This week, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) staff will come together to take part in the Leukemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave – banishing their locks to help beat blood cancer.
SCHHS Paediatric Consultant and ‘The Bald and the Beautiful’ Team Captain Dr Penny Cruickshanks said she and her colleagues were on a mission to raise awareness and funds for the fight against leukaemia, which is the most common cancer in children.
“Shaving our hair is only a symbol, compared to the suffering of losing it through a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy."
“I watch families and children go through that ordeal with so much dignity and strength, plenty of tears but also good humour,” Dr Cruickshanks said.
Every day, more than 50 Australians are told that they have blood cancer and 15 people will lose their life to the disease.
“This makes blood cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in Australia. It can develop in anyone, at any time, at any age."
“I see brave, frightened parents who are so worried and stressed but do everything they can to make it all OK for their child."
“There is a significant emotional and financial toll that comes with a cancer diagnosis and that's before parents have even watched their child go through many painful procedures and rounds of chemotherapy, with endless trips to the hospital."
“Every child we see is special and brings so much joy to our clinic. Mostly they take it in their stride and it becomes their ‘normal’ for a while, although that definitely doesn’t diminish how much they have to go through. They are incredibly brave and resilient, it really amazes me,” Dr Cruickshanks said.
Dr Cruickshanks and her The Bald and the Beautiful team members, SCHHS Paediatric Consultant Dr Mark Garden and SCHHS Paediatric Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant Jordana McLean are joining 20,000 Australians taking part in the World’s Greatest Shave this year.
“Our fundraising target is $7,500 but we dream of getting to $10,000,” she said."
Funds raised through the World’s Greatest Shave is critical to help the Leukaemia Foundation continue to support local families affected by blood cancer through advocating for equal access to new therapies and treatments as well as providing educational, emotional and practical support, such as transport and accommodation, at no cost.
“By sponsoring us, you’ll also fund vital research to help more people survive blood cancers, while improving their quality of life,” Dr Cruickshanks said.