Minutes before the big moment my mum and brother were still trying to convince me to switch buzzers. The ones I had borrowed had no guard on them—meaning I was going to be very, very bald.
But the past four months of opposition and scrutiny had turned me stubborn and bold. If I was going to shave my head, I was going to go all the way.
The plan to shave my head started long before this moment—sparked by an episode of Fear Factor where a woman almost passed on a million dollars because it meant shaving her head.
I watched my dad lose what little hair he had in 2008 when he underwent chemotherapy. Ten months later he lost his battle with prostate cancer.
In 2010, just two short years after my father’s death, my mom was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer. She too lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy. And she lost it again in 2012 when she had a recurrence.
Perhaps it is because of my parent’s experiences with baldness that made skipping out on a million dollars for a head full of hair seem absolutely ludicrous.
My best friend Erica thought so too. Her mom underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2005.
Erica and I had participated in BC Cancer Foundation’s Underwear Affair for the past two years. Very quickly we decided that shaving our heads would be a great way to spice up this year’s event.
Initially we believed that people would be more willing to donate. We set our personal goals to $10,000 each. We thought money would come pouring in to see two young girls shave their heads.
But we were wrong.
Never could we have imagined the opposition we would receive. People openly told us that they would not be donating to this year’s Underwear Affair, that in no way would they support what we were doing.
We were shocked. It wasn’t as if we were doing this out of rebellion. Neither of us were having a Britney Spears-style mental breakdown. We wanted to shave our heads to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
We explained this over and over again, yet still received opposition. Our initial fundraising goal soon seemed unreachable.
Whether out of spite or out of stubbornness, Erica and I persevered. It stopped mattering to me if we raised our goal, and my focus switched to raising awareness and acceptance.
One of the most upsetting things for me about the opposition we received is that every year thousands of women, men, and children just in BC lose their hair due to chemotherapy.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are already facing illness, suffering, and death. On top of these traumatizing things, they also must lose their hair—something that at this delicate time can take away the last shred of hope that person may have.
Erica and I shaved our heads so that one day, no one else will have to face this trauma. We made the choice to go bald, because so many others do not have the choice.