Kim Becker’s Story of Faith, Cancer and Calling

Cancer. The very word strikes a chord of panic and distress. Loss and suffering. Fear and struggle.


Growing up as a spunky midwestern girl with aspirations the size of Texas, I never dreamt that my career and creativity would both one day come to revolve around this dreaded disease. Nor did I ever think that I, myself, would have to battle it to save my own life.


But you know what? On both accounts, I’m grateful. I thank God for the way He has woven my life’s thread with cancer (and severe illness in general). I thank Him for the shadows that He’s cast across my path. I’m sure you’re thinking, Thank God for cancer? Are you crazy? Well, yes! I am crazy, but let me explain.

Just a small town girl…

My story began in South Bend, Indiana. I was the oldest of four girls born into a loving family. My parents both held TWO jobs, always. They were as hard-working as they come with an infectious work ethic. Despite how much time they spent on the clock, it never felt like they were absent in our lives. They made each of my sisters and I always feel so special.


The women in my family were the best influences any girl could hope for. My mom was involved in everything we did. Softball, 4-H, pom-pom squad—she was always there cheering us along. Aunt Sue would be alongside her, and Grandma Jean (always wearing her trademark red lipstick) was never too far away either. Having that network of strong, supportive women was God planting the seed for what I would eventually be called to do.

Livin’ in a lonely world…

Long before I heard that calling, my teenage heart was set on becoming a lawyer. I loved to argue, after all! My parents were supportive, as always. “That’s great,” they said, “but you’re on your own” when it came to paying for law school. I didn’t expect anything different. There weren’t 529 savings plans back then, and the notion of working hard for what you wanted had been drilled into me from the cradle.

She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere…

I was working at a tanning salon at the time I was considering law school. Some of the ladies who worked with me said, “You know what? You should think about going to beauty school first. That way you could cut everybody’s hair in your dorm to help pay your way through law school.” It was brilliant. I could see the whole thing playing out in my head. I fell in love with the idea. So, off I went to beauty school to pave the way to my future law degree… and then I fell in love with beauty. What I had planned on being a bridge into law school quickly turned into the destination itself. Becoming a lawyer fell to the wayside (although I never lost my love for arguing), and owning a salon became my new goal.

Just a city boy…

Along the way, I met Michael: the man I’d be wed to for 23 years, and one of the most amazing people to ever walk this planet. One day he said to me, “I have the perfect name for the salon. We should call it: Hello Gorgeous!” I politely informed him that was the stupidest name I’d ever heard. “No, no, it’ll be great,” he replied, “because every time you answer the phone you get to say, ‘Hello, gorgeous!’ It’ll make people smile.”


The idea was Michael’s personality in a nutshell: upbeat, supportive and lighthearted. It was everything that made me love him as a husband, but it wasn’t what I wanted for my dream salon. My heart was set on something more sophisticated.


Soon after, we opened Cheveux Professional Hair Design: my vision was for it to be the classiest salon in Indiana. French for hair, Cheveux, was the epitome of France itself. I poured everything I had into making it the bougiest salon possible. My dream was to pamper our clients beyond anything they had ever experienced. And that’s what I did.


Here is a video to learn more about our late Founder Michael Becker, The Man, The Myth and The Legend.

Some will win, and some will lose…

Michael had been diagnosed with a rare liver disease three years into our marriage. It was slow-acting, but severe. It meant we became used to spending time in hospitals. It also meant we were used to missing holiday gatherings, leaning on friends and family for extra support and adapting work schedules to suit a strict medical regimen. Just three months after Michael’s diagnosis, his mother passed away. It was a tough blow for our whole family, but we persevered. I think it was God’s way of preparing us for the calling that He would soon reveal to me.


Over the next decade, despite Michael’s diagnosis, our lives revolved around Cheveux. We were blessed with plenty of success throughout those years, but something about the business always felt off to me—something I could never quite place. Even though the salon was more successful than we could have ever imagined, there was something missing. We had seventeen stylists and packed bookings every day, yet it felt empty.

Their shadows searching in the night…

One day, the answer struck me like a bolt of lightning sent by God. I heard God’s call. Michael was driving us home when I looked at him from the passenger seat and said, “I know what we need to do. We need to have a mobile day spa that caters to women fighting cancer. We need to have this beautiful, elegant palace on wheels that’ll show up just a few feet from their doors and treat them like queens during a time when they don’t feel very special.” Michael just shook his head with disbelief. He knew all too well how hard it was to launch and build up a new business. So naturally, what I said next made all the color drain from his face.


“We’re going to do it free of charge.”

Workin’ hard to get my fill…

I realized Hello Gorgeous! wasn’t the name meant for the salon. It was meant for this. Afterall, it perfectly suited the idea: making a woman feel special, supported and beautiful at a time when she needed it most.


It took some convincing to win Michael over to the idea, but he eventually became the organization’s most enthusiastic supporter. Down the road, even as his disease worsened, he continued to answer the phone from his hospital bed with a giant smile on his face. He’d greet our callers with a “Hello, gorgeous!” so enthusiastic, nobody hearing his voice on the phone would ever dream that he had IVs, tubes and wires hooked up to his failing body.


Before Michael reached the point of being bedridden, he had plenty of strength to help me with the monumental task of starting Hello Gorgeous! I always say that God should have chosen two people with marketing degrees from Harvard to do what He called Michael and me to do. Instead, He picked a salon owner and a man with a degree in Pre-Columbian archeology… Yes, seriously. As the saying goes:

God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.

Michael was great at finding resources for getting the idea off the ground—books on writing grants and guides on starting a nonprofit. But the best piece of advice came from Millard Fuller, the co-founder of Habitat for Humanity. He told us to forget our funding concerns and “just start.”


“There are women that need this service now,” he said, “and they don’t care if you do it in an alley over a garbage can. You just need to start.” So we did. Not with the palace on wheels I’d envisioned, but from the salon we already had and with whatever connections and donations we could get our hands on.

Up and down the boulevard…

In 2006, we began working out of Cheveux and other local salons with donated brushes, wigs and beauty supplies. Word of mouth got around, and women going through cancer treatments were nominated by their loved ones to receive our services. We would roll out a red carpet and they’d show up to a surprise day in the salon.


The transformations were incredible. Women would come in with shoulders slumped, hands clutching onto bags they feared they might throw up in. They’d leave with shoulders back and heads held high, with the confidence of a runway model.


It didn’t take long to know the idea was a hit. Eventually, my beauty palace on wheels came to fruition. In 2010, we were able to tour all of Indiana with our mobile day spa. During that trip, we touched so many lives and learned so many things about health, struggle and what it truly means to battle cancer as a woman. I later compiled many of those moving experiences in my book: Hello Gorgeous!: A Journey of Love, Faith and Hope.

For a smile they can share the night…

It was great to make so many incredible women feel special. And yet, the women fighting cancer that I hadn’t touched were weighing heavy on my heart. Over 800,000 women are diagnosed with cancer in the United States every year. How could we reach more of them? As with all things, God revealed a little more of His vision in my head to give the answer.


While on tour, we developed a salon training program so other business owners could offer people the Hello Gorgeous! experience, multiplying its impact. We taught volunteer stylists how to work with people who had compromised immune systems and made deals with manufacturers to help stock our new affiliates with supplies.


Soon, participants poured in from all over the country. Before COVID hit and shook things up, Hello Gorgeous! had 33 affiliate locations in 15 different states from Maryland to California. Today, many of those salons are still giving free monthly makeovers to cancer patients, and our organization is hard at work building our affiliate network back up.


Some are born to sing the blues…

I wish I could tell you the story ends there, and that Michael and I—plus the rest of our fabulous team—went on to run Hello Gorgeous! happily ever after. Unfortunately, God had other plans. Michael’s condition continued to worsen over the years. In 2017, the Lord took him back home.


Michael had always said to me, “When my time comes, I want to use up every ounce of everything that I have. I want to go sliding into home base with absolutely nothing left and say, ‘that was awesome!’” I believe with all my heart he did just that. Today, Hello Gorgeous! lives on as his legacy. The phrase is even written on his headstone so that people walking through the cemetery might see it and smile during a time when they need it the most.


My husband’s death wasn’t unexpected. For years we had known it was coming, and so I had plenty of time to make peace with the fact I would one day lose him. I wasn’t angry at God for taking Michael from me—not for one second. On the contrary, I was grateful He had given me 23 bliss-filled years with my soulmate. Three years later, my faith would be tested yet again. God decided it was my turn to be diagnosed with cancer.

Don't stop believing…

When my husband died, I really tried to instill into our son that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. Attitude is everything. I always told him, “Your dad was an amazing man, but he would want us to go on.” With my diagnosis, that advice was put to the ultimate test.


I am happy to say that, thanks to my past experiences with cancer patients, my vast rock-solid support network and the growth mindset that I’d cultivated through Hello Gorgeous!, I was able to sail through my battle with cancer unscathed. Even better, I was able to do it my way.


When it came time for the surgeons to operate on my tumor, I knew that I needed to hand over control to God in a way that made me feel good too. So I requested that as I was put under by the anesthesiologist that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” be blaring in the operating room. I wanted everybody belting it out! Nobody can hear that song without having their mood lifted, and I wanted everyone in their best spirits for the occasion. It was the last thing I heard as I drifted out of consciousness on the operating table. Because that’s the way that I wanted to do it. By God’s grace, that surgery was the only treatment I had to endure.

Hold on to that feeling…

Today, I share that same sentiment with the women we serve at Hello Gorgeous! It’s your battle and your journey, so do it your way. Want to shave your head and wear a wig? Great! Not your thing? That’s great too! However you handle your struggle, we’ll be with you every step of the way. And so will everybody that you love.


To me, that’s the beauty inherent in struggle. That’s why God challenges us with Goliath-sized problems like cancer: because every challenge is a chance for us to learn, to appreciate the people who support us, to let His strength shine through us and—if He wills it—to come out on the other side knowing that we’re capable of overcoming in our own special way.


Sometimes we just have to shoot a rock with our slingshot to defeat our enemies. Sometimes the battle is a lot harder and it takes a lot longer than we could’ve imagined. No matter your journey, God has your back, and that is all a girl can really ask for.

Hello Gorgeous! is supported by donations and the generosity of its donors. Click here to learn more and to support their cause.

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