March 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the Leukaemia Foundation’s national fundraising event, World’s Greatest Shave.
Since 1998 Australians of all ages have been shaving their hair to raise money for blood cancer research and patient support.
Every day 35 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer through pathology – leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are some of the most common types. And although research and improved treatments are increasing survival rates, sadly one Australian dies from blood cancer every two hours.
This year’s campaign has raised over $12 million and part of that total is thanks to a group of collection staff from Dorevitch Pathology in Victoria.
Kim Cam, Jennifer Wong, Sandy Wignall, Marie Obanana and Julia Barwick go by the name of Path Chicks and all the women, plus 11-year old Jesse Finney, shaved off their hair earlier this month, raising an incredible $12,000 in the process.
All blood cancer patients rely on pathology for diagnosis as well as monitoring during their treatment and follow up to make sure the cancer doesn’t return. There are a multitude of staff in the lab involved in this process but the face of pathology for those patients is their collector.
Waiting for a diagnosis and the subsequent treatment journey is a scary and stressful time for a patient – a friendly collector can go a long way in putting someone at ease. But the Path Chicks wanted to go one step further in helping patients. As Kim puts it;
“It’s our patients that have inspired us to take part in the World’s Greatest Shave, some of them on their own special journey. It’s their strength, courage, bravery and friendships that led us to create the Path Chicks. This is our way of showing our support.”
Jennifer previously worked on a student placement in a dedicated cancer hospital, giving her an extra insight into the services needed to care for patients and their families.
There were more personal reasons amongst the group for wanting to take part too. Julia, for example, was prompted to join up after her father in law’s battle with leukaemia, whilst Lorraine, who worked tirelessly to fundraise with local businesses, wanted to help having lost a family member to the disease. Even Jesse, at just 11 years old understands the devastating effects of cancer, having seen family members go through diagnosis and treatment. In her own words; “cancer is such a bad thing & hopefully they will find a cure.”
Fundraising events like the World’s Greatest Shave, and the people willing to give up their time (and in this case hair!) to make them a success, play a big role in hopefully making that dream a reality one day.
It’s not too late to support the Path Chicks – donations are open until June and can be made on the link here.