World-class cancer centres like The Princess Margaret are leading the way in cancer research and treatment, translating new understanding gained in the laboratory into more effective treatments for patients at our Cancer Centre, across the country and around the world.
Through ongoing research, education and innovation, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre continues to be on the frontiers of medical, surgical and radiation oncology, embracing the latest technology and international best-practices and setting standards for patient care. (source: http://www.nohairselfie.com/about-us)
Many of us have been affected by cancer in our lifetime. Perhaps you have been diagnosed and had to fight cancer or maybe someone close to you has had to undergo treatment for cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease and it most of us have experienced how terrible it is – be it personally or going through it with a loved one. This is why fundraising efforts for cancer research are necessary.
I recently participated in a massive campaign in support of not only the people in my life that I love and who have either passed away, are in remission or are newly diagnosed, but also for everyone whose lives have been affected by cancer. This campaign is the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre #NoHairSelfie to raise funds for cancer research. The funds raised that go to cancer research have been incredible. Harley Mintz raised $725,650.00 for cancer research by shaving off his trademark locks.
While many people commend the efforts of fundraising campaigns, there is another side I’d like to offer my attention to. Those who feel hurt, enraged, and insulted, by certain types of fundraising campaigns, your voices are important and need to be heard. I have recently learned that some people have been upset by the campaign and I want to let know that their feelings are very valid and very important.
Prior to the fundraiser, I had spoken to several friends who are cancer survivors and a few who are currently undergoing treatment. All expressed thanks and embraced the campaign. For years, we have made donations anonymously, but this fundraising campaign along with the presence of social media made it possible to raise even greater funds.
A conversation with a friend that touched me really made me believe that this was for a good cause.
I wish when I had chemo and my hair fell out, someone would have done what you did. It would have made walking out in public a little easier having a loved one go out with no hair — just like me.”
As it states on the #NoHairSelfie website, “Participating in the #NoHairSelfie Campaign gives us the chance to show our solidarity with Canadians undergoing cancer treatment and provides much-needed funds for cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world.”
When people say they are outraged that someone shaved their head to raise money for cancer research as part of the #NoHairSelfie, I do not take that lightly. Every person’s feelings are valid and should be respected. Though I have not had to go through chemotherapy, I do have people in my life who have. It’s not that I’m oblivious to the suffering, or that I dismiss cancer as something to be taken lightly. I don’t.
To discover that the #NoHairSelfie campaign stirs up emotions in some is something I would like to acknowledge. This campaign has been very visible on social media with the many tweets, Facebook shares, YouTube videos, blog posts, and word of mouth. In being so high profile a campaign, it reached a large audience, received a lot of attention and raised a lot of funds for cancer research.
At the same time, I can see how those who feel this campaign to be insensitive can feel upset seeing the campaign posted all over social media.
The emotional toll of cancer
What people may not know is that some people close to me have died from cancer. I’ve been at bedsides while a sick loved one vomited after her treatment. I’ve given ice chips to a late friend who was so weak and emaciated from the disease. I know how horrible cancer is because some of the people I care about most in the world, have been affected. This is precisely why I was happy to help the cause and raise funds so that sometime in our lifetime there may be a cure found for cancer.
For cancer survivors, cancer patients, and their caregivers, the emotional toll is heavy. Cancer first and foremost affects the people going through it, but it also affects those who care for them. If there is any way I can help, I will.
Having lost my aunt to cancer and never being able to meet my father-in-law (because he passed away from cancer two years before Hubby and I were engaged), this is a cause near and dear to my heart. People I care about, all of whom have survived cancer or who have lost the battle are all reasons why I chose to in some way make a small difference.
The flip side
In reading and hearing some cancer patients’ thoughts on campaigns like this, we can get a different perspective.
“Shaving your head isn’t going to help ME! You’re healthy and have nothing to lose.”
“Shaving your head isn’t showing me solidarity or support. It’s actually an insult.”
“Doing things like shaving your head for cancer is self-serving.”
People and organizations have been doing campaigns where people shave their heads for the cause for years. I always thought it commendable when I saw students or people who have loved ones with cancer shave their heads to support. Those are all words reflect a side I hadn’t even considered because the reception received had always been great. Given the perspective of cancer patients who feel opposite, I can totally understand. I thank the cancer survivors who have expressed their feelings and showing us the “other side”. It gives new understanding seeing things through a different lens.
It’s true. I’ve never had cancer. I did have an aunt who had ovarian cancer. My family and I were there when she lost her hair and her eyebrows. We saw the horrible pain she was in and held her hands as she took her last breath. I remember my family all being with her during her last moments in the hospital.
The only thing gained was $1,105.00 towards cancer research. I could have easily made out an anonymous donation (like we always do) and saved my hair, but I chose to do this in honour of my late aunt and my late father-in-law, and do this for a girlfriend who has recently lost both her breasts to breast cancer. I did this for everyone whose life is affected by cancer.
I had the blessings and thanks from my friends who are going through cancer. They were touched that I would raise money for them this way. A $100 donation would have been fine, but $1,105 can go a lot further.
Sure, there are other ways to raise funds, but the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation chose this way to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. If funds are raised with good intentions and a loving heart, it makes all the difference.
I’ve recently been told that the efforts and campaign are insensitive to cancer survivors and patients. If there’s one thing I wish to never be is insensitive and insulting to anyone.
On World Cancer Day, the internet was filled with social media shares and support for cancer research. School staff, teachers, students, celebrities, police officers, politicians, doctors, and so many other people all shaved their heads to raise funds for cancer research. I think that is truly wonderful that we are promoting a way and a means to end this horrible disease by doing unique fundraising campaigns that encourage people to contribute.
I’m just one person who cares about the people in my life and who wants to help fund cancer research in any capacity I can. I am thankful for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and for the #NoHairSelfie because they have raised funds to help those who suffer from cancer get the treatment they need.
Feel free to comment, but as always, please be respectful of others.