Feeling beautiful and loved is something everyone in life wants.
For 38-year-old Sunny Day Holcomb, that’s no different. Since the age of 21, Holcomb has battled multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. With multiple sclerosis, the brain has difficulty getting messages to the rest of the body. In the advanced stages of the disease, Holcomb cannot leave her home to get a haircut, so Daniel Bacon and Misty Winesberry, cosmetology students at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, brought the beauty salon to her last week at her Puyallup home.
As Holcomb’s family lifted her out of bed and into her wheelchair — her body so fragile, thin and delicate — it was obvious MS has taken its toll. She has lived in her parent’s living room for the past eight years, since her MS symptoms have left her unable to eat, drink or take care of herself.
Before her diagnosis, Holcomb began dragging her foot, then the disease progressed to not allow her to walk. Then it just proceeded to get worse.
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“She relies literally on all of us to take care of her,” said her father, Alan Mershon. “We also have a caregiver that she has five days a week.”
With Holcomb unable to leave her home, her father reached out to see if a woman who used to cut his hair and was an instructor at Clover Park would be willing to come to their home and cut Sunny’s hair.
“I called there hoping she would still be there,” Mershon said. “But she was retired so they asked Daniel, (he) asked Misty, and the next week they were out.”
Debbie Mershon, Sunny’s mother, says Daniel and Misty coming to their home every four to six weeks to cut Sunny’s hair has just been wonderful.
“She (Sunny) still loves her makeup and her earrings — it really just makes her feel beautiful,” Debbie said.
Before Bacon and Winesberry began what they call “playing hooky” from school to hang out with Sunny and cut her hair, Alan said Sunny’s hair was long and shaggy, but her new haircut makes her feel good about herself.
“She’s had so many things happen, her condition, and just the way things are, they made her look beautiful for a day,” her father said. “Granted, she’s beautiful all the time to us, but when they were done, she just looked dynamite.”
Bacon and Winesberry’s visit to the family’s home usually wears Sunny out, but for her it makes it all worth it. After they left, her father said she would probably sleep most of the afternoon, wake up for dinner, and go back to sleep until 10 or so the next day.
“It feels really good,” Sunny said. “I love being pampered.”
Sunny is entering the final days of her life. Her family doesn’t know when her time will come, but one thing for certain is her strength through her difficult battle.
“She’s strong, she’s very strong,” Alan said. “Especially knowing she’s going to leave him (Holcomb’s 11-year-old son, Evan) behind. I would be so angry with everybody and everything. She’s been strong since day one when she knew she had it. She’s lived every day like there was going to be another day. I don’t know how she does it.”
One of the highlights for both Bacon and Winesberry is that they are both the same age as Sunny.
“I really like it because we can talk about ‘Beverly Hills 90210,’” Misty said.
Winesberry, a self-described out-of-box-thinker, originally got on board with pampering Sunny because she can help someone out, all while gain required experience for her classes at Clover Park.
“We need to help people out; it’s who we are and it’s what we need to be doing,” she said.
For Bacon, if it wasn’t his teachers bringing opportunities to them, he says he wouldn’t be three months away from graduation.
“They believe in us, they love us, and when they see you are truly passionate about something they really support us,” he said. “They inspire her and I to do this every day.”
Not only did Bacon cut Sunny’s hair, he also gave Evan a haircut — with a side of life advice.
“In the end, when you’re happy, everyone else around you is happy,” Bacon said.
Bacon repeated the same words of wisdom to Evan that his grandmother gave him before she passed.
“She told me you don’t have to live a lie and do something that you’re really unhappy with,” he said. “You can make good money doing what you want. So I chose to become a hairdresser because it makes me feel good. I can be artistic, I get to be fun, and it’s a challenge.”
To sum up Bacon and Winesberry’s coming in to cut his mom’s hair, Evan kept it simple.
“I just think they are amazing people,” he said.