When Roxann Whitebean was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at age 30, one of her biggest fears going into chemotherapy was losing her hair.
It wasn’t an issue of vanity, but because hair holds cultural significance in her Mohawk culture.
“Hair is a symbol of strength and honour, and it’s our style of choice to have it very long,” said Whitebean, a filmmaker and mother of four from Kahnawake, Que. “It symbolizes someone who’s whole.”
“I grew up as a traditional woman within my community … and I always felt that if I were to ever get sick, that I would just undergo traditional medicine and not western,” said Whitebean.
“For years I went to the doctors and said I think there’s a problem, I found a lump in my breast, and they would tell me that I was too young,” said Whitebean.
Instead, Whitebean choose to strike a balance