A Texas high school senior battling brain cancer has won the fight to wear her blue-black wig after school officials told her it was a violation of the dress code.
McKinney ISD, located north of Dallas, announced Sunday that they have reversed their decision and will allow Kate Pepper to wear the wig.
“I feel a relief, and I am honestly hoping that if anyone else is going through my circumstances that this will help them along the way as well,” Pepper told CNN affiliate KTVT.
Pepper, 17, has been battling her second bout of brain cancer. A week before her senior year, she made the tough decision to shave her long, braided hair, which had started falling out from cancer treatments. The teen documented her journey throughout her treatments on YouTube.
“Losing your hair is always the tough part about having cancer,” Pepper said in a YouTube video. “But at the end of the day, I know I can make it through and that my hair will grow back.”
Pepper was sad that she wouldn’t be able to express herself through her hairstyle the way she had in the past. But before the start of her senior year, she and her mother went wig shopping and found the perfect one.
“After a few days of us looking I was able to hide my baldness and show my strength with a two tone turquoise and black wig that symbolizes confidence, integrity and power, to help me weather through the storm,” she wrote in a letter to the school that her mother posted on Facebook.
“This wig makes me feel normal, confident and other wise pretty during a time in my life where I have so many things I can’t control. …. I’m empowered by wearing this wig although it’s subtle in color it gives me an abundance of strength and power to grieve the loss of my hair, and gives me the fortitude I need to fight this battle I’m facing with cancer.”
After administrators told her the color of the wig violated the dress code, her mother, Tyliece Pepper, took to social media to share her dismay and soon her story was featured on the local news.
It even caught the attention of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “I support clear rules for students but I am asking McKinney ISD to create an exception to their dress code and allow Kate Pepper to wear her beautiful wig,” Patrick tweeted on Sunday. “I will send a formal communication to the district tomorrow.”
When officials announced she will be able to keep wearing her wig, Patrick sent out another statement in support for her.
“I am very glad to hear McKinney ISD has made an exception for Kate so she can wear her turquoise wig during treatment,” he tweeted. “Let’s keep Kate in our prayers.”