‘She’s not alone’: Boss shaves head to support employee with cancer

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Tina Calloway and her boss, Wescoat Free (Photo courtesy of Dawn Wright)

CULLMAN, Ala. – A cancer diagnosis is an incredibly stressful ordeal, both for the patient and their family – treatments, work obligations, health complications and the mental toll of having to handle everything can wear someone down very quickly. Fortunately for a local insurance agent, she found that her colleagues were more than happy to support her in any way they could, even making sure she didn’t go through her hair loss by herself.

Wescoat Free, owner of Knight-Free Insurance Agency, said longtime agent Tina Calloway received the life-changing diagnosis in February and has since gone through a few rounds of chemotherapy. When her hair started falling out, she chose to have her husband shave all of it off, but Free felt that she shouldn’t have to go through all of it alone.

“I called up her husband Sammy and said I wanted to surprise her,” Free stated. “So, I went over to her house with some of the other employees and Sammy shaved my head like he did hers.”

Free said the reactions he got were, for the most part, overwhelmingly positive.

“My mom thought I was crazy, but my wife was all for it,” he smiled. “I’ve gotten a lot of compliments about it since then, but I’ve also had a lot of people ribbing me about buying a lot more sunscreen. Tina was so surprised when it happened, and I was real happy that I could do this for her, show her that she’s not alone.”

Calloway recalled the day of the decision with fondness.

“I never expected him to do anything like that, but that is just the type person he is,” she said. “We had a lot of laughs while Wescoat got his cut and it really made losing my hair easier to deal with.”

Free went on to say, “We’re a small business, and we’re like family here. Tina’s been part of the family a long time, and we wanted to make sure she didn’t have to worry about too much while going through chemo. Obviously, the pandemic and everything threw a bit of a wrench in the plans, but Tina’s been able to work from home, and the other ladies at the office have been picking up a bit of her workload so she doesn’t have so much on her plate.”

Calloway went into further detail about how deeply Free cares about his work family, saying, “As COVID-19 started spreading in our state, Wescoat sent me home to work so I wouldn’t run the risk of getting something that would interfere with my treatments. He ordered me a laptop and a printer which enables me to have an income during these crazy times.”

Calloway finished by remarking, “I knew when I went to work at Knight-Free 20 years ago that the people there were special, and they continue to show me just how much. I feel blessed to work with and for such a great group!”

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Heather Mann

heather@cullmantribune.com