Baring it All! - Going Bald for Cancer Research UK

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

21 Days - you're kidding right? Just 3 weeks???


I came to write something, thinking I have absolutely nothing to say today - I'm still queasy, and I've still got two kids at home, who I feel should've recovered completely by now, but haven't! :-(

However, writing the title, and seeing how long is left until the Big Bad Hair Day gave me a bit of a shock - Only three weeks? And, the Just Giving thermometer hasn't moved the whole time I've been lying here! :-(

So, according to that, I'm still under half way. I think I can rustle up a bit more support, but another £500? Darn, I'd better get out of my sick bed and do some serious canvassing!!!

But, I've got no energy. Whatsoever.

Ok, I'm going to give myself the rest of today to recover, and then, Hell or high water (where does that expression come from?), I'm going to shift myself into action tomorrow - back to work and back to work on the fundraising!

Monday, November 27, 2006

23 Days - yeughk!

Well, you might wonder where I've been hiding... Two of the kids have been ill over the weekend, and today it's gotten me :-(

My hair, though in plaits, has not withstood lying down on it all day, and I'm just glad there's not a mirror where I'm sitting!!!

I'll attempt to say something of value tomorrow, but just now I'm going to crawl back under the blanket, and bid you goodnight!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

25 Days... still plodding...

As I sit here, the countdown clock at the top of the page says 25 days exactly. 25 days of hair left. 25 days to try to reach the $1000 (according to sums, $477 (inc the tax reclaimed) has been already raised, and the girls who went round Ticehurst said they'd raised a further $60, though I haven't seen them back with it yet... Hey, maybe they managed to collect more at Wadhurst, who knows!

Anyway, that would make about $537 (read pounds where the dollar sign is - I'm on the pc that's not got the proper keyboard!). And I haven't yet counted any tax back on the sponsor forms, as I'm still trying to see if the people who ticked the box, but haven't given their home address, might yet do so. But, there's probably at least another tenner there so far, so that would be about $547 - $550!

I haven't checked up on the Primary school sponsor form yet, nor have I talked to the 6th formers or the last house (Ash?). I also haven't yet done the local shops/ businesses [I just haven't had the time!] So hopefully that will add a wee bit. And, maybe if those teachers and staff who haven't yet 'got a round to it' added their bit... Well, maybe we'll get there!

Who else can I ask? Where else can I ask? Hmmm, it's difficult to think about it when worrying about sick children. So, I think I'll leave the question for another day....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

27 Days

(My son's at home ill (again!) today, so I've got time to do a 'proper' post...)

Julia - 6th form at UCC

I thought it was 28 Days to go... so , just as well I put that countdown bar in the title!!!

Something one of the students said has been niggling at me.

One lunchtime, some girls were building model cells, and while they were busy at that, I was busy sorting out the next lesson in the same lab. We talked for a while about what I was doing and why. Then we went onto the subject of one of the girl's mother's friends (the aquaintance being closer than the length of the description of aquaintance here!) having cancer.

She said she'd been told by her mother that the cancer was "eating away at her friend", which I was sad to hear. There's too many people in the world with this horrible disease. And each person has a life-story to tell. Each one is a person. Not a statistic. Not a memory the moment they discover they have cancer (I know a couple of people who've found that the reaction of others is to immediately count you as 'already gone'!!). Not simply the epitome of the illness. A real life person, who still has a lot of living to do!

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I've been dwelling on the image of cancer 'eating away' at the body. It's a strange expression, in that cancer is a growth of cells, not a reduction... Seems to me that (and I've heard people use the expression several times before) it is opposite to what happens. I suppose, what could be meant is that sometimes a person loses their appetite, especially if they feel ill with the treatment, or with pain, or sometimes with the drugs used to supress pain. But what it sounds like they mean is that their loss of weight is attributed directly to the cancer... (I don't believe it usually is).

The use of the expression made me wonder afterwards whether the student actually knew what the illness was, or whether the description was apt because she'd seen her mother' s friend losing weight.

Thing is, it's not always like that. My friend, Julia, has been carefully watching what she eats - removing anything that's not organic; watching there's not too much soya (containing chemicals which mimic the hormone oestrogen (I think), and which is therefore counterproductive when you've got a hormone-loving type cancer); reducing fats and sugars; cutting out alcohol. She's excercised - daily walks and some yoga. And most of the time she's energetic and humerous and enjoys just being alive!

You really wouldn't know she lives with cancer! In fact, as I've often said to her, most of the time she looks healthier than me! :-)

Our teenage pledge to live life to the full...

It's only really recently that those little blobs of cancer cells, that broke off and got carried round the body before she was treated the first time, started to grow again. For the last few years she's had it well under control. And (I heard from her yesterday) the treatment seems to be working - she can breathe clearer again, whatever was making her eye squinty has cleared off, and the pain's gone. So, the chemo seems to be doing its job (Great News!) and she sounded as cheerful as ever! (As predicted, she went bald after the third Chemo, so that's the only obvious sign she's still going through treatment. Well, along with being totally zonked for half the week....)

Point is - though she has the illness, and though she needs treatment every now and then - she carries on her life. It didn't simply 'stop' when she found she had cancer. Most of the time she eats well, stays healthy. She is living. Not dying. And when I hear expressions like the one above, I feel that its already 'striking someone off the list'. It's putting them in the category 'not much longer'. This shouldn't be. Each new day, new hope may be found. Each new day is a day to be glad to be alive (for any of us!). And each new day, one might hope a new treatment can be found to combat the cause or the effects of cancer.

No one knows how long they've got. Not you. Not me. Not anyone. Many surprise themselves and others, by being 'miracles' who beat the illness, or who live way past an expected time. In fact, my friend tells me they no longer tell you how long you supposedly have to live, because people tend to go by that, and their subconscious works on keeping to it!!

I know of someone, a boyfriend of a friend, who had lung cancer, and was told he had maximum 6 months to live. Well, he did the Bristol Diet thing (treating the whole person, not just the body), and when he went for one of his check ups they proclaimed him 'all clear'! Years later, this is still so...

So, it is possible.

That doesn't mean a person should be under pressure to perform miracles. That's one thing Julia has said - having heard of other people's miraculous cures, everyone looks to you to do the same. And then you feel guilty for not succeeding!! On top of all the worries about the illness itself. That's crazy! But, trying out new things, regardless of how well they work, may open a person to being happier about themselves, or teach them to relax, or say 'no'.

Who knows where learning a new idea will take you....

Bristol Cancer Centre - a view by Saga Health

Bristol Cancer Help Centre - contact

Photo-shoot for our design business 'Machu Picchu' about 20 years ago
- taking a few risks...
(not advisable - I broke the heels off my new boots! )

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

29 Days - one footstep joins another

Well, I'd like to say we were wizzing towards the target, but we're not. It's a slow ol' plod, one step at the time. But, you know what? It's a really nice walk - some steps are little, and some bigger, but each is taken in the right direction. And each is a contribution towards reaching the goal.

Today, I checked out the main staffroom sponsor form - there was another donor today (I've been told by quite a few people they keep forgetting! Still, there's time left...) - Thanks Beryl!

Then I checked out the Sports Hall, and there was a couple of donors there - thanks Paige and Andrea, and whoever put the change in the box (mind you, I haven't checked it wasn't buttons yet! :-))
And then, more thanks to Ann, David and Roy in the butchers, Wadhurst - I go there regularly, and minced them into submission to sign! :-)

We've still got quite a way to go, so keep on plodding, guys!

Oh, and if you happen to have a business in the local villages, one of the kids at school rightly pointed out I should be asking you too - so please have a bucket full of gold ready for my arrival (failing that, so paper notes always go down well) - it's for a good cause! :-)

Monday, November 20, 2006

1 month to go!

One month today, and my hair will be gone (Why, oh why, did I start so early? The waiting's excrutiating!!! :-S)

Another blogger, who kindly donated, helping me to reach my target is Topchamp - thank you!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

32 Days - My Last Plaits - pics

These two pics were taken by my daughter this morning, for the days when I have no hair :-)

Even plaited up it's a fair old length!

(ehm... hurry up - it might be sunny, but it's freezin' out here! :-D )

Friday, November 17, 2006

33 Days - plaits

It's nearly 3am and I finally finished doing my plaits! Hooooray! :-D

(maybe piccie tomorrow...)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

34 Days - (what happened to 35?)

Ok, I don't know what's been happening over the last few days - I've lost track a little, with lots of stuff going on, and things to do!

So, let's see if I can remember...

Yesterday, I spoke in front of 'Hawthorne' House years 7 & 8 [the upper school were doing something in the Hall - I think it was watching the 6th formers performing 'Fame', which they are showing to the public tonight (Thursday), tomorrow and 2 performances on Saturday]

Because the 6th formers had taken over the main hall, the Hawthorne assembly was held in the sports hall, and the kids were sat on the ground (just like primary! :-) ) which was kind of strange. I was introduced, and one of the teachers holding the assembly (naming no names! :-D ) whispered as I went passed, "Take all the time you need - as long as you can- we can't show the dvd clip we were going to!" Yoikes! They're expecting me to fill in time??!!! No pressure, like!

I don't think I did toooooo bad - managed to say the relevant stuff - why, where, how much I want to raise, this blog, and ended with another teacher taking the collection box off me I'd showed to the kids to recognise it... ehm, I also challenged them to beat the amazing $32 raised by Oak House! [couldn't resist... :-)] Legs still felt like jelly when I left the hall though...

But, on the way out, one of the sports hall receptionists said she would sponsor me, and would I bring a form over? (oh yes, course I can! Back in zero point 5 seconds! - and I was too)

Another kind act was by Diane Baker, who took a fly-leaflet home, and asked her hubby to take it into work... Apparently (sorry guys at hubby's work) it's pinned up on some noticeboard... Thanks Diane. Hopefully someone there might add a donation into the pot!

Last night, I'd planned to plait my hair up for the last time, possibly, ever! Talk about 'thwarted' - First , C puked up, and I had to leave work pronto! Then J came home not feeling well, and had to lie down... of course, this would also all have to happen on parent's consultation evening, wouldn't it?

Then, later, just as I was thinking - "Yes! I can do it now!" (all kids being occupied in one form or another), R extracted a letter from her bookbag - "Here mummy, read this - it's important!"
Of course it was 'important'! It was another bug-busting letter. The ones I've grown to dread...
For years, whenever I've had one of these letters, it's spelt an evening of heavy hair conditioning, along with hours of combing 5 heads- 'just in case'! The worst hair to do being mine...

Well, we were all bug-free and I sighed with relief as I put the combs away... No fine-combing the whole family's heads alternate days for a fortnight! (thank goodness!)

But, no plaits either :-(

And tonight's 'running round' night, where I'm exclusively available for being taxi service for the kids (though C's not feeling up to scouts, having returned to school today, and been 'washed out', so that's one less double journey to make)... Seeing as the plaiting takes 3 - 4 hours, I don't think I'm going to have long enough to do it today (though I could make a start, and go around with half a head plaited tomorrow... :-)).

Also, at Brownies, Tawny Owl asked me if I would pop in at the beginning of one meeting, so they can measure my hair properly {so they can work out the best way to sponsor me! - nice folks! :-) }... hmmm, I've just thought. If I plait my hair, it will be a couple of inches shorter. But I can't not plait it - it's my last chance... On this one I'm going to have to be selfish. I love having my hair up in plaits, and that's one thing I'm really going to miss (not going to miss the bug-busting though :-) )

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

36 Days - kids ill

Just a quick one today, as the kids aren't well...

I had a visit from my lovely pussy-cat friends Buddy and Finnigan, and they did a really nice thing - they put a post on their blog for all their feline friends to visit! Well, I've had some furry wonderful visitors since then (and since a posting also went on the Cat Blogosphere -with more thanks to Sanjee and the House of the Mostly Black Cats!-) Sanjee and friends also generously made a donation - thanks again cool cats!

Monday, November 13, 2006

37 Days - 3 Gold Stars!

Those three stars came to the prep room last week, and took away collection boxes. They collected £21 the first round, and just over £10 the second. Then (my absolute heroines!) they took the boxes home with them at the end of last week, and collected money all round Ticehurst!

Natalie told me today they'd 'been to every house in the village' and collected another £60. She also said that next week they were going to catch the bus into Wadhurst, and do the rounds there (so, if you see them, tell them what a wonderful thing they're doing, won't you - and give a little, if you can!)
These three girls deserve a mention all of their own:

Natalie Berry
Afton Carter
Tilly Rummery

As I said - three solid gold stars!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

38 Days ( I think!)

Well, that was a lovely weekend I spent with my friends... relaxing and enjoyable in their new home on the coast.

We went for walks, and took in the views. We also visited an old friend of theirs, whos husband sadly died of cancer about 3 years ago. Of course, they are all still missing him. I remember once having a card evening with the couple, and what a fun time we had...

I hope what I am doing (with the help of all those supporting me) will go a little way to prevent the longer term sadness and effect on people's lives, when they have to see someone they care about living with such an illness.

My friends had a few ideas themselves about how I should go about the 'big shave' (I've now been nicknamed "Baldy-to-be" by them! :-D ). One of the ideas was to get a big name/ well known hair stylist to perform the ghastly deed [I'll certainly think about it...]

Then, just before leaving, they gave me a very generous cheque towards the target, for which I am really grateful! And the words of support (ehm... apart from the new nickname? :-) )were even more uplifting, and buoyed me up no end -

Thanks Chris & Mary!!!

I believe the total contributions so far are roughly as follows :

Online at Just Giving = £178.00
(+ tax reclaimed from online donations = £36.67)
Collections from 'Oak' house = £32.34
Main staffroom sponsors (last checked thursday 8 th Nov) = £95.00
Science staffroom sponsors = £10
Other donors = £35

Estimated total so far = £387.01 !!!!

Good going folks - that's nearly 40% of the target! Well done everyone - we're getting there :-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

42 Days

Just a quick post tonight - I'm absolutely shattered! I think there was just three things I wanted to say:

  1. Wow! to the girls from 'Oak' , who (without asking them) came and fetched the collecting boxes from the staffroom, and gave up their lunchtime to rustle up some more funds. They managed to raise another $10.74 (that's supposed to be pounds, but the dogs knocked the laptop on the floor, and now it's behaving all peculiar! :-S ), which brings the total for Oak house to $32.34!!! On top of this, all three asked to take a box home with them, so that the can collect from their local areas. Good luck, girls! And a special thank you. I did ask for, and write down, your names, but somewhere between the school and home, I managed to lose it! Sorry. If you wouldn't mind, could you come and let me know who you are on Monday, so I can acknowledge your good deed
  2. Thanks to all those in the main staffroom, who've generously added their names to the list of sponsors/ donators - names I collected so far are in the sidebar (if you wish your name removed, please let me know, but I'd like to thank you all for what you are doing...)
  3. Over the last week or two, any number of times, people come up to me, and tell me how 'brave' I am to lop of all my hair. Well, you know how, when you're feeling rather vulnerable, and you're trying to be strong, and you've been laughing and joking about things, no problem, then someone says to you, "Are you alright?" in a concerned voice... and you crack? Your lip trembles, your eyes well up, and kaput! You're off! Well, I'm feeling a bit like that. I'm enjoying all the palava of getting one thing after another sorted, and I'm totally wallowing in the kindness of people - not only of donations, but of words of support and enthusiasm... Then someone says, "Oh, you're brave!" or something such like, and suddenly (like it's a switch or something) my insides turn to mush, and I wonder what the heck I'm doing!?!! I like my hair - it's long, and I can do stuff to it. In fact, my favourite hairstyle is plaiting it all up in teeny tiny plaits, and just leaving it like that for a couple of months [note to self: do first opportunity - it'll be the last chance you get for a veeeeery long time!] Anyway, point is, I suddenly don't feel so brave, and want to pretend it wasn't really me in that photo (well, no-one could recognise me from it anyway!) So, pleeease, don't tell me I'm brave. Tell me I'm mad, or a fool, or just plain doing a good thing (you'll have a smile for that one! :-) Just not that I'm 'brave!' -Thanks!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

43 Days - yowser!

I'm so impressed with how everyone's digging in their pockets and supporting me! The two girls who took the collection box round to the 'Oak' house classes came back with £21.60 (well done Oak!). I happen to know that children were very generous, putting their last pennies and snack money into the box - So, a big thank you, guys!

Then, I went over and spoke in a support staff meeting in the main staffroom, bringing with me a sponsor form. After the meeting, I left it on the table... and when I returned later to photocopy, I found there was a grand total of £60 on there already - that is so cool! Well done everyone who's put there name down already (don't forget to tick the box at the side, and put your home address [not work - they don't accept that] so we can collect the tax for the Cancer Research UK fund as well !)

Another donation that moved me wasn't a big one, but it was significant in that it was made by someone (well, two cats actually! :-)) on the other side of the Atlantic, who'd read my blog... A note was left on yesterday's post.

So, estimate of total so far is around £300

Put up a whole lot of flyers over the school today (will do some more elsewhere tomorrow), and kept getting stopped by kids asking questions such as, "Are you really going to shave your head?" and "How much are you going to get?"

One young lass asked me the latter question. I told her "Not less than £1000" and pointed to one of the flyers nearby. As I walked away, I heard her say to her friends "My mum raised £8000!" (ok, that put me in my place... :-)) So, as I passed again a short while later, I checked I'd heard right. Sure enough, her mother's friend had also had cancer, and over the period of a year she'd raised £8000 and walked the Great Wall of China - Well done that mum!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dona Nobis Pacem

44 Days - and 1/5th of the way to target!

To start, just a reminder where the Just Giving donation page is.

Now, the good news - we've just passed £200!!! That's one fifth of the way to the target! Thank you everyone who's donated so far :-D :-D

Recent donations have come from Pip (A special big thank you to her for all the help and advice she's been giving me too!) and from Penelope Brett (hope your daughter didn't bully you into it! :-) )

I can't remember if I answered Caroline Roberts's comment- hats are building up (I keep coming across them, and thinking 'that'll be handy!', and have some promised for Christmas too!) Luckily I have a little collection of my own anyway - I do love hats!!

Also, I have to say Kath, you are forgiven for putting me on the spot about speaking in assembly - You've been fantastic, getting the kids to go round with the collection boxes to all the classes in your 'house'! I don't know how much has been raised yet (I had my own collection to make - my daughter) but, whatever it is, thank you for your great help. (And yes, I will get round to talking with the other 2 houses about speaking in their assemblies.... ehm... plenty of time yet!). Oh, and of course thanks to the girls who went round with the boxes!!

Also got the sponsor forms in circulation - I have a few ideas where they might best be available for all the millions of sponsors rushing to sign up!! :-) The first one signed on the dotted line this evening - the lovely mum who's been looking after my daughter all day (Thanks Diane! :-)) . So, now there's another £10 in the pot (actually £12.50 with tax - I'll keep pushing this as it really does make a difference - another 25%!), so we're creeping up to a quarter of the way there already - isn't everyone being so fantastic!

On a last note, I was chatting to a small group of kids from the lower school at lunchtime. They'd started by commenting on my going bald, and asking why I was doing it. Having repeated about my friend Julia, and the reasons the baldness has significance for me, and having had the mickey taken about my future shiny scalp (and their amazement I was going to actually do it!) we talked ended up talking about how it was affecting one of the girl's mother's friend, and her friend's sister, and how it ran through the family.

Sometimes I can't comprehend how many people are affected, either directly or indirectly, by this disease (go to any holistic healer/ doctor, and they will remind you 'disease' means 'not at ease', so something that isn't sitting right with your body/ mind...) The sadness I feel each time I hear of another person who is living with it, doesn't blunten with the hearing (sometimes I wish it would! :-( ) but grows all the time.

Each person's (I shouldn't say 'pain' and 'hardship' - that's not supposed to help with being positive- though that is what I'm thinking), life challenges (shall we say) seems to accumulate... and I'm finding butterflies (actually, I think they're bats!) flying round my stomach. Because, in a way, although I'm trying to do something to help, I really don't feel I am. Small drops in the ocean, and all that...

But, I suppose, if we can only be a small drop, then we should all try to join a stream, and that stream to join the sea...

We do what we can.

(There was something else I was going to say today, but I can't for the life of me think what it was! Maybe I'll remember tomorrow...)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

45 Days - Good Luck, Julia!

Just a quick note tonight. My friend, Julia (previously called 'Zena') is having another lot of Chemo tomorrow, after a break to settle physical side-effects. I just want to wish her well, and good luck with it - hope it goes OK!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

46 Days - Guy Fawkes Night (not!)

My friend Julia (I can now use her real name),
and I, messing about [ doing our "Morecombe
and Wise" impression :-D]
as teenagers

I'm beginning to feel like I'm just a potential haircut! :-(

This morning, whilst helping out at the Brownie jumble sale, I found myself talking about the headshave to a couple of the other helpers. Ok, I like to talk about it, because I'm kind of pleased other people are interested, and want to help/ donate.

Then I met someone in the village, who mentioned it, and wished me well. And again, this evening, when I gave a lift to my son and a couple of his friends, they said they'd read/ heard about it, and would like to donate.

Then again, tonight, at the firework display.

You know what? It's really, really cool so many people are rooting for me, and have said they will donate...But I'm beginning to panic whether anyone else is actually going to donate and whether I'll reach the target! :-S I keep on checking the Just Giving website... but no change...
I was sort of thinking/hoping there would be a slow, but steady-ish, trickle of donations. Crikey, I know there's over a month to go, but there was two when I started...

If everyone who's said they will put something in the pot does, then it'll be alright, but if they don't....well, then, that kind of puts me in a bit of a quandry. I need to reach the target. It's a goal I set because I thought it attainable... I hope I'm right. Shaving off my hair for less than that seems a cryin' shame!!! So, I really shouldn't.

I guess, what I mean, is that if I simply shave my hair off, and haven't raised a decent amount of funds, then it will be just a haircut :-(
There has to be a positive outcome for doing this. To be at least some little bit of help in the fight against cancer.

Of course, I don't intend to denegrate the wonderful donations made so far - they're great, and have got me off the starting line - but I don't want us to only raise this amount! I would like to know that there was enough to fund a small project, or make one feasible where otherwise it wouldn't have been. It might be 'the one' project that could change things around - hey, you never know!

So, an appeal: Would anyone (anyone!) please put something into the account (even if it's just £2 - I think that's the minimum they'll take), just so I know it's still on track? Thanks. I'd really appreciate it! :-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

47 Days - Another Donation

So, though this post is a bit late, I'm still counting it as for the 3rd November, because I haven't been to sleep yet...

Well, it was my day off today, and I went to visit my mum in her nursing home. It was worth the trip - I got the biggest smile ever!

And I gave a big smile too...

When my youngest daughter, R. , came back from school today, she brought with her another donation (sadly not one of funds - that appears to have been static for several days, so if you are waiting for the last minute - please don't! I'm looking all the time, and it's sooooo disappointing when the thermometer doesn't move...).

No, the donation my daughter brought back from school was a package - a plastic bag. I took it, curious what it might contain, and why she was giving it to me. As I opened it, I chuckled... I could see what one of the three items was - Red and furry with distinctive white trim - yep, a Santa's hat! But what really made me laugh were the little (or should I say 'huge') black protrusions - ears! Mickey Mouse ears! I tried the hat on (and no, I didn't get a photo of that) and imagined absolutely no hair coming out from beneath the trim.... :-D

Out from the bag also fell a postcard (Enid Blyton's Malory Towers) - the girls looked like they were having a bit of a laugh (with all their nice hairdos...), and on the back is a message of good luck, and "I thought these might come in handy!!" - Thanks Wendy, they will :-D I'll be sure to wear the Mickey-Santa hat after the headshave on the last day of term!!!

Whispering, giggling girls
Enid Blyton's 'Malory Towers'

[excuse the quality - haven't got a good zoom]

Thursday, November 02, 2006

48 Days - Snowball down a Mountain

Wow, what a day!

So, now I know what a snowball feels like, when it's been rolled over edge - onto a steep, snow-deep slope!

I put some of the collection boxes together during break, and changed the title of the posters (ehm, maybe 'Baring it All' isn't quite appropriate for a school noticeboard? :-)) and printed a few to try them out. Got one up next to a 'countdown' number 48 (which some kids were to be heard discussing only a short time later)

When I was over at the main building, I had several teachers wish me luck, and another lovely person come up and tell me she would sponsor me - it was so warming...

And then (and I'm going to name names, because she dropped me right in it!) Miss Lait came to visit me in my prep room... She told me she was doing an assembly on things people had done, or happened to them, which made them think differently, and would I like to join some 6th formers and say about my fundraising effort? I decided it was about time to come out of the prep room, and go 'school-wide' with this hair shaving thing! So, I agreed (then regretted it for the next few hours whilst the adrenalin bit holes in my stomach and nibbled the bones out of my legs, so I could hardly stand! Having my head shaved in front of loads of kids is one thing, but speak in front of them???)

After lunch, I nervously headed for the hall. I didn't think I could really tell all these children about my friend, and how she was going through chemo. Suddenly it felt too much to talk about. I knew, however, that if I was going to get the attention and support of the children, I would need to tell them why I was doing this seemingly bizarre thing.

Miss L. opened by a reciting poem by Robert Frost... [which, as an extremely weird coincidence, I read for the first time last night on 'Truth is Freedom'! ] With an air of unreality (and yet, oh so real), I listened to the stories of the 6th formers (noting they were equally nervous, but speaking nevertheless...) and found myself impressed with, not only their dreams, but their 'take' on the experiences they'd had. But, to be truly honest, that part went in a bit of a blur...

Then it came to my turn. I was introduced, and stood up, and thought of my friend going through chemo, and wanted to cry. It was all I could do not to! For a moment, when I started speaking, and my voice about gave out, I thought I was about to blow my school rep - not that it's much, right enough. Just didn't want to end up a blubbering wreck in front of a hall full of kids!

Somehow I got off the subject of how we'd become friends at the very same school some thirty odd years ago, and been friends ever since. I managed to mention that she was going through chemotherapy and had lost her hair, with only a quiver in my voice. And, by the last few seconds, I spoke a mite more confidently about looking out for posters and collecting boxes... then more or less collapsed back into the half-sized plastic chair with relief it's over! (How teachers do this all the time beats me!)

Ah, but was it? Afterwards, another teacher said, 'but, if you've spoken in the assembly for one 'house', surely you should do it for the other two?' and went on to say he would suggest it to the heads of the other two houses, so they wouldn't be left out (Thanks, Mr P!) Well, I suppose I'm secretly pleased everyone's paying so much attention, and being so helpful. And I am! Couldn't do it without all this support... even though I feel like that snowball, in the centre of an avalanche on the mountain... That'll teach me to yodel!

But what really touched me was, just afterwards, before leaving the hall, one of the 6th formers who'd been standing next to me speaking (actually, I believe she'd been saying she'd left and started her own business...?) came over and took a couple of pound coins out her purse, and put them into the collecting box I'd been waving around to show!! She'd thought I was 'doing a good thing'. So, I felt chuffed, and it renewed my hope in the next generation...

When I went to fetch my youngest daughter, the topic of conversation came naturally round to my new haircut (being as my hair was still loose from this afternoon in the hall), and it was some time before I realised my lovely daughter wasn't actually at the school! Nor could I find her on the way home. Back at the school, another search revealed no hiding child, and I was about to go into a full-blown panic [not true- I had already begun the full-blown panic :-( ], when her class teacher made the decision to phone home (even though I knew I'd locked the door, and she wouldn't be able to get in)... and the little ehm sweetheart answered. She'd remembered her key today! Relief washed over the adrenaline-gnawed bones, and I could've sunk to the floor. But, as you do, I went home and gave her a big hug.

Later, at brownies, the hair came up again (Tawny loved the 'Hair today, gone tomorrow!' comment, and I'm waiting for her to come up with a string of comments to match :-)) But, the nice thing about people is that they all want to help. And after mentioning someone else who'd been affected by cancer, Tawny said she would pass the message on to as many people as possible.

God, I love people! I reckon this is the sort of thing that happened during the 'Blitz' - People pulling together, each making their own contribution... (ok, a bit dramatic, but illustrative...)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

49 Days - Help!

No, I don't mean "Help!" in an "Oh my gawd, I'm in trouble!" sort of way. Nor am I saying it in a "Please help me!" way either (though, if you can tell me why I can't upload the images I've been attempting to for the last couple of days, I'd be grateful!)

No, why I wrote 'Help!' is because of all the wonderful offers of help I've been given, or offered, over the last couple of days. I've been greatly impressed by how much everyone wants to do something - anything. From sending emails to friends, to let them know what I'm doing; to offering to take a flyer home for their husband to take in to work and show round (probably to have a good laugh, at the very least! :-) ) and see if support can be drummed up in other places; or to simply telling me how they are following the blog to see what's going on.

All of these things people are doing are encouraging for me. But, more, it is an expression of how much people want to do something for cancer research. Any number of times, I've been told of someone who's got or had cancer, and how helpless the person has felt. And maybe they haven't turned that feeling into actually doing something at the time they felt it. Or, maybe they hope that no other person should ever go through what their loved ones, or they themselves, have gone through.

As I often quote (from an Amnesty photo on my wall), "Many little things done by many little people will change the face of the world." No one person alone feels powerful enough to make a major difference. And yet, all the people of the past, who've felt that they would do what they could, have advanced the level of treatment to what it is today. Life has been extended by years, and in many cases, life can return to 'normal' without the fear hanging over it.

So... We are 'those people', for the world of the future. What we can do to help today will extend lives, and save lives, in the future. Maybe it will be the life of our child, or grandchild that our efforts save. Or maybe of the life of a friend or partner. Whoever knows.

The alternative is not doing anything. I guess we can all imagine what that means...

No money = no medical advances
no medical advances = no hope
no hope = despair

Ok, that sounds dire. But then, for those who need help, it is. Most just need the knowledge that new advances are being made every day. That is enough. That is hope.

And that is what we can do. We can contribute to making those little medical advances happen every day. We can make a difference!