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COMMENT: A new do can benefit others, but brings reminders of those we lost
Veterinarian Carole Scholz decided to shave her head and donate her hair to support cancer research. In what seems like an unlikely time to take action, Carole found that this month is the time for her to lend a hand. The Sentinel asked Carole to describe why she is shaving her hair and how this will be impacting her. Read on to learn her motivation and how emotional it all can be for a person to take this step!
This has been an amazing year - full of huge changes for me personally and professionally and so it seemed like the perfect time to follow through on something I've thought about and muttered about for several years. The big haircut!!!
I've seen others do this and it seems so brave and beautiful at the same time. There was a fellow at Relay for life a few years ago that shaved his head and full beard while his wife looked on and cried. I think his son also shaved his hair off. That was just amazing to see. There are schools that do "shave- a- thons" to support fellow students.
Following those stories lead me to read about how much hair is needed for wigs - how long does it need to be, what kind, etc. Mine seems to fit the bill - not dyed, not processed in anyway, generally healthy and baby fine. So knowing that it, seemed that I could make my change and benefit others too. That would be neat.
Linking a big haircut and a fundraiser for cancer care seems to be a really good fit. We all know a person who has/or has had cancer - a few in my life are my dad, who is fair like me and has had several small skin cancers removed, my step-dad who died of bone marrow cancer and I have a good friend who is living her life as full as she can with her cancer right now. Then there are the pets I diagnose and treat and mourn - they move me profoundly to want to do something more so that others don't have to go through what they and their owners have gone through.
For the charities I wanted to pick both human and an animal charity as I have found that folks have some very strong opinions about each kind. The more options then hopefully the more money we can raise. I know that the Canadian Cancer Society is in general a well-respected charity and they have a great format for supporting an event like this through their independent fundraising events program. Easy as I pie, I signed up and made two web pages that allowed them to receive donations and for me to track donations.
I thought that picking the animal charity would be harder, but it came together quite readily too - Smiling Blue Skies was started by a family that lost a Golden Retreiver to cancer and it supports animal cancer care and research and a very cool thing known as comparative oncology. That is the study of the similarities and differences in the way cancers affect different species from humans to dogs to horses, etc. As more of the similarities are discovered, the more information can be shared between the species the less we will need to "re-invent the wheel" for detection, treatments and cures in each species. For me an added bonus is that this Canadian based charity supports work done at my school - Ontario Veterinary College - class of '95.
The other piece that this does is to raise the awareness of the whole issue of cancer in pets. There is a great check list on Smiling Blue Skies - anyone with a pet should be going through this regularly - detecting things early can make a huge difference to both quality and quantity of life for our pets.
The Personal Part about hair... the hard part.
I thought I was ready for this.
My hair is superfine and so my usual is to twist it up into a bun to keep it out of the way during work because there are things that I touch at work that my hair definitely should not! I started the up-dos shortly after starting in practice when I realized that my fine hair was no match for a surgical cap and would fall flat and plaster its self to me if it didn't have the support of clips, bobby pins and styling products. As I got better with the up-dos it became almost too easy - quick blow dry - clip into place and forget it - so much easier than messing with it all the time - and it still looks pretty if/when I take it down.
Looking at photos that I've come across since my moves this spring - my hair has been this way since I was about 19. I'll be 44 this year.
I did cut my hair to the nape of my neck in 1997, but grew it back out and haven't really had a different look since then - just long or very long.
Since the spring I was pretty committed to this project so this is the longest it’s been - usually by now I would have cut the bottom six inches or so off.
I think I have defined myself by my hair - long hair often has so many feminine and sensual aspects to it that with a very clinical and sometimes just gross job and a very strong personality, it was nice to know that tucked up in that bun was something that others could recognize as girlie about me. It’s sort of like - see me do all this very not girlie stuff - don't get confused I'm still girlie - see I have the hair to prove it.
Over the years I've gotten more comfortable with my self and I suppose I don't feel the need to proclaim myself to others - quietly, within my self I know me better and the hair has almost be come a hindrance to the real me. I think I have already changed - the hair just has to catch up with me. That said I will still have tissues ready for hair cut time.
My friends were almost going to do an at home/intervention version of this fundraiser as they are all more than tired of my hairstyle (or lack there of). That said - they all have different ideas of what I should do with my hair and are somewhat horrified with the idea of me going bald. So far one of the group has kicked in $50 to earn herself the right to cut off a pony.
My son I think is a bit nervous about this - he's not had any interest in being around for the event and even seemed a bit horrified when I offered that perhaps he should cut off one of the ponytails. I'm a bit sad that he doesn't want to be here for it, but I totally understand - my hair the way it is now is all he's known. And he's been through all the big changes with me this year too.
Will I embrace the baldness - I think that I am so fortunate to be doing this by choice. I suspect that the bald is something I could live with, but I don't have to so I will likely grow at least some hair back. The only covering up I can see doing is a hat or scarf - I can't see doing a wig at this point.
This was sort of planned for last fall....then for this spring.....and now it is happening.
Seeming to slide in unannounced is something illogical - this is almost on the anniversary of my step-dad's passing. I had the amazing opportunity to go home to help my mum with the final days of my step dad's fight with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow that slowly reduces the number of oxygen carrying red blood cells while eating painful holes in bones all over the body.
My medical background helped me work with his palliative care team so the family was able to help him stay in his own home to the very end. It was the dramatic circle of life - I was able to let him know that I was expecting a new life while his was slipping away. I watched him let all the family know that he "had to go". Once he had permission "to go" from all the kids and my mum, I watched him turn his face skyward and say "let me in". The next morning I watched him take his last breaths while my mum held him. I suppose that is what makes this the right time to do this fundraiser.
I did not/do not wish him another day with his disease, but I do miss him. If this fundraiser makes the difference in one battle with cancer then it is totally worth it.
People can check us out on our Facebook page.
People can donate on line to SBS or CCS. If they donate to SBS please let us know so we can track it as our event is so small it's not being tracked separately.People can donate at the clinic. As of right now there are only 5 ponytails left (I think - might be 4).
My hair will be separated into 9 ponytails and those giving over $50 can cut one off.
We have raised about $800 so far - I will go as short as 1 inch of hair off for every $100 raised - or maybe shorter, but I won't go bald if we don't hit $2600.
The Gem is going to do a Matinee of Bolt on Friday, Sept 28 - all funds from tickets sold before the 22 will count toward the hair cut length.
Any after - still goes to charity, but I won't be going shorter with the hair. There will be a special pre-movie screening - we are asking kids to email in their favourite photos of them and their pets or just the pets - these will be on the big screen before the movie - and likely also some photos of the haircut as this will be the week later. Tickets will be available at the Gem box office, the clinic and 4 Little Monkeys.