If you have not heard about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, it is a great organization dedicated to raising money to fight childhood cancers. According to the organization’s website, only 4% of funding provided by the National Cancer Institute is devoted to prevention and treatment of childhood cancers. As you can imagine, childhood cancers, and their treatment, differ in many important respects from cancers affecting adults, and require their own specialized research. St. Baldrick’s was formed to help fill the funding gap, by providing funds directly for use in research focused on cancers affecting children. And fill the gap it does – the only US organization that funds more childhood cancer research grants than the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the US government itself.
You won’t be riding your bike or running a race to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s. Nope, you’ll be shaving your head! Participants – “Shavees” – raise donations for shaving their heads at one of the many St. Baldrick’s events held around the country (each event is kind of like a shave-a-thon with a party atmosphere, and they look like an absolute blast). Shaving heads is a brilliant means of support, since it not only raises funds, but also shows solidarity with the many cancer patients who lose their hair during treatment.
I came to know about St. Baldrick’s through some friends of ours. Their two sons – B and T – shave their heads each year as part of a local team, TeamBrent. The TeamBrent organization was established in 2005 by friends of theirs whose 3 year old son was battling Stage IV neuroblastoma. He is doing well now, and Team Brent has raised an enormous amount of funds for cancer research through various events, including St. Baldrick’s and the Pan Mass Challenge, just to name a few. Talk about creating something amazing out of something horrible. I’m so impressed with the TeamBrent family and will definitely be on the lookout for them at the PMC this year so I can congratulate them personally on the health of their son and their amazing work for cancer research and support.
Our soon-to-be-shaved friend, B, was over for a playdate yesterday. He is in 5th grade and will be rendered bald on Sunday. I asked him about the event and the main thing he talked about was his friend – the one who had cancer, who now is healthy, and who is the reason for his participation. He commented that he has known this friend “forever,” and though he was really sick, he is doing great now. He also talked about how much he enjoyed participating in the St. Baldrick’s event each year. I was amazed by the maturity our young friend showed regarding the situation, but truthfully, was a bit saddened that he has had to face this kind of situation at such a young age. I don’t remember any children getting cancer when I was in elementary school. I don’t even remember any of my friends’ parents getting cancer when I was in elementary school. Sadly, my children do have friends whose parents have cancer; in some cases, very advanced. My kids know that their own father had cancer as a teen, and see the long-lasting effects that the disease and its treatment have had on his health. Some of their friends know other children who have or have had cancer. The kids I know seem to be exposed to cancer and its harsh realities at a much younger age than I was.
It is mind-boggling how pervasive cancer is and how many lives it touches – old and young. And yet, so inspiring that there are so many ways to help. Kids must feel quite empowered to know that they can do something to contribute to the cause. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I was capable of doing anything to help with “adult” problems when I was a kid. I’m in awe at the creative ways that organizations like St. Baldrick’s have found to enable people of all ages to help fight cancer. And seeing how many people rise to the challenge to participate? It certainly helps to restore my faith in humanity.
Good luck on Sunday, B. We are honored to sponsor you!