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Woman takes ‘beautiful lengths’ in tribute

Deloris Furr’s mother never had a chance to even do chemotherapybefore her life was cut short by lung cancer.

When Barbie Bassett and Stephanie Bell Flynt of WLBT newsspearheaded the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign in Jackson, Furrfelt it would be a personal tribute to join the movement. However,when she called to join, she found there were many people alreadyparticipating in the station’s effort.

“I decided to go ahead and do it on my own and let Vern do it,”Furr said.

“Vern” is Vernell Hooker, who owns Anticho Salon in downtownBrookhaven.

Hooker has worked on two different Miss Universe Pageants,including being the hairdresser for Miss Universe 2005 NatalieGlebova. But Hooker said this is the first time he’s cut hair for acause.

“He cut my friend’s hair,” said Furr. “I really liked herhaircut, so I came in here a few weeks ago and told him what Iwanted to do and we set up a time.”

Furr’s mother Bobbie Beard, who never smoked, died in August,six months after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Furr’s eyesteared up as she talked about her.

“She never even got to have a wig,” said Furr. “We think abouther every day, and we miss her so much. My husband said I could cutmy hair if I did this.”

Furr’s husband, Randy, has a brother who is a retiredoncologist. Though he is a man of few words, he voiced his supportof her project.

“I think it’s a good thing, with my brother being an oncologist,and now we’re helping people with cancer, too,” he said.

Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths project collects real-hair donationsto make wigs for cancer patients. WLBT has spearheaded a hairdonation drive in Jackson, and actress Diane Lane donated her hairto the project earlier this year when she cut her hair live on NBCin July.

“For some women, dealing with the stigma of hair loss, aninevitable side effect of certain cancer treatments, while tryingto get well again can be overwhelming,” said Lane on the PantenePro-V Web site. “It’s one more burden that they have to bear duringan incredibly difficult time.”

For Furr, the project involved taking a ponytail of hair (inFurr’s case, 12 inches) and sending it in a plastic bag to Pantene.Hooker carefully cut the hair just above the rubber band, then setto work.

“It’s an overexaggerated bob,” he said of the cut. “She’s gotreally thick hair, so I point-cut it for movement. She can curl it,she can straighten it – it’s very versatile.”

Furr said her mother used to cut her hair when she was a child,as she sat on the kitchen cabinet.

“It looked like she put a bowl on my head and cut around it,”she said, laughing.

Having only once ever had her hair bobbed as an adult, Furr wassurprised at the shortness, though she was happy to think of howeasy it would be to style.

“Sometimes it takes me 20-30 minutes to blow dry my hair,” shesaid. “This is a big shock, but I’m glad to be doing it forsomething I believed in. As long as my husband is OK, I’m OK.”

But Furr kept her eyes, which her stylish new bob shows muchbetter now, focused on the point.

“February is the month for love,” she said. “My mother was thesweetest person anyone could ever know. Everyone misses her.”

And Hooker believes this is a great way to spur the Brookhavencommunity to action.

“I told Deloris maybe people around here would want to getinvolved too,” he said. “She was like, ‘Everyone’s already doingit,’ and I was like, ‘No, they’re not.'”

Information on hair donations through the Pantene BeautifulLengths program is available at www.beautifullengths.com.