Baring it All! - Going Bald for Cancer Research UK

What would you give to see me lose all my long hair?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ooops! Gone and done it now: -64 days and counting...

Today, at work, I mentioned my idea (ie of shaving my head for charity) to a few people...

It started small, with "I've been thinking about shaving my head. What do you think?" (the words slipped out unintentionally, whilst my mind was occupied by the very serious business of eating my chicken tikka samosa.)
"Oh no! You can't do that - you've got such beautiul, long hair!"
"I was thinking of doing it for cancer research", I said, and the immediate response was"In that case, I would love to sponsor you!"

After a few people had said this, I begun to wonder seriously if I might actually go through with it. Although I didn't think she would object, I decided to suss out what our Headteacher thought of the idea (before throwing myself head-first under the razor!) Some people might not be appreciative of such an event being part of their organisation, especially with all the hype in the media about what employees should and shouldn't, could and couldn't wear. I figured that voluntary baldness might be a reason to object (I haven't dyed my hair green for the last couple of years for such a consideration). Not that it would have stopped me, but I would have focused elsewhere to publicise. I suppose I might also have been hoping she would object, and then I could have used it as a darned good hurdle for not doing it... As if!! Of course she didn't object - she was great! Very supportive. And, as she said, almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, whether directly or indirectly. (Damn! No excuse to not do it there...)

I also half-hoped that enough people would say, "Oh no, don't do that!!" for me to legitamately think I'd be totally mad to go ahead. Unfortunately, there wasn't any excuse not to do it from this angle either... Once they heard why I wanted to do it, they thought it a great idea.

I begun to realise that people were taking me seriously... even though I was making a joke of it, and even though I wasn't taking myself completely seriously - There was an anticipatory air round the place. Everyone I spoke to mentioned a name or two of someone they knew who'd had this cancer or that, and how the hair loss caused by chemotherapy caused this or that person to feel bad about themselves. It also upset people that they felt helpless in dealing with their friend/relative's feelings of inadequacy- However much you reassure them, they still feel that somehow they are 'failing' if they aren't getting better and that, if they get to the point of having further therapy they must have done something wrong. Or at least not done everything they could have done :-(

People I spoke to felt strongly that shaving my head would indeed draw attention to how important the loss of hair is to a person who is already feeling low with the cancer, and the tiredness of the therapy; and it would also be an appropriate way to raise the profile of cancer research generally, and to keep hope of future cures for presently untreatable aspects of the illness. At the same time, I wanted to point out that the hair loss signified a more positive aspect of the treatment, ie that the fast-renewing cells were being effectively targetted. In other words, the injections were doing what they were meant to do.

The man I spoke to from Cancer Research UK was really helpful and had a good laugh at how a moment of contemplation had develped into full-blown madness. He told me that a fundraising pack would be in the post today, and when I had sent back the registration form with details of what I intended to do (and by repeating my intention to him, there was an nagging feeling I had now passed the no-return point in my commitment), and then the organisation would help out in any way they could (posters /balloons /t-shirts etc for The Event. In the meantime I could ring if I had any queries.

Coming towards the end of the day, I approached a colleague, and said, " Oh my God, what have I done?" The date had somehow been set as the last day of term (everyone would be in a light mood, and I would be able to slope off afterwards if I wanted to :-)) We were discussing it as we entered the staff room... and staffrooms have many ears. Soon a declaration of intention had been (by my split personality?) made, and just everyone had some ideas of how to make it a really good event:

  • "Do it up on stage in front of the school - there'll be more enthusiasm if they get to see the event!"
  • "Get the kids to do various fund-raising activities to make them feel more directly involved"
  • "...maybe they could make a donation to be allowed to wear a pink accessory that day?"
  • "How about getting the drama teacher to do the shaving? - she'd add a theatrical touch for an exciting climax!"
  • "And, if you've got it plaited up (a common style for me) then you could raise more by letting the kids pay extra to chop off a plait each... for a price :-)"
  • "You've got to have some kind of count-down board!"
  • "Who's got a video to record it?" (isn't it enough to live through it once?!!!)
  • "The local paper would cover it, I'm sure!"

Oh, the enthusiasm! The creativity! The fait accompli...

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