CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Trading in her baggy sweats and oversized T-shirt, Sarah Erwin Vance left her Logan home for the bright lights -- and sky-high stilettos -- of New York City.
Vance, 28, traveled to the city Thursday for a "Mommy Makeover" courtesy of the "Live with Kelly and Michael" show, which aired Monday morning.
"It was phenomenal -- once in a lifetime!" Vance said. "My husband and I had never been to New York City, so it was a wonderful trip all around. We got to explore, and I got this new look; I really, really like it."
Vance's dark brown tresses were dyed honey blonde with two rounds of highlights and cut into a modern short shag.
The rest went to Locks of Love, marking the fourth time in eight years the cancer survivor has donated her hair to the organization.
"Friday was hair day. I was at the salon from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. We got the works -- manicure, pedicure, color and cut," the occupational therapist said.
"But what took so long, Lawrence, the stylist, his first decision is not usually his last. He cut my hair four or five times. I never thought I'd be blonde in my life!"
Vance was chosen from a pool of makeover applicants. Her co-worker, Beth Shawver, convinced her to throw her hat in the ring.
"We were just talking one day about getting gray hair; she said she'd love a makeover," said Shawver, 40, a registered nurse at Logan Regional Medical Center.
"I just saw the day before they were having that contest, and I tried to see if I could put her name in, but you had to apply yourself."
With the encouragement of her co-worker, Vance did just that.
She found the show's web site and penned her life story upon the essay prompt. She wrote about being diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager; about undergoing chemotherapy; about her sister donating her own hair for a wig; and about ultimately going into remission, where she has been for the past 12 years.
"When Sara had cancer, she lost all of her hair very quickly," said her sister, Brianne Erwin, 31, of Vancouver, Wash. "At that point in my life, I had very long hair because of my mother's religion. It was almost down to my waist.
"At that point in my life, my hair was a defining factor. That's something people remember you by. But watching what chemotherapy does -- it's such an easy thing to get rid of to make her feel more comfortable."