OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – “Dad please shave my hair off! OK!” It was a late night impulse after little Leavyn Kozak’s bedtime.
“She just sat up and she said, ‘I think it’s time to shave my head.’ And so Eddie jumped up and said, ‘Let’s do it,’ explained Leavyn’s mom, Winter Kozak.
The Kozaks had been thinking and talking about how to handle this moment after their daughter’s diagnosis of lymphoblastic leukemia at age two. While she kept her hair for months, they knew the accumulation of chemotherapy treatments would force them to pick up a razor eventually.
Rewind to October 2019. The Kozaks, parents of three, were puzzled by Leavyn’s repeated fevers, followed by a mysterious sore arm. Winter won’t forget the doctor’s call when blood work came back with confirmation.
“I literally hit my knees in her room and started crying. She came over to me, and it was like she knew. She came over and hugged me and she started crying too,” Winter said.
The family was immediately swept up in the care of staff at OU Children’s Hospital and Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.
Winter Kozak recalls “It was such a whirlwind. Within 48 hours she got her port and her first chemo, and she was really, really sick.” Eddie Kozak nods, adding, “The staff really care what they do.” Winter adds, “I think a fighter mentality rose up in our whole family, that we were going to get through this and see the promises of God in our family.”
In between chemo-infusions, Leavyn enjoyed dance parties with her siblings.
Her ballet teacher’s home-visits were another bright spot during the isolation, made more intense due to the pandemic. Two and a half years later, Leavyn got to “ring the bell” to announce the end of chemo at her 5th birthday party. When asked about it, she smiles shyly and says, “I got to dance at my party.”
Her parents wonder what memories she’ll have of this time in her life, both turbulent and joyful, too. Eddie sums it up saying, “It gives you a new understanding of life and appreciation of life.” The Psalm that promises “weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning” fits perfectly. In fact, the video of Leavyn shrieking and laughing as her dad shaves her head is not only a treasure for the Kozaks, it has gone viral on social media.
If you’d like to help children like Leavyn fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.