Wig gives ailing girl lots of swagger and style

Posted: June 27, 2013

The Winchester Star

Cecilee Roper holds the braids of her hairpiece at Winchester Medical Center Wednesday where her mother is a nurse in the Surgi-Center.
Winchester Medical Center nurse Tracey Krupa of Winchester holds the hand of 4-year-old Cecilee Roper of Inwood, W.Va., who wears a wig made of Krupa’s hair Wednesday. The youngster is undergoing chemotherapy for neurofibromatosis and Krupa's hair color was a close match to Cecilee’s, so she donated it to allow a hairpiece to be made for the girl. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Shown with her parents, Robyn and Chris Roper (right), Cecilee Roper models her hairpiece, which was arranged for by Winchester Medical Center nurses Lisa Woodall of Frederick County (second from left) and Betty Anderson of Frederick County, who helped pay for the wig with a donation from her father, Harold Anderson. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)


Four-year-old Cecilee Roper twirled the long strawberry blond braids streaming down from her straw cowgirl hat.

The lustrous locks are courtesy of Tracey Krupa, a co-worker of Cecilee’s mom, Robyn Roper, at the Surgi-Center of Winchester.

Cecilee, who lives in Inwood, W.Va., has neurofibromatosis, which has caused tumors to grow on her optic nerves. In March, she started a year-long chemotherapy regimen to shrink the tumors, and it has caused some of her hair to fall out.

Several weeks ago, Krupa had more than 2 feet of hair cut off so she could send it to Hip Hats with Hair, an organization in Tampa, Fla., which created the hairpiece for Cecilee. Nurses at the Surgi-Center donated money to have the hairpiece made.

“You can cut, color, perm, curl [it],” Roper said. “Because it’s real hair, you can do anything you want.”

Cecilee piped up, “Or, brush it!”

The hair is attached to a cap that can then be worn under a hat.

“We went on a little bit of a shopping spree, and she got several hats,” Roper said.

Besides the cowgirl hat, Cecilee also has a Dora the Explorer one, a Hello Kitty hat, an Elmo cap and “a camouflage one like her brothers,” Roper said. She said she drew the line at Cecilee’s request to buy purses to match each hat.

“The new hair, Tracey’s hair, is going to be such a good thing because it protects her scalp from the sun,” Roper said.

On Wednesday, she, her husband, Chris — who also has neurofibramotis — and Cecilee visited the Surg-Center, where Roper’s fellow nurses got to see the little girl’s “dress-up hair.”

Krupa said she enjoys the lightness of her new haircut, which brushes her nape.

“And, this just makes me smile from ear to ear,” she said, pointing to Cecilee.

Another nurse, Betty Anderson, added, “It’s gorgeous. It just brings tears to my eyes actually to see her. She’s been such a trouper.”

Roper said Cecilee, who gets one chemo treatment a week for four weeks followed by two weeks off, is doing well. In addition to her cowgirl hat, she had on a flowery sundress and pink cowgirl boots.

“She’s doing great,” Roper said. “She’s far more spunky and giggly this week than she’s been in a while. She’s really energetic.”

The hairpiece brings out another side to her daughter’s personality.

“When she has it on, she spent 45 minutes dancing for us the other day, putting on a dancing show for [family],” Roper said. “She was playing with her hair and dancing. The hair was a big part of the dance show that we all had to sit and watch and eat popcorn.”

Cecilee has a support page on Facebook, called Team Cecilee.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com