Reclaiming confidence

After experiencing an unthinkable trauma, Alyssa Spade, receptionist, Parkview Cancer Institute, learned that turning turmoil into an opportunity for generosity is one of the fastest ways to move past fear. We invited Alyssa to share her unforgettable story of pain and healing.

I started in nursing school, and it just wasn’t for me. My grandma was a hairstylist for 50 years, so I grew up in her shop and I looked up to her. In 2015, I decided to go to Ravenscroft Beauty College, and I loved it. I only had one week left when the shooting happened.

It was June 5, 2017. Around 6 o’clock, we took our break. My friend and I were in a booth having dinner. This guy was outside and he wanted to talk to my friend, but she didn’t want to. Suddenly, he came in and started shooting. It was so fast. He was so close I could feel the heat off of the gun.

He went to reload and I saw my friend get up, but I was frozen. When I looked down in the seat next to me I saw that there was blood and that’s when it hit me. He looked at me and I thought I was going to die. He went after my friend, and I got up and ran outside. That’s when I started to feel pain, which seemed to be in my back. The police hid me until it was clear inside and took me to an ambulance, where they told me I’d been shot. My adrenaline had been so strong. 

I had 40 hours of school left to complete, but it took me about a month and a half to go back. I was terrified, and battling anxiety and depression, as well as nightmares. Eventually, I did graduate and get my license, and I’m so proud of that. I worked in a salon for eight months, but I just couldn’t do it. I was always having flashbacks. So, I started just doing friends’ and family members’ hair on the side.

My mom works with Dr. Sharma, so he’s a good family friend and was very supportive. I started on the second floor of the Parkview Cancer Institute in May 2018. When Dr. Sharma’s mother-in-law, Pam, was diagnosed with cancer, he asked me if I’d be comfortable styling her wig and helping her find one she was comfortable in. I was honored, because I know that was a hard time for them, with her losing her hair, and having that fear.

We tried on a lot of wigs! She was blonde before losing her hair, but loved the way the dark hair looked on her. We got to have fun with it. 

I held it together while she was there, but after, I was very emotional. It meant a lot – seeing her smile, seeing her husband smile. It was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done with my cosmetology training.

It reminded me of my grandma. She had breast cancer and lost her hair when I was around 8 years old, and I remember experimenting with her wigs. I loved styling hair, and it meant so much to be with Grandma during her cancer journey. 

I would love to help again, so I plan to take the necessary steps to volunteer. This is something I can do to help people out, and make them feel confident again. 

A fund to help others heal 

In an effort to support those facing challenges in their cancer journey, the Parkview Foundation established the Transformative Cancer Care Fund (TCCF) to help support the expenses required to bridge the gap in providing the highest quality holistic and personalized care.

This endowment fund will provide much-needed resources for those who are underinsured or do not have insurance and will cover services like:

  • Continuous patient education
  • Genetic testing
  • Wigs and wig styling
  • Assistance with nutrition education and supplies

You can make a donation to the Transformative Cancer Care Fund here or by mailing a check to Parkview Foundation, 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46845.

 

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