This is the second post in a fundraiser and series on Childhood Cancer.
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Here’s a secret:
I don’t want to shave my head.
There are moments when it sounds appealing. Like this weekend when my family was getting ready for my niece’s wedding and I was running late and still had 20 minutes of hair-drying in front of me before I could even get dressed and put on my make up. And I was sweating. As I dried my hair. Gross. In that moment, I was kinda sorta maybe a little bit ok with being bald.
But most of the time, I’m not excited about it. Because I’m a girl and, as a whole, we tend to be a little insecure. Ok, fine. FINE. I’m insecure. I’m worried I’ll look fat(ter). I’m worried my kids will be upset by it (even though they swear they won’t). I’m an INTJ and I don’t love to talk to strangers and I’m worried about what I’ll say when people look at me funny, or if they’re bold enough, ask me why I’m bald.
And I can’t think of myself being bald without remembering when my baby was bald.
Brock was 11 months old when he was diagnosed with leukemia and he’d never even had a haircut before. I remember being more upset about this fact – that he hadn’t had his first haircut yet – than the thought of him losing his hair.
My aunt, who had given me my first haircut, came up to the hospital to cut his hair before it fell out. The doctors and nurses warned us over and over to be careful not to nick his head. In just one week, the chemo had already robbed his body of the ability to fight off any type of infection and, quite honestly, he could have died from something as innocuous as a cut. I hope that doesn’t sound dramatic – I’m really not trying to be. But at that time he had 0.0 white blood cells in his body. Which is 0.0 ways to battle an infection (which is why the fungal infection nearly took his life).
After she cut his hair, I was mad that I hadn’t done it sooner. Because he was so dang cute, and he looked like such a little man. And THEN I was sad about him losing his hair.
I asked the other ladies of 10 Strong how they felt when their child lost his/her hair and almost every single one replied with “That’s when everything felt real.” After diagnosis, you’re in a state of shock and the family goes into survival mode. But seeing a clump of your baby’s hair in your hand for the first time jars you back to reality. It’s an outward picture of what they’re fighting internally. It lets the whole world know “My child has cancer.” OK, maybe not the whole world, but at least everyone at Target. And let me tell you, you get a lot of stares pushing a bald baby in a shopping cart around Target.
For many moms, the pain and sadness, and quite honestly, the mess of their child losing hair over the course of a few weeks is too much to handle and they chose to shave their child’s head. It gives them a sense of control over all the uncontrollable things that are happening.
My friend Beth told me that of all the pictures they have from when her daughter Mia was going through treatment – photos of surgery, chemo, iv pokes, getting radiation – the pictures of Beth shaving Mia’s head were the only ones that brought tears for her.
“Mia looked so innocent and happy – no idea why I was shaving her head or what was going on in her body. It was the one thing that would tell the world she was sick. I never really cried in front of Mia except when I was shaving her head. I tried to hold it together but it hurt too bad.” – Beth, a 10 Strong mom
TeNeil is another 10 Strong mom. Her sweet girl Eden died from complications from neuroblastoma when she was just 22 months old. TeNeil said, “In hindsight, I remember thinking ‘This is so sad, but it will grow back.’ I never got to fix her hair again…”
Eden was diagnosed and started chemo on August 16, 2010. They shaved her head on September 1. She died on December 26.
Childhood cancer is ugly. But these bald babies?
THEY. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.
So, no. I don’t want to shave my head. But I will. For Brock. And Mia. And Eden. And Charlie and Shane and Molly and Reece and Jordan and Branagh and Nathan. And Jeannett’s kids. And yours. Because they deserve better.
Besides, it’s not REALLY about the hair.
It’s about raising money that will make a difference.
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On March 24th, Vanessa and 10 other moms will shave their heads.
Childhood cancer needs more funding. (See THIS if you missed it for a great infographic on the funding gap.)
We’ve set up a variety of ways you can help support this fundraiser in a tangible way.
We can be a part of this puzzle. A small part perhaps, but a part nonetheless.
And then share…with your Facebook friends, pin on Pinterest, tweet…because if it were YOUR child you’d be desperate and yelling from the rooftops.
Let’s be desperate and yell from the rooftops for those beautiful bald babies together.
We are mamas.
It’s what we do.
For each other.