"I HAVE always had long hair," Elizabeth Wenborn said, as friend Tara Johnston stood behind her, scissors in hand.
"Ever since I was a little girl, younger than my daughter is now, I've had it long.
"I'm the person who wears it down even when it's boiling hot.
"I love it, and cutting it off goes against every grain in my body."
Yet on Monday, after washing it twice with daughter Juliet looking on, Elizabeth, 34, watched as hairdresser Tara cut off her simple plait.
The drastic cut is all for a good cause, with the hair going to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children coping with hair loss owing to cancer and other illnesses.
But Elizabeth, mum to Juliet, two, and James, five, is also battling cancer, facing her first round of chemotherapy on Friday.
She noticed lumps in her breast at the end of March this year.
She booked a doctor's appointment and was there two days later.
She said: "There were seven bumps in all.
"I assumed it was hormonal, but I knew it was best to get it checked out, so I made an appointment as early as I could.
"In my case, it proved to be critical."
She was referred to Broomfield Hospital, where she underwent ultrasound tests on top of the usual mammogram.
She said: "It took that to pick it up – it's frightening that it could have been missed otherwise."
On April 17, sat next to husband Jay, 32, she was given the results.
"I couldn't look Jay in the eye," she said. "You almost expect to hear it, because you are expecting the worst, and there are so many people in the room. But it's awful, like being told a member of your family has died."
Jay, a police officer, said: "It was devastating.
"The worst case scenario just goes through your head."
But if there was anything that could be done, Elizabeth was determined to do it.
"I didn't break down and cry, I just asked what can be done.
"I wanted it done right then – I wanted it done yesterday. All I could think about were my children and my husband and how I had to be around for them."
By April 26, Elizabeth had undergone extensive surgery, a mastectomy of her right breast and six lymph nodes.
"I just wanted it out of me," she said. "I thought if it was out of me, it couldn't do any more harm.
"Doctors said if we had waited another month, it could have been much worse."
The next battle is to undergo months of chemotherapy, beginning on Friday and finishing in September on her daughter Juliet's third birthday.
Elizabeth said: "I know I could lose my hair, or feel ill, or get mouth ulcers.
"I might miss birthday parties or trips out or holidays.
"But if it helps me get better, it will all be worth it."
As well as donating her hair, she is also raising money for the charity, with people sponsoring her new hairstyle.
So far she has smashed her target, raising £4,307.
Anyone who would like to sponsor Elizabeth can visit www.justgiving.com/Elizabeth-Wenborn