In my first post, I talked about how I became involved with St. Baldrick's. I asked my fellow committee members - the people that put blood, sweat and tears (a lot of each) into the events - to tell me their stories. Here is the first response I received. It is such a touching story from a very exuberant person, April...who I am honored to know, and my girls find her a lot of fun too!
Here is April's Story:
In November 2000, I lost my cousin Kristy Lyn Haley to melanoma at the age of 21. Kristy was diagnosed when she was 18-the cancer was found from a mole on her back. Two years later it spread to her lung and 2 months later to her brain. Doctors told Kristy she could receive steroid injections for the brain tumors. The steroids weren’t legal in the U.S., so Kristy would have to go to Germany to receive the injections. Doctors also told Kristy there was a chance they wouldn’t work but Kristy being the fighter she was, took the risk and went. While traveling to Germany, the tumors had swelled faster than the doctors thought they would and once she arrived, Kristy was admitted into the hospital. On November 29, 2000 Kristy lost her battle just a few days before she even had the chance to receive her first injection. Kristy has been my biggest inspiration and the St. Baldrick’s family helps make sure she will never be forgotten.
In early 2006 I went in a bagel store on Larkfield Rd and saw the St. Baldrick’s poster for the first time. I actually thought to myself, “How have I never heard of this?” In the past I had donated my hair when I cut it, but when I saw the poster I knew I had to shave. Since I was getting married in the latter part of 2006, I decided to wait until 2007 to shave my head. In 2007 the time came to register and I did it. Some people thought I would chicken out, others told me I was crazy and that I was a woman and "women don’t walk around with a shaved head!" Well that was only more motivation that I needed. I needed to prove those people who thought women shouldn't/couldn't shave all wrong. Some of these people had never encountered a child (of any age) with cancer so they didn’t know what it was like. Anytime I got a comment, I’d always say to look at all of these innocent children who are sick and have no choice and they lose their hair while in treatment...I’m helping them in their fight. I’m doing this for them.
The 2007 event at Napper’s came along and I was a nervous wreck. My whole family came to support me including aunts, uncles, cousins and friends from all over. This was a HUGE deal for my family. Kristy was the reason I was doing this and I know if she were still here and the roles were reversed, she’d be doing this for me.
Finally the time had come for me the get shaved. Here I was, decked out in St. Patty’s day gear: necklaces, beads, suspenders, fake long green eyelashes and my thick curly hair in about 5 different pony tails. I got called up on stage and I was shaking as I was told to sit down in the chair. There was no turning back. The buzzer was turned on and so were the waterworks. In the background, all I heard was everyone chanting "APRIL! APRIL! APRIL!" Everyone was screaming and clapping for me. That was the best feeling in the world. I knew at that moment I had everyone on that floor helping fight childhood cancer alongside of me. I cried as I had my head shaved. It was a mixture of everything- complete strangers handing me donations, the adrenaline rush, my head being shaved, and mostly I cried because I looked at Kristy’s picture on the wall and I was doing this for her. My first head shaving memory is etched in my mind forever. I will never forget the feeling of knowing I just made a difference.
I shaved my head again in 2008 and let my hair grow until August 2011 and I cut off 17” of hair and donated it to Wigs for Kids. I have raised $7,000 since my first year being involved with St. Baldrick’s. I can’t wait for the day for my daughter and son to tell me they want to shave too. I will be their biggest supporter.
Becoming part of the St. Baldrick’s family, I have met some AMAZING people and families who go above and beyond for such a great cause. Christine Apollo reached out to me about Kristy and I haven’t looked back since. I look forward to this time of year every year—it just keeps getting better and better.