legislation crucial to helping cancer patients and caregivers.
“There are so many issues out there that cancer patients are facing from cost of treatment, insurance, physical, mental and emotional issues,” Lai said. “Many people think that once you’re done with cancer, you’re done. But years down the line, I could be facing relapse, a second cancer or other medical conditions caused by the same treatment that is saving me today.”
“The best thing to do is to educate yourself, so you’ll have the answers when the questions come,” she said.
Lai continues to be challenged by the cancer treatments, but she remains fighting because of the support she has from her loved ones and the sisterhood.
“The outpouring of love and support from sisters nationwide has been overwhelming,” she said. “But it has reaffirmed my belief that this Everlasting Sisterhood is truly special, and it knows no bounds. It’s difficult getting up each day. I feel so sick and tired, and I’m always in pain. But having such a large support system all around me really helps me get through it.”
After the barbershop, the three sisters met with Juliet “Escapade” Shen, another Albany alumna and national director of new member services, and Lin “Crave” Mei, another GT alumna, for a sisterhood dinner to cap off the evening.
For more info about LLS, visit www.lls.org.
To donate to Team “Remedy for Remedi” and support awareness for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, go to pages.lightthenight.org/ga/Atlanta15/SLai.
Read Lai’s updates about her life at thebestremedi.com.
Featured Image: Sapphire Liu
Article Images: Sapphire Liu
Featured Video: Sapphire Liu