Going Bald for St. Baldricks – A Promise Made is a Promise Kept
I am about to go bald. 18” inches of long, crazy purple hair that my colleagues always comment on and know me by will be gone. Seem crazy to you? It gets even crazier. It’ll all be happening just two days after I’m married.
Why the heck would I do that? I’m glad you asked. 🙂
You may have read last year on Life at Cisco (if not, go read it now, I’ll wait), that after 7 years of volunteering as a photographer with The St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Children’s Cancer Research – I was knighted. That blog detailed how I got started with St. Baldrick’s, why I decided to create Team Live Out Loud in memory of my sister Kellie, and how it all came full circle here at Cisco when I found out about there were others as passionate about St. Baldricks as I was, especially at our Raleigh, North Carolina campus.
I made a promise 7 years ago that once I got married, St Baldricks could have these purple locks. This year – on March 24, 2018 – I’ll keep that promise. I’ll shave this head of hair of mine to help find better, safer treatments for children battling cancer – to help change the course of pediatric cancer just TWO DAYS after I get married. And the guy at the end of the aisle? He’s shaved his head these past 6 years in support of my passion for the cause.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions as people have found out about my quest to go bald, so I thought I’d tackle some of them here before the big day.
1. “You’re going BALD?! How does your company feel about that?!” This question always kind of makes me laugh, because I feel like those who ask it – don’t realize I work at Cisco. Since Cisco is also cool with purple hair, they’re extra excited about me having no hair. Especially because giving back and volunteering is an everyday thing around here. Plus, Cisco isn’t a place that focuses on how you look – they’re focused on the talents you bring, and what makes you the best employee possible. What helps immensely in accomplishing that is bringing your true self to work.
Purple hair? Cisconians love it. Tattoos? We have a whole “inked” community. Want to go bald for an amazing cause? You’ve got our full support. I’m living proof that this isn’t “marketing” a culture, it IS the culture.
2. Will you wear wigs? It’s not in my plan. Not unless it’s Halloween and I find a fun funky colored one on sale. The reason I’m going bald is to make a statement – not cover it up. I want people to ask why I did it, what it felt like, and who I did it for…that’s the awareness piece. That’s the piece where most people I talk to don’t realize that children are being given adult chemo and radiation – because that’s all there is – or that many suffer secondary cancers or illnesses because of the harsh treatments they receive to save their lives.
Every TWO minutes a child around the world is diagnosed with cancer. Literally. In the time they take to shave my head? That’ll be at least two kids and their families whose lives will have been changed forever.
Want to work for a place that encourages you to be yourself and give back? We’re hiring! Apply now!
3.Why St. Baldricks? Why NOT St. Baldrick’s? 😉 The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is an AMAZING organization. They’re the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, besides the US government, and they’ve funded $232 million throughout 27 countries around the globe for this crucial research. Hand down, they’re the BEST research no matter where it takes places! A quick search on Google or Facebook will likely show you the incredible results the St. Baldrick’s grants and research are having too. We ARE making an impact here!
Also, I love that often our events are held around St. Patrick’s Day which enables our community to come together to fight kid’s cancer together. The events are widely supported by first responders from local police and fire departments to EMTs and beyond. As the kid of a retired police officer, with many family and friends who are first responders, this is HUGE for me.
And I love that St. Baldrick’s is one of the charities that has been vetted by Cisco and will receive a MATCH of any funds donated through Cisco’s Brightfunds system. That’s more kids helped. Thank you Cisco!
4. What do you think will happen after your shave? Well. I’ll be married. I’ll be bald. And I’m wildly excited about that. Yes, there are plans to re-purplize my hair once the peach fuzz comes back in, and YES, we’re totally going to have fun with short haired looks for a while. I’ll probably also be wearing a few more hats when it’s cold out and a lot more sunscreen on the top of my head come this summer.
I’m also excited that I found an organization to donate my purple hair to – Children With Hair Loss will be receiving my locks. They provide human hair replacements to children who have endured medically-related hair loss at no cost to them or their families.
5. Will you miss long hair? Probably not. I’ve never been a truly “long haired person” – I grew it out all for St. Baldricks. And it does get HOT during those Floridian summers under all this hair. I’ll probably miss fun braids the most.
6. Are you nervous? Absolutely not. This has been seven years in the making. I’m excited that I finally get to keep my promise – for these kids and their families, who have become my friends over the years. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this lifetime is that…silence is an answer, and I refuse to be silent because these kids deserve BETTER.
7. But, seriously. What does work think? I get it, I really do – some places wouldn’t be as cool about it (but why would you want to work at one of those places anyway?). So, yeah. People are gonna see me, and my profile images are going to change when I pop onto Webex or Cisco Spark. But, here’s the thing. Cisco supports who I am, and how I’ve decided to give back to the community that is most important to me – and, y’all. Hair. Grows. Back. Some people sadly don’t have a choice in that matter.
I’ve heard from women who have gone bald before me too that it is truly one of the most empowering things they have ever done – and I know Cisco is on board with more empowered women here in tech. 🙂
I’m ready to keep the promise. Are you ready to watch me #RockTheBald?
Want to help? Here’s how! ➡ Donate! If you’re a Cisconian, we have a Brightfund and the donations/matches made before the end of February 8th SHOULD still hit my total fundraising goal BEFORE I shave. 🙂 Or simply SHARE this story or my overall fundraising page link (here) to tell your friends/family why you’d like their help in supporting.
Want to follow along? Saturday, March 24, 2018 is the day! Want to stay informed and see my bald head first? Follow #WeAreCisco – I’m sure you’ll see some of the fun unfold there. 🙂