Dunlap mom uses fairy-tale to help cope during cancer battle
April Lewis has always had a fascination with Alice in Wonderland. You can see her love for the fairy tale by the elaborate tattoos on her arm.
“I like Alice in Wonderland because it’s like getting away from reality. Reality is not always fun and you can make your own fun when you take yourself to another world,” said Lewis.
When she opened her hair salon, Hairitage, three years ago in Dunlap, she knew exactly how she wanted to decorate the business, in an Alice in Wonderland motif.
“I love watching their faces when they walk in for the first time because their eyes light up. They get real wide, they look around and they’re just in amazement of everything,” said Lewis.
Lewis says the fantasy land is an escape for her clients.
“They need to feel good about themselves and also during that time, it’s like a little therapy session. They feel like they can open up to me and talk to me about what’s bothering them and I can respond back. I feel like I can help people in more than just doing their hair,” said Lewis.
Eventually, April would be the one who needed an escape and someone to talk to.
Last June, the 39-year-old single mom of two daughters discovered a lump in her breast. She had no family history and no reason to believe she had breast cancer but she immediately went to the doctor. The news wasn’t good.
"It was very fast. It came into my world like a hurricane,” said Lewis.
She did have breast cancer and it was spreading. “It was advancing very quickly. From the time I found it until they confirmed it was cancer it was about two inches so I was stage three,” Lewis told Channel 3.
The diagnosis was followed by multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Lewis’ community embraced her and provided meals and helped with bills.
Her coworker and longtime friend, Brandy Pigg, stepped up to help keep the salon going.
“She’s handled this whole situation with such courage and grace. I am not a hundred percent positive that I could do it,” Pigg told Channel 3.
April posts routinely on her dedicated Facebook page to document her journey and help her daughters understand what was happening inside her body.
Her story has raised awareness about breast cancer in younger women and because of her, many women have gone in for mammograms.
“If you get some bad news, it’s OK to be upset but how you handle it can make all of the difference in the outcome,” said Lewis.
Her positive attitude is inspiring. She’s hoping to put breast cancer behind her, a real-life fairy tale ending.