By Emily Zhao
Freshman Michelle Nguyen shaved off all 25 inches of her hair on Feb. 18 when pairing up with St. Baldrick’s Foundation to become a shavee.
“I decided to shave off my hair to show my complete support for cancer patients. I was hoping it would give people an incentive to donate to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in order to help fund research for childhood cancer,” states Michelle.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation focuses on conquering childhood cancer, using donations to research cures for dozens of child-specific cancers. While adult cancer usually targets the lungs, breast, colon, prostate or skin, child cancer often starts in the white blood cells or the nervous system, brain, bones, lymphatic system, muscles or kidneys.
Childhood cancer research is severely underfunded in comparison to adult cancer, with only 4% of US federal funding dedicated to researching childhood cancer, according to stbaldricks.org.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation website also lists a number of ways people can help with childhood cancer–from shaving your head to show support to donating money towards childhood cancer research. Michelle combined the two, shaving her head to show support, donating the hair to Locks of Love, and creating a fundraiser off the shaving experience.
“I had a very ambitious goal of $1000 and I did not expect to reach it–and I didn’t. I ended up raising a little over $200. Considering the amount of people I know, it’s a lot,” laughs Michelle.
The fundraiser is ongoing and can be found as a Facebook event titled “Michelle goes Bald.”
She livestreamed the entire process on Facebook, where her friends cut her hair down to an inch long. Her friends on Facebook followed her throughout the process, leaving over 200 comments of support and love. After the livestream, she shaved off the remaining hair, fulfilling her side of the fundraiser.
“I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous, but I think that it was (through) such a long, drawn out process of fundraising that I was ready to shave my head,” recalls Michelle. “I originally wanted my friends to shave my head just for fun and because I wanted to try something new. I did a little research and found that I could fundraise money through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and put my shaved head to use.”
She had toyed with the idea of changing up her hair for a while before the event, and fully committed to shaving her entire head after finding out she could do so for a cause. While her parents were initially concerned about other people’s reactions, Michelle feels the change has made her more confident.
“I definitely spend a lot less time in the morning getting ready,” she chuckles.
In the future, she is considering dedicating more time to campaigning for cancer research.