Unstoppable: How Lacy Gadegaard-West of Laced Hair Extensions Has Been Able To Thrive Despite an MS Diagnosis

Yitzi Weiner
May 22 · 7 min read
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Just because I look fine doesn’t mean that I’m okay. MS is a neurological disease that doesn’t necessarily always change your face, and although I appear to be fine, most of my symptoms are completely internal. My body is being attacked from the inside out. It’s easy to tell when someone has a broken bone or obvious physical injury, but internal ones are just as painful and often go unnoticed or overlooked.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Lacy Gadegaard-West, CEO, mother, and MS Warrior


Thank you for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

For the last eighteen years, I’ve been a licensed hairstylist. I lived in Las Vegas for eight of those years and traveled back and forth between Las Vegas and Los Angeles to work in the industry. During that time, I got married and had my first son, Noah. After he was born, I started my business, Laced Hair Extensions, and we had another move. Around that time, I got pregnant with my second son Lucas. Some unforeseen circumstances left me a single mom raising my two kids alone and trying to run my new business. A year after my divorce, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that ultimately led to my MS diagnosis. Fast forward four years to now, I have my MS pretty well controlled and a thriving business.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story of how you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? What did you do to not let that “stop you”?

Initially, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had seizures, memory loss, headaches, slurring of speech, and what seemed to be a stroke when my face went numb and became paralyzed. I couldn’t walk or talk temporarily. All of these symptoms led me to an eventual ER visit, where the MRI revealed what they believed in the beginning to be a brain tumor in an inoperable location. I began infusion treatments, and in the process lost 70% of my hair. After six months, the neurology team at the University of Utah confirmed that the brain lesion was multiple sclerosis, and the disease was progressive, meaning I’d eventually have more lesions. I was terrified by my MS diagnosis, but learning that it wasn’t an inoperable brain tumor was the best bad news I’ve ever received.

This question is always interesting to me, because being a single mom and business owner, you don’t really have the option to stop. I was terrified, as I didn’t know much about the disease. For a while, I held a mental picture of myself in a wheelchair, not able to take care of my kids. After the initial fear and shock had set in, I decided to become more educated on the symptoms and treatments of my condition. This led me to become involved with the , and now I sit on the board for both the Utah & Idaho chapters. I also created my own charity, the Laced Hair Foundation, which provides hair extensions to women suffering from hair loss due to medical conditions. Despite the struggles with my disease, my business flourished. Becoming heavily involved in so many things never gave me the chance to slow down or give up, and I’ve found comfort in helping others learn about the disease and giving them the gift of beautiful hair.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your chronic illness?

Looking back, I’ve come a long way from running my small business from my basement. Based out of our corporate warehouse location, we sell a full range of products we’ve created, including our hair extensions, a full academy training for stylists, Laced merchandise, and more. In order to serve local clients and stylists, I opened a full range salon and storefront, which have become vital parts of the brand. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with many celebrity stylists and have my hair worn by some of my favorite celebrities, from the Oscars red carpet to the exclusive Victoria’s Secret runway. As Laced Inc. has grown, I’ve enjoyed expanding to offer our clients stylists licensed in our methods at Laced Hair Salon in our home state of Utah, as well as launching our own education program, Laced Hair Academy, to help stylists get licensed nationwide. Throughout all of this, I’ve loved being a mom to my two boys. They’re nine and 11, and I consider my relationship with them my biggest accomplishment. This last year, I married my partner Hugh, and we’re super excited to announce that we have a baby on the way! The past few years have been some of the busiest and hardest of my life, but it’s so rewarding to look back and see that I’ve been able to push through and achieve my goals.

What advice would you give to other people who have MS?

I guess I would say that even though you feel alone at times, you’re not alone. Find something that inspires you. For me, helping others helps me to not focus on what I’m going through. Finding local charities or organizations surrounding MS is always a helpful way to find someone to talk to who really understands what you’re going through. Be patient with yourself and remember it’s okay to have an off day. Listen to your body and don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to take a day off every now and then.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

One of my best friends, Susan Peterson, is an inspiring founder and CEO. She’s always pushed me to create and do more with my business. She was also the first person at my hospital bedside when I was initially diagnosed with a brain tumor and has constantly been at my side when I need her since. She’s always there for me, whether it’s giving great business advice, encouraging me to push myself, or supporting me in my own business expansion efforts.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When I was initially receiving infusion treatments and dealing with massive hair loss, I met countless women in the same boat struggling with cancer, autoimmune diseases, and many other ailments. As we got closer and discussed our lives, I heard their desire for extensions mentioned countless times, but due to crushing medical debt, they were out of reach to most women undergoing such intense treatment. For this reason, I immediately started working on what’s now the Laced Hair Foundation. It’s a registered non-profit dedicated to helping women look and feel their best in spite of their medical conditions. We accept nominations for recipients of Laced Hair free of charge and send hair extensions out to women weekly in hopes of helping restore and emphasize the confidence and strength we see in them. While the Laced Hair Foundation is still relatively new, I’m ecstatic with what we’ve been able to do so far and hope to help as many women as we possibly can. By all means, if you know someone you’d like to nominate, head over to the Foundation page on lacedhair.com!

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood about MS or knew about people who live with an invisible illness” and why.

Just because I look fine doesn’t mean that I’m okay. MS is a neurological disease that doesn’t necessarily always change your face, and although I appear to be fine, most of my symptoms are completely internal. My body is being attacked from the inside out. It’s easy to tell when someone has a broken bone or obvious physical injury, but internal ones are just as painful and often go unnoticed or overlooked.

I don’t use MS as an excuse, but I do have good and bad days. There are times I don’t have full control of my body. Not being able to accomplish everyday tasks, like rolling out of bed in the morning, is hard, but other days I’m able to get up feeling completely fine.

MS is different for everyone, so my symptoms might be different from your family member or friend that also struggles with the disease.

Being sleepy or tired isn’t the same as the chronic fatigue people living with MS battle with. There are times I get the feeling of complete exhaustion despite getting plenty of sleep. Often with being so tired, my average day-to-day fatigue can feel like the worst form of jet lag.

My MS symptoms and journey are always changing. MS can affect my entire brain, my movement, my memory, and my speech. Sometimes I’m more prone to forgetting things, or not being able to produce the right words to explain my thoughts. Luckily, I’m usually able to laugh off these moments.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Happiness is a choice” — I didn’t choose to have a chronic illness, but I can choose to still be happy despite all the other issues I’m facing in a given moment.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)

I can’t describe how much I look up to and love Ellen Degeneres. I remember being in seventh grade in the 90s and watching her TV show as she came out. I’ve always marveled at how brave she was for doing that and admire her immensely. I’ve always loved her comedy as well. She has a unique way of being so funny but also making people feel better about themselves. I love the way she gives back to the women who support her show and all that she does to bring awareness to issues in our world.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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