Liz's Story

72-year-old Liz Quinnett from California is one of the most selfless people you will ever meet.

At the age of 7, there was an outbreak of ringworm at her school and the go-to treatment in the 50s was X-rays. Liz has fair skin and suffered an overdose of the treatments. This caused her to have a chemical burn and hair loss. She even had to get a skin graft. In the 5th grade, she began wearing wigs.

Liz says that she suffered bullying because of her hair loss, although they didn’t use that term at the time.

“It was a pretty traumatic experience.”  

“My first wig looked like a toupee and sat like a pancake on top of my head, it was hideous! It wasn’t until junior high when I was about 13 or 14 years old that I got a full human hair wig, and it was very expensive. It was pretty limiting based on a family’s income. So, when synthetic wigs came, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! They are so much more affordable.”

A retired social worker, Liz spent 40 years in the field of social work, helping abused children. The world needs more people like Liz! She believes that her experiences with trauma in her childhood years influenced her path in helping children.

“It resonated with me because of what I’ve been through. I have a heart for people.”

In speaking with Liz, it becomes more and more evident that she is truly a woman who puts herself aside for others. Never does she linger on a topic about herself, instead she discusses others who are in need.

“Teachers, people who work with the elderly, those are the underappreciated fields."

At 69, Liz was diagnosed with breast cancer. This has become another area where she keeps the well-being of others in the forefront of her mind.

"I tell every woman I can to self-examine, it’s critical. A lot can happen between mammograms...

I had been getting mammograms faithfully and then I found it myself. I didn’t know anything when I found it, I heard you find a pea sized lump. I called Kaiser and pushed to get in immediately, and the rest is history. Thank god I had Kaiser. They have a very good protocol.”

Kaiser was founded in 1945 and has 12.2 million members, making it one of the largest non-profit health plans in the US, and has medical facilities all over the country. 

“Ironically, for the first time I felt ‘normal’ with other cancer patients. I wasn’t the only bald woman”

Liz was already in stage 3 triple negative breast cancer when she found the tumor in her breast.  

“I look back on it and I feel like I lost 2016. That’s the year I had the surgeries and the chemo was brutal. I lost 35 pounds and had 30-35 days of radiation. I am now cancer free, but the reality of breast cancer is that it’s not uncommon to have re-occurrences. That’s been my biggest struggle is not getting hung up on fear and letting that lead me into depression.

Cancer is like the gift that keeps on giving, I have numbness in my fingers and toes and problems with my eyes. I haven’t worn makeup in years and believe me, I was the one that wouldn’t go to 7-11 without makeup on! You just adjust and be grateful that you are vertical. That’s what I tell people, I’m just happy that I’m healthy and vertical."

She recently donated about a dozen wigs. When asked how she donates them, she says that the Cancer Society is a good resource. She donates all her wigs to The Discovery Shop that’s related to cancer patients. They give patients a free wig.

“It’s a place where people can feel safe, because it’s other cancer survivors.

I’ve worn wigs for decades and am grateful they’ve become stylish and affordable. I still wish my hair would come back but it’s not meant to be. I’m more focused and grateful that I’m cancer free.”

Liz has great advice for other women who are battling cancer,

“Find friends or a group where you can talk about your fears, treatment or issues. Filter out those who emit negativity.”

Wonderful words of wisdom from a someone who is beautiful, inside and out. Liz’s story reminds us to always have a heart of servitude for others, even during our darkest hour.