It’s When the Whole World Knows {Vanessa Hart – Childhood Cancer}

This is the second post in a fundraiser and series on Childhood Cancer.

* * * *

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.

sep 09 (31)

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?



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.

* * * * *

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.

Please give.

We can be a part of this puzzle.  A small part perhaps, but a part nonetheless.

DONATE to fight childhood cancer.

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.

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1

    Those babies are beyond beautiful. Thankyou for sharing this story, it is painful but it needs to be told.

  2. 2

    Have you heard of this movie?
    It is about a family who find out their young son has cancer. Thought of this post when I saw that!
    tacy´s last blog post ..Pregnancy Update~ 20 Weeks!

  3. 3

    Thanks for sharing this story, Jeannett. My heart breaks. :(
    Anne´s last blog post ..<< my week in review: 3/8-14

  4. 4

    A first grader (and former student of mine) at the school where I teach kindergarten walked proudly into school today with her freshly shaven head. She was sporting a St. Baldrick’s t-shirt and announced that she shaved her hair so that other kids wouldn’t have to lose theirs. I was so proud of her and her determination to make a difference at such a young age. I couldn’t help but think about your current series. Thanks for continuing to be used by God to open my eyes to the big world around me.
    laurie´s last blog post ..difficult decisions

  5. 5

    Oh boy, did you ever hit the nail on the head Vanessa. My little guy is currently undergoing treatment for bilateral Wilms’ tumor. I cried when he was diagnosed, was a total mess for two weeks. I managed to pull it together as we hit the whirlwind of port insertion, pre-chemo tests, and the first round of chemo. Then there came that day 11 days later when I looked down and realized he had lost a chunk of hair from the top of his head. It made it real.

  6. 6

    I think you’re amazing. My 5 year old’s hair is growing back and she can’t wait to be able to have me do braids in her hair again like her little sister (3). My little girl was diagnosed with ALL in May and within the fist month started to loose her hair. We had a head shaving party the evening she decided to take the rest of it off. I couldn’t do it. I balled my eyes out the entire time and I think that was the first time I really cried. But I still couldn’t bring myself to take mine off too. I re-cried when my husband shaved his again for St. Baldricks because it brought back all those memories that are still to close to the surface. Cried again reading this too. So I think you ladies are amazing that you can do it and wanted you to know that.

  7. 7

    I was standing in the dog food aisle at Walmart, talking to my Mom on the phone when she suddenly went silent. After a long pause, she tearfully told me that she was holding a handful of her hair. It had started. I lost it. I was a mess. At Walmart. In the dog food aisle. This year will be 8 years cancer free. She went through 6 months of chemo and radiation, but I think that moment was the most difficult for both of us. It really was the outer indication that something was wrong inside her body.
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