Portales teen shaves head to support cancer-stricken relative

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

A 16-year-old Portales girl went bald for the love of her great-grandmother undergoing chemotherapy.

About a month ago, Portales High School sophomore Mercedes Reynolds shaved her head to show support for her great-grandmother, Louise Reynolds of Binghamton, N.Y., and all other cancer patients.

Mercedes’ mother, Stephanie Reynolds, said Louise, 72, was diagnosed with lung cancer two days before New Year’s Day. When Louise was upset about the prospect of losing her hair to chemotherapy, Mercedes promised that when it happened, she would shave off her shoulder-length hair.

Mercedes said she researches a lot of diseases and cancer interested her.

“And I didn’t want my grandmother to feel like she had to go through it alone,” she continued.

Louise raised Stephanie and helped bring up Mercedes. The three speak on the phone once or twice a week.

Stephanie said her daughter cherished her hair, and Louise was so touched by the gesture that she cried.

“I admire her for it, because I don’t know very many 16-year-old girls willing to go bald for anybody, to be honest,” Stephanie said of her daughter. “And I think she showed a lot of love and support.”

Stephanie said when her daughter was 4 or 5 years old, she spent her allowance on get-well gifts for Louise’s best friend, who had cancer.

“She’d give what she can to other people, instead of focusing on just herself,” Stephanie said.

Mercedes said her friends were supportive of her clean-shaven look.

“My best friend, she thought it was really great to have a bald friend,” Mercedes said, adding that she doesn’t care when people stare at her.

Mercedes’ friend, Amanda Montoya, also a PHS sophomore, approves of the choice.

“She has guts and everything. She stands out,” Amanda said.

Louise underwent surgery to remove part of her lung Monday morning. Stephanie said she was on a ventilator and the next 24 to 48 hours were critical to determining whether she would recover.

Mercedes said she would keep her head shaved as long as her great-grandmother wanted her to.

“When her hair comes back, I guess I can let mine grow back,” Mercedes said.