Saturday I participated in a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser event. It’s an event where you offer to shave your head for money to raise research funding and spread awareness for Childhood Cancers.
Over the course of 3 years, I have watched 4 sets of parents deal with a dreaded diagnosis. They endured watching their child suffering for months on end and ultimately earn their wings. I had donated to cancer research before, but I felt like I wanted to do more.
Shaving your head as man is one thing. Shaving your head as woman is a very different, personal thing.
As I wrestled with it for a week or so, I finally came to the conclusion that I could live with a temporary bald head for a few months. Living with the regret of not doing something I felt I should do in my heart would have weighed much heavier.
My goal was $2000 and in 2 weeks, friends, family and coworkers donated $2,935!! I was completely amazed, encouraged and thankful by the amount of generosity and compassion by so many!!
Honestly I set what I thought was a pretty high price thinking there was still a selfish, slight chance I might not have to shave all my hair off!
I lost that bet.
And I am so thankful I did.
As I hinged closer and closer towards my goal, my youngest daughter, age 6, became pretty anxious with the whole idea of mommy being bald – to the point of tears. She was fearful I would look like the bald baby dolls that freak her out…she has never been a fan of the bald baby dolls. She is a stuffed animal kinda kid.
It was to the point where I almost backed out. I mean, I wanted to do something great for these kids that need help, but I didn’t want to do it at the expense of my own little girls emotional health.
The next few days opened up more discussion between us. She had some hard and very good questions. Questions that only made my resolve to do this stronger. Questions like…”Mommy, what if you shave your head but there is still cancer? What if you just did all this for nothing?” And, “What if I get cancer and die?”
Both of these questions hit me hard. I had to decide if my 6 year old could handle the truth. The real truth. The bald ugly truth.
“The truth is…I will not stop cancer by shaving my head on Saturday. But it will still not be in vain. I will raise a small amount of money compared to the enormous need. But more importantly I will be spreading awareness that Childhood Cancers are the least funded of all other cancers combined”.
“The truth is…I cannot promise that you will never get cancer. And the truth is, that one day you will die. I hope that is 100 years from now. But by shaving my head, I am taking one step towards helping kids that are less fortunate than you are right now. I pray you never get it, and big sissy never gets it, and I never get it. The chances are actually very, very small. But if you did…we will know that we did something towards the cause – and maybe…maybe the seeds we are planting today will help some kid out there in future tomorrow…maybe even you”!
By the time I had passed my goal, she had come to a peaceful place about it. We were driving a few days before the event and she said in a very confident tone…”You know…one day I might even shave my head, mommy. Probably when I am older”.
I did this for a little boy named Sam Bish, and another little girl named Myah Knecht, and another little boy named Gavin Rupp, and another little girl named Isabella Santos. And for their parents. I wanted to show them – people actually care. You are not alone. Your beautiful child is not forgotten. And most of all – I am mad as hell about it. Cancer sucks! Childhood cancer sucks big time! To stand around and do nothing is total bullshit!
Ok. sorry – had to get real there. Sorry to offend some of you, but that IS the hard, ugly bald truth.
Ironically in the end…I didn’t only do it for those kids. I apparently also did this for my own girls. I am incredibly thankful they are healthy. I don’t take it for granted. But it turns out I may have helped them in other ways too. Be brave little girls! Stand up and dare to be a little crazy to do the right thing! Don’t let pride, appearance, vanity, pride or fear stop you!
And ironically…I did not realize how empowering it would be for me. I had no clue. My vanity thought I would look and feel COMPLETELY ridiculous…possibly scary. I thought I might also feel like a fool or a weirdo – for doing something so extreme for kids that I am not even related to. I am embarrassed to even admit that, but – we are talking about the bald truth here.
Instead and very surprisingly…I feel pretty bold. I am comfortable in my own skin. I thought I might want to hide. I even bought a wig just in case my youngest daughter needed me to look a little more normal. Instead…I look ridiculous in the wig, my daughters LOVE to rub my “tennis ball head” and the littlest one that was so scared says she wishes my hair was always like this! She even removed my hat a few times in public – at her schools Fun Fest…in front of all her friends!
That my friends…is a huge endorsement.
Several friends have even went so far as to say that I should keep this look. I have to question…was my hair style THAT bad before? and…WTH are you all thinking? And lastly…my husband was thankfully incredibly supportive but even he has a limit.
So…no, I will not remain bald. But thank you.
I don’t have to.
The bald truth is that I am forever changed. I will keep that with me always. I did something I wasn’t sure I could do, but knew I had to do. And for the next few months as my stubbly hair grows out I get to continue to spread the important message of why I did it. And well beyond that I will continue to share why Childhood Cancers need funding.
But I don’t need to be bald to do that.
In the beginning I was fearful and doubtful. But once I made the decision – and all I had to do was look at the faces of the beautiful kids that should be having birthdays this year but won’t – I never looked back.
I am so glad I didn’t chicken out. For their sakes…and mine.
And THAT is the whole bald truth.