Baring it All! - Going Bald for Cancer Research UK

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

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...)


  • At November 03, 2006, Anonymous brian said…

    Morning Annelisa,

    You are doing a very brave and wonderful thing with your hair. Friends like you are what makes life so precious. Speaking up in front of all those kids takes a good deal of courage as well.

    Thanks for the link, and that is an amazing coincidence about the poem! Small world. :)

    Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting.

  • At November 03, 2006, Blogger Annelisa said…

    Thanks Brian - I appreciate your encouragement (to be honest, it's a lot more work/ emotional involvement than I thought it would be!)

    I'm kind of enjoying the feeling like, after a couple of years of just 'being there', I'm finally doing something that might make the teeniest bit of difference in the future!

    Yes, it truly was an amazing coincidence - I'd never heard it before, then twice over in two days, from different sides of the world! Cool!

    Have a good weekend yourself!

  • At November 06, 2006, Blogger Mother of Invention said…

    You've reached a lot of kids and they won't forget that. They may draw on it some day for their own friends.

  • At November 06, 2006, Blogger Annelisa said…

    I've already seen how they want to be 'doing something' themselves, and how enthusiastic they are to make a contribution (and I don't just mean the wisecracks! :-))

    I reckon you must've reached a fair few kids yourself - your wonderful teaching methods, and your joy of teaching is sure to have rubbed off on a lot of kids - I don't think they'll forget you when they grow up!


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