2 March 2013
“So, Flat Kathy, are you going to shave, spray or bail out?” Reggie asked me on the morning of Saturday, the 2nd of March 2013. We were in the car, on the way to the Canal Walk shopping centre, where we were going to meet our friends – Dr L, Dr V and Little N. (You may remember that I stayed with them for a couple of days, during which Little N showed me the medical miracles that happen in her clinic.)
“Ummm…” I hesitated, “I haven’t decided yet.”
“That’s okay,” said Reggie. “You don’t need to be anxious. No one will force you to participate. It’s completely voluntary.”
A week ago, Reggie told me that she was intending to participate in the 10th annual CANSA Shavathon in support of the Cancer Association of South Africa. She explained to me that this is a fundraising event, where people can have their heads shaved, or sprayed in colourful vegetable dyes. It was held at shopping centres across the countries on Saturday the 2nd of March 2013, but businesses also organise their own events, where employees can shave or spray, or pay a bail-out fee if they don’t want to do something so drastic.
“So you’ve done it before?” I inquired.
“Yes, Richard and I had our heads shaved during the 2009 Shavathon,” she replied. “Our friends Dr L and Dr V went with us to Canal Walk that time. We went again for the 2011 Shavathon, with my friend Colette and her mom in Noordhoek. I wanted to go last year, but we were travelling in America at the time, so I missed the event.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Oh no!” she giggled, “it doesn’t hurt at all, Flat Kathy. They use electric shavers, not razor blades! And they don’t do a clean shave, because it’s too risky – they don’t want to nick anyone with a blade. They use attachments of different lengths on the electric shaver. The shortest is number 1, and the longest is number 4.”
When we arrived at the shopping centre, Reggie and I had to walk all over the place, until we finally found the correct venue. Shortly afterwards, our friends arrived, and we all greeted each other. I adore Little N! While Reggie and Dr L paid their R50 to register, Dr V kept a watchful eye on the shopping trolley in which Little N and I were sitting.
“Flat Kathy, please will you watch over Little N?” asked Dr V. “I must go to the other side to take some photos of Dr L and Reggie, while their hair is being shaved off.”
“Yes, yes,” I nodded eagerly, “Of course I will watch her for you.” One of the friendly girls, who were busy spraying colourful dyes on people’s hair, came over to help, just in case.
When Reggie and Dr L returned, I hardly recognised them! Dr L had had very long hair, which they had cut off as a ponytail, to refashion as a wig for people who lose their hair during cancer treatment. I was afraid that Little N would cry, because her mommy now looked so different, but she was such a brave little girl! She smiled and giggled, and didn’t seem to mind at all!
We went to a small and cosy coffee shop inside a large bookstore to have some coffee and tea, with a muffin and a cupcake to share. Suddenly, Dr V said enthusiastically, “You know what? I’m going to do it too.”
“Do what, dear?” asked Dr L.
“Shave my head!” he declared. “Let’s finish up and go back.”
So we did, and within a couple of minutes, they had shaved Dr V’s head too. He looked sooo handsome!
“Reggie? Will you cut my hair too?” I asked, shyly.
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Yes. Please go ahead.”
Dr L borrowed a pair of scissors – and snip-snip! – Reggie carefully cut off my hair! When I looked at my reflection in the glass front of a shop, I admit I got a bit of a fright. I felt so naked without my hair!
“It’s okay, Flat Kathy,” Reggie reassured me with a big hug. “It’s going to grow back really quickly. And we’ll make a colourful wig for you later, so your head won’t burn in the warm sun.”
That night, while the two of us were sitting in front of the telly, Reggie made a whole lot of plaits for me, of different lengths and colours. We chose a couple of combinations, and then she carefully fastened them to my head. She even pinned on a pretty bow.
“What do you think?” she asked, holding me up to the mirror, “Will this do until your hair grows back?”
“Oh yes.” I said happily. “This will do.”