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June 23, 2013

Moms go bald to help battle childhood cancer

DUNCAN — Each day on average, 46 families get told that their child has cancer and in 2006, Shawna Weis received that news.

Weis’ daughter Jocilyn was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain cancer, at the age of five. After five brain surgeries, several weeks of radiation and 14 months of chemotherapy, Jocilyn has been in remission for six years.

When Weis found an opportunity to share the awareness of childhood cancers and raise money to find a cure, she jumped at it. An organization through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation called 46 Mommas: Shave for the Brave brings mothers of children who have fought childhood cancers together to shave their heads for the cause.

Weis will be joining more than 70 other mothers June 30 at the Arneson River Theatre in San Antonio, Texas, to shave her head. Her husband, children, parents and grandmother will be there to support her.

“I’m on a Facebook support group for parents of children who have had cancer and friends asked if I wanted to shave my head,” said Weis. “Without thinking, I just said ‘yes.’”

This spur of the moment decision was made in February, so Weis has had some time to think since then, but hasn’t changed her mind. St. Baldrick’s is a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to funding childhood cancer research.

“Raising the awareness means more to me than keeping my hair,” Weis said. “My goal was $1,000 and I reached that on Mother’s Day weekend.”

Each momma has her own webpage through the organization where people can go to donate to the cause. Weis said it stays active until the end of this year and that the shaving event is annual. She has done a few fundraisers but since reaching her goal, she stopped.

“I work for the school district and they’re aware of what I’m doing and support it,” she said. “I’ll probably keep it shaved for the summer because it’s hot but I’m not sure if I’ll shave it each year.”

Whether or not she decides to shave again, once a 46 Momma, she can continue to raise money each year. Jocilyn thinks that her mom getting her hair shaved off is funny, Weis said.

“She was bald for two years and thought that she was going to have to shave her head too,” she said. “I explained to her that ‘I’m shaving mine so you don’t have to shave yours ever again.’”

Since then, Weis’ husband and son have both committed to shaving their heads as well. The bald heads are meant to get people to ask questions. The organization gives each mother a button to wear that tells people to ask them about their shaved head.

“Some people might stare but the buttons are meant to get them to ask questions,” Weis said. “Some of the moms even have tattoos on their heads that tell people to ask them why they’re bald.”

In the weeks leading up to her shaving ceremony, Weis has taken the opportunity to go a little wild with her hair. Each week, it has been a different color. As for the actual shaving, Weis expects to be emotional.

“I will probably do a lot of crying and have already started some of the crying but not over losing my hair,” she said. “I saw one of the shavings in Oklahoma City and all of the moms sat in a row holding hands and I bet we won’t even notice that our hair is gone until it’s all over.”

Along with the ceremony, the moms will make a cruise down the San Antonio River Walk in order to celebrate and raise more awareness, as well as visit hospitals trying to provide hope to families and children going through the same thing they have.

Additionally, Weis said she plans to take her family to Morgan’s Wonderland, an amusement park for children with special needs.

“I’m real excited about that,” said Weis. “I think Jocilyn will enjoy not being limited.”

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