Published: November 10, 2023
IONIA, MI – A Sparrow Ionia Hospital caregiver has selflessly shaved her head bald to honor the memory of an oncology patient that sadly passed away recently.
This week, patient access specialist Lisa Tompkins allowed several Sparrow caregivers and oncology patients to cut off pieces of her hair, which was nearly down to her waist. As a final step, Tomkins’ aunt, a nurse at Sparrow Ionia Hospital, shaved her head completely as she held back tears.
Our community hospitals allow caregivers to create unique and close connections with our patients while providing compassionate and reliable support throughout their cancer journey, especially when battling the side effects that can accompany chemotherapy treatments, such as hair loss.
Oncology patient Jessica Fritz cutting Lisa’s hair.
“She had lost all her beautiful hair due to the treatments,” said Tompkins. “One day, she walked in and as we connected eyes, I could feel her pain. I felt a deep connection.”
Tompkins later promised to honor the patient by shaving her own head for all those who have lost hair due to cancer.
“I want cancer patients to know that with or without hair, they are beautiful. I want to encourage those cancer patients to have the courage and bravery to fight through the process of losing their hair. Life is short, so live it to the best you can and if you make a promise, mean it,” Tompkins said.
Sparrow Ionia Hospital patient access specialist Lisa Tompkins getting her head shaved by her aunt and Sparrow Ionia Hospital nurse, Nancy Prebble.
Sparrow Ionia Hospital patient access specialist Lisa Tompkins gets her first look at her shaved head.
Because the cuts of hair are different lengths, Tompkins is unable to donate her hair. However, she says it’s a privilege to stand in solidarity with so many of our patients.
Sparrow Ionia Infusion and Chemotherapy Center offers oncology diagnostics, chemotherapy, hematology, drug therapies and more for our patients and is part of the award-winning Sparrow Herbert-Herman Cancer Center. To learn more about compassionate cancer care close to home, visit Sparrow.org/Cancer.
Sparrow is Mid-Michigan’s premier healthcare organization and includes hospitals in Lansing, Carson City, Charlotte, Ionia and St. John, as well as Sparrow Specialty Hospital, Sparrow Care Network, Sparrow Medical Group, the Michigan Athletic Club, and AL!VE. Sparrow is part of University of Michigan Health. Through the dedication of our 10,000 caregivers, Sparrow pursues a vision to be nationally recognized as a leader in quality and patient experience. For more information, visit Sparrow.org.