Sunday, 19 February 2012

Real Life Stories: Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave

Meet Anne-Louise. A mother to two beautiful children, wife to a fantastic husband, caretaker of many wonderful friendships and teacher to a lot of interesting young people.

Next time you see her she will be bald. This is her story.

I first met Sandi Darling in 1995. We went to school together, rode our bikes together, doorknocked for charity together, danced to cassettes we taped off the radio together, slept over each others houses. Shared secrets. One secret I shared but never acted on was the fact that I wanted to shave my head.

Sandi Darling and Anne-Louise kickin' it old school in 1999

Years pass, fashions change and my hair grows long. Another thing that has changed is how much time I have to look after my tresses. With returning to work part-time and having a 3 year old and a 10 month old to look after I am seriously time poor, and long hair takes commitment when you don't want it to look completely feral :-)

So what to do? Go to salon and get a fancy hair cut? Have a selfish day of beauty therapy, spending money like I’m rich and luxuriating as someone washes my hair, brings me tea and massages my head? Or perhaps I could just hack it all off… use something that I was going to do anyway and twist it a little to help someone in need… 

I remembered a time not so long ago (and yet so long ago it’s a lifetime away) that I once shared a secret with a friend… Now there is no secret- I have signed up to the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave. I’m telling the world and with a community that large to support me there is no backing out!

Sure I’m a little nervous. My greatest fear in all of this is not having a cold head in winter (highly likely); it is not dealing with the kids' looks at the school where I teach (you can imagine what teenagers are thinking!); and it’s not the looks of people in the grocery store as they pretend not to stare at me, the words ‘cancer survivor’ floating like it’s drawn in a speech bubble above their head. My greatest fear is scaring the living daylights out of my beautiful baby girl, Victoria, when she sees me with extremely short hair for the first time! My husband, Shane, on the other hand takes his usual standpoint when it comes to my hair - do whatever you want :-)

I have some fantastic friends and family who are really getting behind this and have brought my total to date to about $600 - roughly 30% of my $2000 goal. I can't wait to see how much the kids at school are willing to pay to have the opportunity to chop off my ponytail! The glory goes to the highest school donor!

Now it is only a few weeks until March 15th - and at 11.20am on March 15 my hair will be the shortest it has been since I was about my daughter's age 30 year ago!

There, but for the grace of god (whomever that may be), go I.

For all the details on how to sign yourself up or to donate to my Shave visit

The money helps the Leukaemia Foundation to support people with blood cancer and to fund important research. If you do donate, you are awesome. Your money goes directly towards helping make the lives of those braving a battle with Leukaemia, and their equally long-suffering friends and family, just a little bit brighter. If you shave or put wild colour in your hair - embrace and enjoy your cause. 

As a friend told me, when your children are grown they will be proud of you. Isn't that what we would all like?  :-)

The Leukaemia Foundation is an amazing charity. Established in Queensland in 1975,it is the only national organisation dedicated to the care and cure of patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.

More than 11,500 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with blood cancer or related blood disorders this year.
The Leukaemia Foundation is ready with support:
  • Providing over 1,000 regional families required to relocate for treatment, a place to call home.
  • Transporting over 5,000 people to and from treatment, keeping them safe when they’re at their most vulnerable emotionally and physically.
  • Educating around 7,000 patients and carers about how to live with blood cancer or a related blood disorder.
  • Providing personalised emotional support and information to over 13,000 people in more than 90,000 face to face conversations and phone calls.
The Leukaemia Foundation investing in research:
  • Childhood Leukaemia – The Leukaemia Foundation funded scientists at the Rotary Bone Marrow Research Laboratories who with support from The Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne, this year discovered cells that cause T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Effectively targeting these cells could improve quality of life for children by reducing the length and side-effects of chemotherapy, and help to prevent relapse.
  • Advanced Hodgkin Lymphoma – The Leukaemia Foundation is partnering with Cancer Australia to fund a national clinical trial to test a new scanning technique for people with newly diagnosed, advanced stage Hodgkin lymphoma. It is hoped that it could identify people who can safely avoid very intensive initial treatment, meaning fewer side-effects and better quality of life.
  • Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma – Stem cell transplants are a potential cure for leukaemia and lymphoma and help people with myeloma to achieve remission. But after transplant, a lack of immune cells puts them at high risk of serious illness or death from viruses like the common cold. Researchers at the Westmead Millenium Institute are exploring use of donor immune cells to fight viral infections in transplant recipients. Results look promising.
So amped to see this babe bald'n'beautiful,
Sandi D

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