When 17-year-old Kate Pepper, of Texas, learned the brain cancer she beat four years ago returned in June, she decided to document her emotional journey. During her radiation and chemotherapy treatment, Pepper noticed her hair began falling out, so she opted to wear a wig that gave her some sense of normalcy. After choosing a turquoise wig, Kate was back to her confident self, until she was ordered by school officials to remove her wig because it violated school rules.
Administrators at her McKinney ISD school said the color of the wig broke the rules, which state only natural hair colors are allowed. In a letter pleading with the school, Kate explained what the wig means to her in this very fragile stage of her treatment, reported Newsweek.
“I lost a large amount of hair, and I felt as if a big part of me is missing,” Pepper wrote. “I know hair isn't the most important thing in the world but, it brings me to a sad and hard realization I'm truly going through cancer.”
Pepper went on to explain how the wig made her feel.
“After a few days of us looking I was able to hide my baldness and show my strength with a two tone turquoise and black wig that symbolizes confidence, integrity and power, to help me weather through the storm,” she wrote. “These past two days that I've been in school teachers and students alike have complimented me on my ‘hair,’ saying how they love the color and how I rock it.”
Kate asked for the school to make a single exception in her case.
“I know there are rules and there are always exceptions, I'm asking for the sake of my sanity please allow this to be one. I'm empowered by wearing this wig although it's subtle in color it gives me an abundance of strength and power to grieve the loss of my hair, and gives me the fortitude I need to fight this battle I'm facing with cancer.”
Kate’s mother, Tyliece Pepper, took the emotional letter and posted it to Facebook, where it went viral. Soon after, the school received much backlash and media coverage surrounding Kaitlyn’s story. Even the Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick tweeted in support of Kaitlyn.
“I support clear rules for students but I am asking McKinney ISD to create an exception to their dress code and allow Kate Pepper to wear her beautiful wig. I will send a formal communication to the district tomorrow.”
McKinney ISD eventually backtracked on their rule and allowed Kate to wear the wig.
The district told CBS11: “McKinney ISD made a decision to grant an exception to its dress code policy and will allow the student to wear a colored wig. The family has been contacted and were happy with the decision and expressed appreciation for the District’s understanding and reconsideration of the decision.”
(Photo: Sebastian Arning / EyeEm / Getty Images)