A Cut Above: Losing hair to save lives

A Cut Above: Losing hair to save lives
  • Written by
  • Dee Ellwood

March is New Zealand’s leukaemia and blood cancer awareness month.

Every day six children and adults are diagnosed with a type of blood cancer, and each year thousands of Kiwis offer their support through the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer Foundations largest fundraising initiative, Shave for a Cure.

Support for this inaugural event is vast and far reaching – and without age limit. Countrywide Kiwi kids are opting to host their own ‘Crazy Hair Day’ or ‘Bad Hair Day’ event, gathering teacher and student teams for a group shave, or individually shaving and fundraising through GiveALittle. One example is 13-year-old Alysea Henry-ford who hopes to raise $1,000 by the 10th of March.

Dee spoke to Pahoia School student Riley Warren. At just nine-years old, Riley was the youngest – and the only girl – at her school to shave for a cure in 2018. Alongside her two teachers, Mrs Mac and Mr Harwood, and two other boys, she chopped her lop in front of the entire school and raised over $700.00. She shared with us her reasons, her inspiration and her hopes for more and more Kiwi kids to jump onboard and support this cause.

“I wanted to help because I felt really bad for all the Kiwis out there with blood cancer – especially all the children,” she says. “One of the areas funding goes into is a Kids Club for children with blood cancer. It enables kids to meet other kids, participate in activities and talk about what they’re going through. In class we’d discussed how the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer Foundation relies on just donations to fund research and support patients, so I thought the more we can do, the more they can do.”

Losing her hair was the easiest part says Riley, and her time spent speaking to family, sending emails, door knocking was well worth it. “What I had to go through was nothing compared to what kids my age with cancer have to go through. It was really rewarding seeing my fundraising steadily creeping up and up, and my parents really encouraged me.”

In fact, it was Riley’s dad who inspired her to join the event too. “My dad had lung cancer when I was younger, and although he’s better now – he’s got one-and-a-quarter lungs left – it made me want to do it even more.”

Would she do it again? “I’d absolutely think about doing it again at some point – maybe not this year as my hair isn’t long enough yet to donate for a wig – but some other time for sure.”

Want to show your support or get involved?

Sign up for 2020’s Shave for a Cure Event at www.shaveforacure.co.nz or visit www.leukaemia.org.nz.

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