“Do you know a kid with cancer?” This is the most common question I’ve been fielding lately. Of course, it’s a logical one, because it’s not every day that women with 12-plus inches of golden locks decide they will go and shave them all off in the name of childhood cancer. Which is exactly what I did.
It’s been a blur since the time I decided to join my brother, Nick, and first grade classmate, Eric, in shaving their heads to raise money for St. Baldrick’s—a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing research grants for childhood cancer cures. At first, I was freaked out—worried it was a bad commitment—that I would look like a boy (which, for me, is undesirable). If someone had asked me four weeks ago if I was planning on going bald anytime soon, I would have looked at them as if they were nuts. I can’t say I’m not scared, but with support coming from many corners of the world, I am ready to move forward and go for this! And, after all, hair grows back!
What puzzles me, however, is the reaction I sometimes receive when I answer the question, “No.” No, I do not personally know a child with cancer.
I know many healthy children. I have known many adults with cancer. But, I do not know a child who has cancer.
“Then, why exactly are you doing this?” (The second most common question I’ve been fielding lately.)
Well, aside from purely thinking it’s a good cause, The Golden Rule. The idea is of a reciprocal relationship that benefits everyone positively, whether you know them or not—by someone’s mere existence, they deserve to be treated as we would treat our own families and people we love. Almost every world religion preaches some form of this “do unto others,” “love thy neighbor,” relationship. Good people everywhere, religious or not, live by and teach their children the principle to “not treat others in ways you wouldn’t like to be treated.”
For the most part, the support for my head-shaving has been widespread and, at times, breathtaking. A few friends, who only have my best interests at heart, are a little concerned about how I will look (and how I will fare) bald. But, in the end, they hear me out, and concern quickly turns to support.
I have also been criticized for “taking it too far.” In their defense, my critics love me, and they would also like childhood cancer to not exist. They are mostly concerned about my job search, dating life, etc. Many of them also believe in and, for the most part, live their lives by some form of The Golden Rule. Their genuine concern, however, has led me to consider whether The Golden Rule ever becomes too much? Are they correct? Have I taken it too far?
In an effort to help me understand where other people are coming from, my mother pointed out to me that I am operating in an ideal world, so, I actually may be the one who is out of place, not my newly found critics. She is completely right. But, isn’t that the point? I may be operating with a mindset that a potential employer should want to hire me based on my desire to do things for good and my ability to be so impassioned; a mindset in which people look past my bald head or the bald heads of others and see people for who they are. An ideal world is also one in which childhood cancer is eradicated. And to create an ideal world, it takes “living” in one… even if it seems a little nuts sometimes.
So, NO. No, I don’t know a child with cancer… which is why I have decided to look at my neighbor’s child with the same eyes I have for the kids in my life. Getting rid of my hair seems like just a small step into an ideal world where children don’t have to suffer.
I won’t ask any other ladies to shave their heads. But, I will ask you to walk away from your concerns and walk into my ideal world for a minute and stand behind me as I “do unto others.”
A large group of volunteers will be shaving our heads on April 29th at the Claddagh Irish Pub in Livonia, MI. For more information on the event, click here. If you would like to make a donation to my campaign online, you can find it by clicking here.