Four nurses from Canberra Hospital have raised over $15,000 after shaving their hair for blood cancer.
Claire Doherty, Gabrielle Nugan, Genevieve Gerrett and Lucy Clark all participated in the World’s Greatest Shave for the Leukaemia Foundation on 6 January.
Beginning as a conversation at work, the nurses decided to participate in the World’s Greatest Shave together, sacrificing hair to save lives. Team Hairy Operative Nurses was born and after raising over $15,000, the donations are still coming in.
For Ms Doherty this is the second time she has shaved her head for a good cause.
“I did it once before, 11 years ago and raised $2,000. I always planned to do it again at one point,” she said.
“It was brought up casually in conversation at work and it sparked the idea. It was 6 months in the making.”
The team name, Hairy Operative Nurses, is a play on their role in the hospital. Working as perioperative nurses, a nursing speciality that care for patients before and after surgery, they have looked after various patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.
According to the Leukaemia Foundation, leukaemia is the name given to a group of cancers that develop in bone marrow, originating in white cells. Every 31 minutes, one Australia is diagnosed with a blood cancer and 15 people per day lose their battle with the disease.
Each of the Canberra Hospital nurses has friends, family and co-workers who have fought cancer. For Ms Nugan, the loss of her grandfather and great-aunt to leukaemia was one of the many reasons she wanted to give back.
“I’ve always wanted to do it,” she said.
“I’ve cared for patients and we’ve shared those heart felt moments; we’ve laughed and cried. It’s just hair and we have the choice, and they don’t.
“We wanted to start a conversation about something really important.”
According to Ms Doherty, Hairy Operative Nurses set the goal of raising $1,000 each and were “overwhelmed” when the donations kept rolling in. When 6 January finally arrived, they had their friends, family and colleagues help cut their hair before a ex-hairdresser and current nurse finished the job.
“We weighed the hair on the day, and it came to 500 grams of hair in total,” said Ms Nugan.
“We decided to donate it to Sustainable Salons, an Australian and New Zealand group. They turn it into wigs for cancer patients and for people with other diseases and conditions.”
Sustainable Salons is the official sustainability partner of the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave and as well as making wigs, they turn hair clippings into Hair Booms, to help soak up oil spills in the ocean.
“The little bits will also be composted and turned into fertiliser,” Ms Nugan explained.
“There’s a number of salons associated with Sustainable Salons in Canberra. We donated the hair to a salon in Jerrabomberra and they’re sending it off for us.”
While their hair is already growing back, it will be a while before the Hairy Operative Nurses are hairy enough to participate again.
“I would encourage my colleagues to do it. It was a great bonding experience. We’ve been really supported by our manager and her manager,” Ms Nugan said.
“I hope one day when someone is diagnosed, in the same sentence they will have a cure.”
The Hairy Operative Nurses will continue to accept donations until June. Donations can be made here.
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