Going bald for a great cause, with St. Baldrick’s Foundation

I’ve learned a lot about childhood cancer since my own daughter-in-law was diagnosed with Non-Hodgins Lymphoma a few years ago. She was treated successfully, and is vibrant and and healthy today, thank God. But there are many kids and young adults who don’t have such good fortune.

That’s why I’m so thankful for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, whose mission is to raise funds for childhood cancer research. My son Timothy, a web coder, works for them, at his workplace in Lincoln, Firespring.

Here are a few facts that you may not be aware of, taken from the St. Baldrick’s website:

  • More children are lost to cancer in the U.S. than any other disease—in fact, more than many other childhood diseases combined.
  • Before they turn 20, about 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will have cancer.
  • Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every 3 minutes.

Furthermore, treating a kid with cancer is a whole different ballgame from treating an adult.

In adult-onset cancer, the focus is to eliminate the fast-growing cells that are cancer, so the most common treatments–chemotherapy, radiation, and so on–are designed to kill those fast-growing cells. But in children, all cells are growing fast, so these treatments can’t be easily used on them. Even when they are used on kids or young adults, for the ones who survive the cancer, 95% will have chronic health problems by the time they are 45. 80% will have life-threatening or severe conditions. *Gulp.*

I personally hate those percentages. I personally think we could do better than that.

That’s why the St. Baldrick’s Foundation supports research that is focused on preventing the lifelong damage that results from surgeries, radiation and chemotherapies given while kids’ bodies and brains are just developing.

So as dire as this is, you’d think that federal funding for cancer research for kids would be a priority, right? But sadly, only 4% of all federal research dollars go to childhood cancer research. I don’t fancy that number much, either–do you?

But I am so impressed by the mission of St. Baldrick’s Foundation: simply put, to fund childhood cancer research. That’s it.

St. Baldrick’s is the largest private (non-government) funder of childhood cancer research grants. One way they raise money is to hold head-shaving events. Volunteers sign up to have their heads shaved, and then raise money from their friends and family to support childhood cancer research.

Again, from the website: “St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events began as a challenge between businessmen and have grown from one event in 2000 to over 1,300 events in 2013, raising critical funds for childhood cancer research. Events take place in pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, parks, malls, military bases, firehouses and any other place you can imagine.”

My son, Timothy, and my Dad, Jim, recently participated in a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event in Lincoln, Nebraska. We went to watch and to cheer for the participants, as they watched their hair blow away in a stiff cold wind that was blowing that night.

Here are some photos of the event. I’ll include contact information at the end of this post, so if you want to learn more about St. Baldrick’s and their mission, or if you want to get involved in donating, or with a head-shaving event, you can!

There are several things that made this evening memorable for me. First, of course, was learning so much about St. Baldrick’s and childhood cancer research. I’m glad that my eyes were opened to it.

Secondly, it was very cold and windy. If you’re going to suddenly lose all your hair–outside, no less–it would be advantageous to not lose it all when the temperature is suddenly dropping, and a stiff 35mph wind is blowing from the . . . hm. . . I don’t remember which direction it was blowing from. My dad would, though. But the guys (and girls) who were getting their heads shaved on this evening didn’t choose the weather!

Third: my dad and my son Timothy both showed up with their polka dot hats on, which made for some pretty fun photos. (Thanks, guys!)

Check it out:

Here’s my dad, shoulders hunched (probably regretting the light jacket he had grabbed, wishing for something warmer) waiting for his turn in the barber chair.

St. Baldrick's Fdn

A volunteer from the Bombshell Salon Suites in Lincoln prepares Dad for his haircut.

St. Baldrick's Fdn

Here goes!

balddad3

Before you knew it, it was over. Like so many of those little children who are going through cancer treatments, my dad was now bald. And by losing his hair, he had raised a bit of money for childhood cancer research. Well done, Dad.

"How's it feel, Grandpa?" "Smooth--and cold!!"

“How’s it feel, Grandpa?”
“Nice and smooth–and cold!!”

"Good thing I brought my hat!"

“Good thing I brought my hat!”

Now it was Timothy’s turn to submit his head to the clippers.

St. Baldrick's Fdn

Timothy had been growing his hair out for this day.

Timothy had been growing his hair out for this day.

Timothy does not like having his picture taken, so I know it took great self-control not to duck his head while our cameras clicked away.

It's for a great cause, eh, Tim?

It’s for a great cause, eh, Tim?

Tim’s haircut took a bit longer than Dad’s (cough). Not sure why.

St. Baldrick's Fdn

Nearly there!

Wow! Now that's a clean-shaved head!

Wow! Now that’s a clean-shaved head!

My favorite shot of the evening:

I love these guys.

I love these guys.

There were lots more head-shavings and lots of raffles going on throughout the evening, and Firespring raised over $21,000.00 for childhood cancer research at this single event.

Click here to learn more about Firespring. Or maybe you want to learn more about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and their mission to cure childhood cancers. Or maybe you are convicted that you just need to help, and you want to go directly to the Donation button!

Thanks for learning about childhood cancer research with me, Gentle Reader. I would imagine that I’m not the only one who has been personally touched by childhood cancer. Have you had first-hand knowledge of this dreaded disease? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

And speaking of pie . . . don’t forget that I’m running a giveaway this month, with a beautiful hand-turned French rolling pin made by my cute dad (yes, that’s him above), and as a bonus, my favorite pastry recipe comes along as a bonus!

Click below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh! One more thing: I’m sharing this post with my friend Jill over at The Prairie Homestead. Join me there, won’t cha?

 

 

13 thoughts on “Going bald for a great cause, with St. Baldrick’s Foundation

  1. Pete Kowpak

    Cudos go out to your dad and son for there contribution to such a wonderful cause! I personaly don’t know of any children that have cancer but I do know some kids that have other conditions and I feel for them. My late mother had cancer while she was pregnant with me and refused to abort me while going through chemotherapy. I truly believe that that is what caused the 2 gene mutation in my DNA, which caused my Crohn;s disease. There is not enough research being done on any level for any chronic conditions that the afflicted suffer from, except for the private groups like St. Baldrin’s, and these groups should be held in the highest regards.

  2. Beata

    The childhood cancer is frightening and I didn’t realise there are significant differences in approach to treatment. What a great contribution to a worthy cause run by St. Baldrick’s!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Beata,
      I didn’t realize it either, until I went to that event. I thought that cancer was cancer, but it just isn’t true. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

  3. Alana(@RamblinGarden)

    I lost a childhood friend to leukemia when she (and I) were 13. At that time (mid 1960’s) childhood leukemia was a death sentence. Then, years later, I met a homeschooler who got into homeschooling because her middle child was diagnosed with leukemia in 3rd grade. The daughter survived but suffered major after effects of her treatment. Now, a grandson of a former manager at work (he’s a teenager) is battling leukemia. I’ve been working up towards a post – or maybe a rant – about a certain aspect of cancer funding – and now I might just do it. I give your son and father Two Thumbs Up!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh, Alana. Cancer is such a scary thing, and I think it’s scarier when it hits a child or a young adult. Hopefully these efforts to raise money will raise awareness, too, and it will change things for the better.

  4. Ashley

    Wow, that is so amazing. It is my biggest fear to have one of my children’s face something so devastating as cancer. I agree, those percentages are TERRIBLE and it needs to be changed! This is a great thing to do tho, thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Yup, Timothy, and I have proof now that you let your hair get THAT long. But we’ll keep it between ourselves. 😉

  5. elly stornebrink

    Amy, I actually had my head shaved years ago to donate it towards a wig for children with cancer. I actually didn’t have any qualms about it and it grows eventually anyway! 😉 Your dad and brother were sweet to do the same: great photo of them! 🙂 <3

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