Getting a close shave for cancer

Gaylene and Nigel Meeson are planning to shed their locks in hopes of shedding light on a prevalent childhood disease – pediatric cancer.

With their 6-year-old daughter Hannah bravely battling brain cancer, the couple and their friends are shaving their heads in a show of solidarity, as well as to raise funds and awareness of a disease that claims the lives of more children worldwide each year than any other illness.

Heroes for Hannah is being held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday at The Wicket at Cricket Square, and will include food and drink specials. Money raised will go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private childhood cancer research charity in the United States.

As of Wednesday, about a dozen people had signed up to show their support by shaving their heads. “A number of MLAs have accepted our invitation and will be attending as well,” Mrs. Meeson said.

Among those signing up to shave his head is Woody Foster, whose daughter Charli, now 6, is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 at the age of 13 months. He and his wife Sabrina previously shaved their heads for a charity event, which raised more than $55,000 for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

“The event itself was a life moment for me because of the emotion that was attached to it,” he said, noting the outpouring of support continued well after the event. “I cannot tell you how many strangers walked up to me or my wife and simply introduced themselves and relayed a story of their own or stopped to say how much the event uplifted them.”

Hannah’s uncle in Australia and a family friend in the U.K. will also be shaving their heads Friday.

Hannah Meeson and her poodle, Peanut. - Photo: Hannah Reid
Hannah Meeson and her poodle, Peanut. – Photo: Hannah Reid

A gold ribbon is the symbol of pediatric cancers diagnosed in children and adolescents, and several schools and preschools in Cayman are showing their support for the cause – and for Hannah – by dressing in yellow or gold.

Hurley’s has also joined in the fight against childhood cancer by designating a sushi roll of the day as “Hannah’s Roll” and donating $1 from each sold to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S. which aims to spotlight the types of cancer that largely affect children and raise funds for research and family support. In the U.S., almost 13,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year. Approximately one-quarter of them will not survive.

To mark the month, the Meeson family has made a video of Hannah to raise awareness of childhood cancer, the hardships children go through during treatment and the need for more funding and research. The video is available on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Hannah continues her battle. “She continues to amaze us every day with her strength and courage, even though the odds are stacked against her,” Mrs. Meeson said. “She is our true hero.”

The Meesons are encouraging donations to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which can be made online at: stbaldricks.org/participants/heroesforhannah. Anyone interested in taking part in Heroes for Hannah can email Mrs. Meeson at [email protected].

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