Kennedy: Dunlap stylist hopes for fairy-tale ending

Kennedy: Dunlap stylist hopes for fairy-tale ending

June 13th, 2019 by Mark Kennedy in Opinion Columns

April Lewis at her hair Alice in Wonderland-themed salon in Dunlap, Tenn.

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

April Lewis at her hair Alice in Wonderland-themed salon in Dunlap, Tenn.

April Lewis at her hair Alice in Wonderland-themed...

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

April Lewis wears her heart on her sleeve.

In her case, the contents of her heart are rendered on a tattoo filled with characters and images from "Alice in Wonderland."

There, on her elegantly inked right arm, is Alice in the Hatter's hat, and the March Hare and Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

"I've always been a big fan of 'Alice in Wonderland,'" said the 39-year-old Dunlap, Tennessee, hair salon owner. "You can go into a place that is not normal. Make up your own rules, your own reality."

Three years ago, when she opened her salon, called Hairitage, Lewis immediately decorated it with a "Through the Looking Glass" theme.

Inside the salon there's a silhouette cutout of Alice hanging upside down from the ceiling. She's falling down the rabbit hole, Lewis explained. There is a wall of clocks, all set to different times, and a line of books and teapots suspended from the rafters with fishing line.

"This is my Wonderland," Lewis, a single mother of two little girls, said while gesturing around the salon.

Lewis explained that the salon is housed in an old movie theater on Walnut Street — interestingly, the place where one set of her grandparents had their first date.

A year ago last month, Lewis' life turned upside down shortly after she discovered a lump in her right breast. She went to her doctor, who immediately ordered a mammogram.

"The mammogram tech got nervous and sent me down the hall for an ultrasound, and I could tell they didn't like what they saw," Lewis remembered.

A few days later, a biopsy was performed, and soon Lewis got a fateful phone call from her doctors — the lump was Stage 3 breast cancer.

An optimist by nature, Lewis said her thoughts immediately turned to her family and friends. How would her girls — ages 6 and 12 — react, she thought? What would this mean for her customers?

The next few months were grueling: 16 chemo treatments beginning last June, followed by a right mastectomy in December and 30 rounds of radiation in January and February.

Meanwhile, her adopted hometown of Dunlap — where she had spent weekends and summers with her grandparents as a kid — embraced her in ways she never would have imagined.

"I didn't understand how many people cared about me," Lewis said. "The support was verbal, financial, emotional. People would stop by just to hug me. People gave me money because they knew I couldn't work at the moment. Fundraisers were held for me so I could pay my bills and stuff."

And the food, so much food, she recalled.

Because she couldn't work, former hairstyle clients became close friends who invited her into their homes, she said. Meanwhile, her kindhearted landlord suspended rent payments on her salon while she was on the shelf.

Now, more than a year after she found the lump, Lewis has still not been cleared by her doctors to return to work. She charts her progress on a blog, the most efficient way to communicate her health status to friends and family.

She will have another surgery in late summer and hopes that after that her doctor will let her return to the salon.

She said, "I'm optimistic that things are going to get back to normal, that things are going to be OK."

A fairy tale ending would be nice.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com


Loading...