Salute Our Heroes: Client credits Great Clips stylist with saving her life
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Shayna Middendorf said her seven year career as a hair stylist has been about more than giving her clients fresh looks.
“If someone’s in my chair my job is to make them look good, yes but also for them to feel safe and for them to feel like I care and I do care that’s why I’m in this job,” she said.
“I care about my clients and I want to make sure they’re safe and that they’re aware of what’s going on; knowledge, knowledge is power.”
In late January at the Great Clips salon in Southwest Topeka, Middendorf acted on that philosophy when she began an appointment with first time customer Ann Alcala.
“I just notice a bump and I ask her about it and she says 'no I don’t know about it’ so I kind of went off from there and said, ‘you know you really wanna get that checked out just to be safe at the very least’.”
Aside from some itching prior to the appointment, Alcala didn’t think much of the spot.
“The way she said it to me and everything she took it seriously so I thought ‘okay I better take it seriously’,” she said.
Middendorf said she hadn’t thought much about the exchange since she’s been trained to know what unusual bumps look like on people’s heads.
“If I was being persistent she had to have been feeling a little light about it,” she said.
“If I’m being persistent it’s because I truly believe that something is wrong.”
After the appointment, Alcala decided to follow Middendorf’s advice by checking in with a niece who is a nurse.
“She came down to check it out and she goes ‘okay auntie that hair dresser you had was right you need to go to a doctor to have it checked out it doesn’t look good'," Alcala recounted.
After that, she decided to check in with her doctor who found out Middendorf’s suspicions were accurate -the bump turned out to be a form of skin cancer.
“I was so nervous I had never been through anything like that before and I get so nervous that I just thought I was going to get sick,” she said.
“Sometimes with skin cancer people don’t understand it but it will jump on your skull to another area.”
The cancer was caught early enough to be removed without major consequences.
The now cancer-free Ann spent months trying to find the stylist that saved her.
Middendorf had since been promoted to Manager at Great Clips' Southeast Topeka Location.
A connection from a colleague helped the two reunite earlier this month.
Middendorf said it’s the first time anyone’s told her about advice she gave on this topic but she does not see herself as a hero.
“I was completely surprised when I got that call saying she had come back and that we had done something good for her,” she said.
“I don’t feel like a hero I just feel like I did my job.”
Alcala said the good deed could not go unnoticed.
“I thought in my heart she was like a guardian angel that told me right away cause otherwise I wouldn’t have gone I would’ve let it go by ,” she said.
“There are people, kindhearted people like Shayna out there for each and every one of us but we have to thank our Lord for them and we have to thank them for people like Shayna because there’s a lot of people like Shayna, we just don’t run into them right away.”
As for Middendorf, the experience has given her more than a new client.
“I think about the chain of events that it took for her to sit in my chair that day and that it was meant to be a lot of little things had to happen for her to be in my chair that day and they did and I’m glad they worked out,” she said.
“It makes me feel like I have a purpose and I feel connected with Ann now I really do it makes me feel like I’m part of her life now she has every right to live just like I do so why wouldn’t I?”
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