An Arkansas father went an extra mile to manifest his unconditional love for his ill one-year-old daughter after he parted ways with something he holds dear.
Kevin Stokes, 32, had been growing his locs for the last10 years. But after his daughter Nova’s cancer diagnosis and her subsequent hair loss as a result of chemotherapy, Stokes, as a way of support, decided to shave off his hair.
According to Good Morning America, Nova was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in March, a type of cancer which usually affects infants and young children. It starts “when cells in the body begin to grow out of control and crowd out normal cells,” the American Cancer Society explains.
Nova was nine months old at the time of her diagnosis. Her parents said they never imagined their daughter would be diagnosed with such an illness when they took her to a medical facility last spring after they noticed she was unwell.
“All of that day, she [was] fine up until later that evening. She just seemed really tired,” Nova’s mother, Nicolette Stokes said. “We noticed that her stomach was kind of swollen so we took her into the emergency room because she was nearly unresponsive. And yeah, when we got the news, honestly we were devastated.”
“It was really a shock to us because we knew she wasn’t feeling well when we took her to the emergency room,” Kevin Stokes added. “I think cancer was really the last thing on our minds when we spoke with the doctors.”
Nova started her chemotherapy treatment in April. Her parents said her hair loss after the first round of treatment was very fast, and they were left disturbed by it. “That was a very emotional day for us,” Kevin Stokes recalled.
“It happened so fast. Like, it honestly happened in a span of a day. It started to fall out the previous night, and then the next day, it was just like over half her head was bald, so we went and just cut the rest,” Nicolette Stokes added.
As a way of support, Kevin Stokes ultimately decided to cut his locs a month later. He told Good Morning America that he felt it was something he “needed to do” even though his hairstyle meant something to him.
“I started growing it in 2012. I’ve always wanted long hair growing up, so this was my opportunity to grow it out and I just kept growing it. And it meant quite a bit to me,” the father of two said. “I also didn’t have any plans coming up to cut my hair. But when this situation came up on us, I just felt like it was something I needed to do.”
Kevin Stokes also said his decision was spurred by his desire to “bring awareness to neuroblastoma.”
“Because everybody always asks me, ‘Why did you cut your hair? Why did you cut your hair?’ and that gives me a chance to explain to them what we’re going through and her diagnosis and her specific cancer.”
He also revealed his daughter was shocked when she saw his bald head. “[Both of our children] just stared at me,” he recalled. “And then as I got close to them, smiling, I picked her up. She’s like, ‘Aw, this is daddy,’ She started smiling and she touched my head and she was rubbing it and slapping it. So it was a shock for them but they came around to it.”
The family has taken to social media to share updates on Nova’s journey. They also posted a TikTok video of Nova’s father going bald.