Powerful kitchen haircut shows the fight of this 5-year-old with leukemia
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Our children have a way of showing us how strong we can be. 

Take Indiana mother Tyesha Rodgers for instance. 

Her 5-year-old daughter Ta’Niyla was diagnosed with leukemia the day before Christmas of 2020. 

It was difficult news to digest, as Ta’Niyla had just started dance class and had been exhibiting symptoms for several months before her family got an answer.

“At first hearing that news, it was very hard,” Rodgers told Hey, Black Mom! “I had a great-grandmother who passed away from ovarian cancer.

“That’s the only thing I knew was chemo, radiation and death. That’s what I thought it was going to be for my baby girl.”

But she learned more once her daughter started treatment, which is expected to last two years. Ta’Niyla, whose kitchen haircut by her father recently went viral, goes to therapy once every 10 days. 

While the days seemed to get a bit easier as time went on, something else hit Rodgers that she wasn’t ready for: Ta’Niyla started losing her hair.

“If you go back and look at some of her photos, she loved her hair,” said Rodgers, who also has a 9-year-old son. “When it first started to fall out, it was heartbreaking for me to see, because I wasn’t ready to see that part.”

But the young warrior was ready to let it go.

Her hair started falling out in February, and even then, Ta’Niyla asked her parents if she could cut it. It wasn’t until April, after weeks of pleading and when Rodgers could no longer hide the bald spots and thinning, that Ta’Niyla got her wish. 

Rodgers told her to ask her father Howard Plam if he would do the honors. He asked once more if they were absolutely sure; then, the clippers came out. 

In the middle of the family’s kitchen, Plam shaved his daughter’s head, much to her oblige. 

“I was just sitting there with tears in my eyes and just seeing how strong my baby girl is and she’s only 5,” Rodgers recalled. “That’s when I just grabbed my camera and started snapping the pictures.”

She, as she often does to keep her family updated, posted the photos to Facebook and the images went viral. The post got more than 31,000 reactions and was shared more than 12,000 times. It was also picked up by local news outlets. 

Ta’Niyla was pleased with her new hairdo. As she told her mother before: it’s only hair. 

The inspirational haircut wasn’t the only time during this life-changing process the 5-year-old exhibited bravery beyond her years. 

Tyesha Rodgers and her daughter Ta'Niyla smile for a selfie
Tyesha and Ta’Niyla pose for a selfie with the 5-year-old’s new hairdo. Photo: Tyesha Rodgers

Her mother said she’s continued being herself. Even on treatment days when feeling grouchy, Ta’Niyla still peps up when her younger cousins visit. 

She also gave Rodgers the will to fight, too. She started crying at the hospital one day, not knowing her daughter was awake. Ta’Niyla unplugged her IV machine and approached her mother with a box of tissue. 

“As I was looking out the window, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling and I didn’t know at the time that she was awake or that she heard me,” Rodgers said. “She handed me a box of Kleenex and she said, ‘Mommy, this is for when you cry for me, but I don’t want you to cry for me anymore.’ 

“Just to see that little girl at her age, just 5, that gave me the strength right there to carry on and I knew that she was gonna be OK.”