It could be argued that hair is one of the most common forms of visual self-expression in the United States. The 1970s and 1980s was defined by hairs, as the mullet was sported by iconic figures like David Bowie and Patrick Swayze. In more current trends, the fade and the “man bun” have helped to define the last five years.
But whether it is being trimmed, gelled or dyed, keeping up with these trends can be a chore to most. But to cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemotherapy, the tediousness of hair styling could be a welcoming one.
In a show of support for those who have struggled with the disease, members of both the Rowan and Glassboro communities stood in solidarity with cancer patients, shaving their heads for the sixth annual Saint Baldrick’s Day Fundraiser in the Student Center pit on April 2. Together, the community raised $37,600 for cancer research.
The event was hosted by Student University Programmers (SUP) and sponsored by local businesses Bogey’s Club & Café, SportClips and Hair 2 There, with the latter two salons lending some of their barbers to give participants a trim off the top.
Senior law and justice major Alexandra Cutts was one of eight women at the event to “brave the shave,” shaving her head bald and raising over $700. Cutts shaved to honor her late grandmother who passed away from lung cancer six months ago.
“No little girl should ever feel ugly because they don’t have hair,” Cutts said. “One of the last things [my grandmother] told me was that she felt ugly not having hair and she didn’t feel good about herself. And if that is my grandma who was 76 years old, then I can’t imagine how a little girl feels when they’re growing up.”
Mariah Francisco, the director of charitable events for SUP, said that her personal goal for the fundraiser was $2,000, and she is proud to have so many people supporting the cause. She even shaved her head in the final round of “shavees.”
Other participants organized in groups, like on led by Jeff Pierantozzi, a Glassboro community member who took part in the event, which was open to the public for the first time this year. He and all his friends dyed their hair orange, which is the color of leukemia awareness, before shaving their heads on stage. Pierantozzi and his friends shaved to support his 5-year-old son Justin, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia this past January.
Once on stage, Pierantozzi mentioned that 40 years ago, his son would have had a 90 percent chance of death due to leukemia. Now, because of cancer research, people like his son have a fighting chance.
In addition to every shavee on stage, there were many people in the audience supporting the event. One audience member, sophomore biology major Nneka Obufor came out to support her friends who were getting their heads shaved by cheering for them offstage.
“I shaved my head before, but not in front of a crowd,” Obufor said. “I give props to people who [go on stage] because not everyone can.”
Obufor went on to talk about how she believes in cancer research, especially because her grandfather from Nigeria died from cancer.
“Prostate cancer runs in my family on the male’s side, so my brother has to get screened early to prevent it,” Obufor said. “[My family] is from Nigeria, so over there the healthcare system wasn’t that good, but if he [her grandfather] was [in America] he might have lived.”
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