Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Mom, shave your head."

Last year, I participated as a shavee for St Baldrick’s to help raise money for children’s cancer research.  It was a bit selfish of me, to be honest.  I was seeking closure for what happened when I was a teen.  A friend of mine had been fighting lyukemia for years. We had drifted apart, and I took him for granted until one day my mom told me it was the end.  He was in the hospital, and they were asking for blood donors.  I suddenly valued his life the way I always should have and rushed to the blood donation center.  But they turned me away.  I was anemic and couldn’t donate blood.  Within a week, my friend lost his battle.  I felt useless, powerless, helpless.  Finally, by shaving my head, I was able to do something to help fight.  I couldn’t save him, but I could raise money to help scientists and doctors help other kids.
My daughters were part of the whole process.  First we sat down and talked about what I would be doing and what I would look like afterwards.  My younger daughter was a bit skeptical, but was also curious.  My older daughter was hesistant.  She had been very upset when I simply straightened my hair once, so the idea of me shaving my head freaked her a bit.  She understood – at least at a surface level – how scary cancer is, though.  My aunt, a very precious person who is an active presence in my girls’ lives, has been fighting cancer for the last few years.  Sofi reluctantly supported me.
My girls and their friends at last year's St Baldrick's event.
This year, I asked the girls if we should participate again and let them shave my head.  My younger daughter enthusiastically yelled, “YES!”  She had been upset during the shaving process last year, grabbing my hair as if fell and wrapping it in a blanket to save my blue curls, but then liked my bald head. 

My older daughter just as loudly said, “NO!”  So I said ok and started looking for other charities for us to be a part of this year.

The reason I needed Sofi's permission to participate in St Baldrick's is that we do this as a family. Frankly, my hair matters more to her than to me, so this really is her sacrifice. Whether it was all the talk about it at school or thinking about Aunt Marilyn (Cia-cia to Sofi), the other day in the car Sofi quietly said, "shave your head, Mom."

This year, the selfishness is about giving my daughter a sense of power.  I don’t want her to feel the way I did helplessly losing someone to cancer, only able to watch.  She now monitors our donation page and with each dollar, she feels stronger.  She is part of the battle now.  She made the choice to have my head shaved, she will be with me at the event, and she has even contributed her own money.  Every day Sofi prays, "God be with Cia-cia and don't let anybody else get cancer." She still cries when she prays for her great aunt, but she knows she is not alone. She knows that she is doing something to bring hope to others and to bring scientists money to fund their research.  That is worth every hair on my head.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Emma, I am so glad you shared your story. It is a wonderful message. I am working too grow my hair, so that next year I can raise money for Baldrick's as well as donate the locks. Good luck on you venture.