Tracy Balik wrung her hands, toying with her perfectly manicured nails as Abby McCannon broke out the measuring tape and, then, the scissors.
In her 21 years of life, Balik had never had more than a snip of her waist-length blond hair taken off -- until Friday.
Even though she had decided to cut off at least a foot of her hair, Balik's face still held all the anxious emotions that come with change as McCannon started cutting. Her blue eyes shifted nervously, but she stood perfectly still.
"Oh my God," Balik said as McCannon handed her just over 12-inches of blond ponytail.
"It feels a lot lighter," she added as she examined her hair hanging just to the middle of her back.
Balik steeled herself for the moment with the decision to donate her hair to Locks of Love, a Florida-based group which makes wigs of real hair for cancer victims who've lost theirs.
She never cut it, she mused, because her dad liked long hair and she "never really wanted to cut it."
"Honestly," she added, "I'm sick of it. It's always in the way."
Balik's friend Justin Golie came to support her through the trim. He lost his mother recently to breast cancer. She wore wigs, including some from Locks of Love, through four years of chemotherapy treatments.
"I know what it was like for mom to lose her hair," he said. "I think it's neat she's cutting it. This helps women cope with losing something they treasure, like their hair."
McCannon, Carson City's only female barber who works at Al's Barbershop on Highway 50 East, used to work with Balik at the Mane Event where Balik is a manicurist and promised to cut Balik's hair when she was ready.
"She always had little girls braiding it while she was working on customers," McCannon said. "This is a major step for her. It will look beautiful for whoever they make a wig for."
Balik said she will miss people playing with her hair, something she loves.
While Locks of Love can't track who will receive her hair, she prefers to think a little girl will receive her gift.
"I can't imagine how hard it is to go through school going through chemo," she said. "At least it's going to a good cause."
For information on Locks of Love, call 1-888-896-1588 or head to the Web at www.locksoflove.org.