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Bald Beauties Project® helps boost confidence for ill kids

(via Tucson.com) Wearing a pink and white dress and matching headband on her newly bald head, 9-year-old Patricia Navarro holds her head high and smiles.

As photographer Natalie Lindberg’s camera clicks, Patricia goes through a series of poses, finishing in a yellow and purple garden surrounded by butterflies. The Tucson resident, who is about to enter fourth grade, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia two months ago. She is in the midst of undergoing chemotherapy.

Patricia is one of four Tucson children who have benefited from the new nonprofit Bald Beauties Project® since it began operating a month ago. The organization, which will hold its first fundraiser on Aug. 23, provides professional photo shoots to kids who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.

Patricia, 9, plays with the flowers as Lindberg takes her photo. Patricia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and is undergoing chemotherapy.

The Bald Beauties Project® was created by Catalina Foothills High School senior Kelsey Taylor Luria during her treatments for acute myeloid leukemia.

After Kelsey died in April, six days after her 18th birthday, her parents, Michael and Maya Luria, decided to continue with her plans for Bald Beauties. Kelsey, who was diagnosed in November, had struggled with being bald but went through a transformation after being photographed bald by two local, professional photographers, including Lindberg.

Kelsey wanted to help give other kids with cancer the confidence and comfort with her appearance that she gained.

Twelve-year-old Belle Harrison, who has a rare and aggressive skull-based cancer tumor called chordoma, chose to shave her head earlier this year rather than watch her hair fall out from chemotherapy. She had her Bald Beauties photo shoot outdoors two weeks ago at the University of Arizona.

Before Kelsey Luria died April 18 after a battle with leukemia, she started a project to bolster the self-esteem of teens who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.

“It was really empowering for her to have the opportunity to get glammed up and feel gorgeous,” said her mother, Serene Harrison. “She has had a lot of stares, people looking at her, but during the photo shoot she was getting all positive reactions. People were smiling and it was really good for her.”

During a difficult time for her family, Serene says the photos are invaluable. Some of the photos include Belle’s younger sister and other family members.

“It’s something to remember and display,” Serene said. “It’s a precious, wonderful thing.”

Some of Patricia’s photos included her older brother, younger sister and her parents, Mara Bocanegra and Jose Navarro. Her dog, Chiquita, came to the photo shoot, too.

Patricia felt self-conscious when she started losing her hair, her family said. She requested the photo shoot after seeing a photo of Kelsey in the hallway at the local Banner-Diamond Children’s Medical Center.

She thought Kelsey looked so pretty without her hair, her mother said in Spanish.

The Bald Beauties Project® is scheduling more photo shoots for this month.

Read more at Tucson.com ››

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