The short piece I wrote about cancer on my fundraising page spoke of the dark side of the disease. It spoke of struggling and fighting, yet there is another side to be seen, a side which was shown to me through my Hair Donation Ottawa experience. It is a side of resilience, of hope, of support, and of strength.
When I first registered to participate in the event, I had no idea how much I could raise or how I could raise it; these worries were to be short lived. I setup my fundraising page, the words explaining why I was participating coming easily. I was doing this because I am tired of sitting on the sidelines, tired of watching people face the fight of their lives, while being only able to sit idly by.
I have my own list in my head, which I run through whenever cancer is brought up, as I am sure you do as well. It is a list of people close to me who have fought this beast, some making it, others not, yet each standing strong. It is a list which grows every year and we must do all we can to stop it.
One of the first things to strike me on this journey, was just how many people have been touched by cancer, each quick with a personal tale and support for the cause. My fundraising goals were easily attained, an early sign of the solidarity I would see, each person wanting to help, to contribute in any way they could.
As my wife and I made our way to the event space, we were impressed by the number of freshly cut, smiling faces passing us in the halls. The energy grew the closer we got to the AC Salon and we couldn’t help but smile from ear-to-ear by the time we walked into the crowded room. We were quickly greeted and handed a small card of instructions, each step corresponding to a large, floating, golden number. These balloons were tied to tables that were intermixed with other tables full of information, activities, and smiling volunteers.
The room was electric, full of happy faces milling about sharing their stories and taking photos, even Champ managed to make it out for a haircut and never stopped dancing. Before going into the chair, I had an opportunity to meet and thank Helene Hutchings, the CEO of Hair Donation Ottawa, just as she was about to make announcements and welcome a wonderful a cappella choir. The songs of the choir filled the room as my wife and I were taken into the salon to start the head shave.
We entered the AC Salon to find an organized chaos. People laughed and shared stories over the snick of scissors and buzz of clippers wielded by professional stylist volunteers. It made for an infectious atmosphere, instantly making you feel light on your feet. We were introduced to Eli from Silver Scissors and my wife began the live stream. Eli did a fast and wonderful job on my hair, all the while keeping the live feed fun and entertaining. He informed me that many women and girls were leaving the salon just as bald as I was. I also learned that you do not have to shave your head, you can donate as little as 6 inches, so you can go in for a trim and a style, all while helping a great cause.
After the shave, I was lead away to have my head rinsed by one of the AC Salon volunteers, who informed me that the hair which could not be used to make wigs, would be used to help clean oil spills. Everything which could be used, was being used. The money raised, to fund research, donated hair, to make wigs that relight smiles and help save our oceans. Thinking of how well thought-out everything was and the energy you get from helping others, was what made my smile in the after photo.
I was able to speak with Helene again and take a quick photo, promising my help for next year, before my wife and I picked up my certificate and made our way home to rest. We were each inspired and were discussing ideas on what we could do next year to raise even more funds.
Everyone we met at the event were amazingly gracious and hospitable, making each participant feel like they were the star of the show. We both left feeling connected and grounded, feeling a part of something much bigger than us. This event shows us, that when we are threatened, we can put our differences behind us to unite as one people to fight a common enemy.
I feel very privileged to have been a part of this event and am left in awe at all the hard work our doctors and scientists are doing to make cancer a thing of the past. I hope in time, we will not need cancer fundraisers, or fundraisers for any disease, but until that day, we must stay united and stand strong, to do everything we can.
This will be a yearly event for me, though next year my hair will be long enough to donate. I ask that you please consider joining me next year to see if we can help beat the $108, 000.00 raised this year! Thank you to everyone who participated, donated, and volunteered.
To everyone doing all they can to find a cure, thank you and to all of you battling, stay strong. Once a survivor, forever a warrior.