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Loosing the Locks

Yes, Jen is braving the razor, as she pledges her efforts to help raise money for Leukaemia in this year’s Shave for a Cure. Jennifer and her son Alex will take on the challenge later this month and say goodbye to their blonde locks.

Tell us a little about yourselves.

J: I am in my mid 40s, and I have been working in the Contact Centre at Country Energy in Port Macquarie for the past eight years. I absolutely love my role. My life is pretty full most of the time, with full time employment, young boys to raise, and last year completing a certificate in Management (part time).

Most of my weekends are spent with my sons enjoying watching them growing up into young men, appreciating the beaches of Port Macquarie, assisting with local organisations and / or just relaxing.

A: I am 15 nearly 16, attending Year 10 at St Paul’s High School in Port Macquarie. I have been elected House Captain and a member of the SRC (Student Representative Council).

I participate as a member of PMBA (Port Macquarie Bodyboarding Association) and have just started assisting a wonderful volunteer organisation, DSA (Disabled Surfing Association).

2011 is going to be a jam packed year with studying for my School Certificate as well as everything else, but I’m sure I will manage.

When did you decide that you wanted to participate in Shave for a Cure? How has Leukaemia been a part of your life?

J: Cancer has always been at the forefront of my life. It has affected me personally during my mid 20s and also with the loss of many family members and friends to this tragic disease. A few years ago a close friend’s daughter was diagnosed with B cell acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Due to complications, she was close to death.

She has been in remission for the past 3 years, but just before Christmas 2010 tragedy struck again and she is currently undergoing treatment for the second time. Luckily she is in reasonably good health at the moment and hoping to recover relatively quickly.

Through this experience I thought, what can I do to help? As you can see, I have quite long healthy hair, and I thought Shave for a Cure is a way that I can make a difference.

A: In primary school one of my class mates was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Fortunately, it was found and treated immediately, although she did lose all her hair due to the treatment. I am also doing it as a comfort for Mum. Even though she is strong enough to shave her hair all by her herself, it is also nice for her to have the moral support.

Most people would be too vain to cut off all their hair, Jen. What emotions are you feeling?

As the date for the shave is drawing near, I have many mixed emotions. I am excited, but nervous. It is a big step that I am taking, but the way I see it – to me it is just hair (materialistic / cosmetic). I have the choice to chop it off. Others who have the disease don’t get that option.

I know it will grow back over time, and you never know – I might like it short. I had a lady ask me if I had thought about just colouring it, but it wouldn’t have the same impact. My hair does not define the person I am – my personality does that enough LOL!

What do you plan to do with your hair after it is all cut off?

I would like to donate my hair, possibly for someone to make my golden locks into a wig. It would be a great feeling to give someone else the enjoyment of it. So if anyone has any suggestions or knows someone who makes wigs, please let me know.

How are you going about your fundraising, and how much to do you want to raise?

I would like to raise between $3,000 – $5,000. I think in today’s economy, with all the natural disasters happening in Australia at the moment, that is a pretty realistic goal – an achievable amount.

On 19 March 2011 at Tacking Point Tavern Emerald Downs, Port Macquarie, I will be holding a Trivia Evening, starting at 6pm in support of Shave for a Cure. The Master of Ceremonies (MC) will be Steve Bailey and Fred. I will be holding auctions, raffles and there are prizes to be won.

It should be a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to it and hope the local community gets behind the idea. There will be lots of fundraising occurring, through having BBQs, bus trips, a variety of competitions to enter, 100 clubs and lots of other activities.

How have you been promoting your big hair cut?

At the moment, I have distributed about 600 flyers throughout businesses in Port Macquarie and have received a tremendous response. Some businesses also have donation tins on their counters for locals to contribute. I will also try to get other media coverage, such as radio, as the event draws closer. On Saturday evenings from 6 – 8pm, Donna is the DJ on Two Way FM’s Generation Gap, and she will also be promoting the Trivia Evening for me on her show.

Is there any particular person or business locally that has really got behind your efforts?

I would like to thank the businesses that have offered donations so far; their contributions have been wonderful. Kylie from Childish Photography, my hair dresser Nicole from Glasshouse Hair and Beauty – their assistance has been invaluable.

I have also received vouchers and donations from Subway, The Cruise Terminal, Junk Cruises, Scampi’s Seafood Restaurant, Glasshouse Florist, Laurieton Seafood on Murray, Town Green Inn (TG’s), Tacking Point Tavern, Hydro Golf, Jus4fun, Touchwood Massage, Hogs Breath Café, Terry White Pharmacy, Soul Surfing, The Book Warehouse, Madison Avenue Professional Haircare, Emerald Plaza Take Away, Target Port Macquarie, Bago Tavern, St Peter’s Primary and St Paul’s High Schools – not to mention all the people at Country Energy whom I work with have been a great support.

If anyone still has a flyer and would like to make a donation or are interested in sponsoring Alex and me, please contact me. I really want the Trivia Night to be a success, and I cannot do it without local business participation.

Personally, how important is supporting this event to you both?

Alex and I just want to do as much as we possibly can to make this event as successful as possible, while raising awareness of this terrible disease and contributing as much money/support possible to finding a cure. I would love to see it in my lifetime. This is how one or two people can make a difference.

Alex, you are only 15. How do you hope shaving your head will bring attention to cancer awareness among your peers?

I hope it will just encourage other teenagers to be more sun aware, sadly, as skin cancer is such a common disease. I urge others to be aware if you don’t wear sun screen or zinc, and don’t cover up, you are putting your body at risk each time you’re exposed to the sun. Even though I have had my fair share of sunburns, I have started to learn my lessons.

What would you say to others contemplating participating?

I would say just go for it. Don’t be vain; don’t worry about what others think. I know that we will get the stares and whispers, but it doesn’t matter – some people just need to be a little more informed. All it takes is time and organising.

How can people donate or participate?

One way is for them to come along to support us at 6pm on 19 March 2011 at Tacking Point Tavern Emerald Downs, Port Macquarie.

Please note that if anyone wants to shave or colour their own locks, Nicole from Glasshouse Hair will be on hand – or they can donate on the web site at http://my.leukaemiafoundation.org.au/Jen

Thank you Jen and Alex!

FOCUS will be donating $100 towards Jen’s fundraising.