Go Bald, a head shaving event, is an annual fundraising activity for Malaysian NGO Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society (SCCS) since 2009.
Each year many brave people all over Sarawak choose to lose their hair during the month of May in support of this event.
Each participant has their own reasons on doing so, be it in support of the children, in memory of a loved one who died from cancer or doing it out of a dare amongst friends, or just doing it to collect the annual Go Bald T shirt as a souvenir. There are no right or wrong reasons to Go Bald.
However, this courageous act of going bald is more than what meets the eye. It has helped more than 900 children in Sarawak and their families during their battle against cancer over the past 9 years.
Here are six ways Go Bald help kids to fight cancer:
Building a home away from home
Paediatric Oncology Ward 2A in Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching is the main childhood cancer treatment facility in Sarawak.
Every year, many children all over Sarawak are admitted to the ward for cancer treatment. With cancer treatments taking months and up to a year at times, outstation children and their families are faced with the challenge of finding a temporary accommodation in between treatments.
Understanding that this is a stressful period for both children and caregiver, SCCS made it their top priority to operate a halfway home to provide free temporary accommodation for the children and caregivers.
With the funds raised from Go Bald and the public over a period of 4 years, SCCS built a brand-new Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC) costing RM2.3 million which opened its doors in February 2013.
The new centre has 13 children friendly rooms carefully planned and designed. Each room is fully air-conditioned and furnished and comes with a fully equipped bathroom. Handicap-accessible rooms are on the ground floor, as well as a kitchen, dining room, playground and television room lined with plush couches.
Apart from accommodation, SCCS provides food rations and daily shuttle services to and from the hospital for free.
In 2016, the new centre has provided accommodation for 51 children and their caregivers.
Once treatment has been planned in SGH Kuching, patients may opt to continue their treatment back in in Miri, Sibu and Bintulu.
In effort to provide the same service for patients from rural areas in those cities, SCCS began to scout for a new home for Miri and Sibu in 2014. Miri’s halfway home opened its doors in February 2016.
Sustainable support and services for children and families
Since its formation in 1999, SCCS has supported more than 900 children and their family.
With an average of 70 children diagnosed with cancer each year, not to mention the number of relapse cases, much resources and energy is invested to ensure sustainable support and services are readily available to the children and their family.
The services provided by SCCS include:
Support – Counselling sessions, sharing sessions, home visits, and bereavement support. In 2014, staff of SCCS conducted 800 counselling sessions and made 16 home visits to patients over the state.
Financial Aid – Caring for a child with cancer is beyond the means of most of the patients we serve. To families demonstrating financial need, SCCS provides monetary assistance. In 2014, SCCS provided financial aids, travelling claims and subsidies of more than RM90, 000 to more than 60 families.
Education – Their tutor at Ward 2A, creates fun learning activities through arts and craft and tutoring sessions for our patients in the ward. They also have craft Wednesdays where volunteers can participate in fun crafts with the children at the hospital clinic during their regular check-up.
Recreation – SCCS organises crafts, performances, holiday camps and other activities for children at the ward and the centre. They also provide the hospital with plenty of books, games and toys for the patients. Thanks to the support of various corporations and NGOs, they can also offer the children various outings to fun happenings around town.
They know that for children with cancer, each birthday is a victory. To celebrate each patient, they organise birthday parties at the ward or the centre, complete with presents and cake.
To do so, the society has built a team of nine passionate full time staff to run the day-to-day operations and services.
Better medical care and comfort during treatment
Every year, SCCS sponsors medical consumables and donates medical equipment not provided by the Sarawak General Hospital to ease the financial burden of the families as well as to provide the best care for the children.
These include some medications, blood filters, and central-venous lines.
In 2016, SCCS expended more than RM290,000 for daily medical consumables used at Sarawak General Hospital, transplant costs and medication.
A second chance at life
There are various cancer treatment options for different kinds of cancer. Occasionally, a child has to undergo bone marrow transplant as part of their cancer treatment.
The cost of a bone marrow transplant ranges and could easily be more than hundreds of thousands depending on each cases.
This expenditure is too large for many families to bear. To provide support for these children and families, SCCS has set up a reserve fund of RM 1.5 million for 2017.
Creating awareness about Childhood Cancer save lives
Childhood Cancer is relatively rare among other childhood diseases on average there is 1 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 children ages 0 to 14 years yearly.
In 2016, there were 73 new diagnosis in Sarawak. Despite Childhood Cancer being relatively rare, it is the leading cause of disease-related death among children and adolescents (ages 1 to 19 years) in the United States.
Nonetheless, with the improvement in medical treatment over the years and with the knowledge of the basic signs and symptoms of childhood cancer, the chances of survival for early detection is far greater than those detected at a later stage.
Hope, love and support
In a world where the perception of beauty is heavily influenced by the media, it takes a lot of courage for one to choose to Go Bald. But this is not an option for cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment.
By choosing this noble act of going bald, you are telling the children and their families that you care and that they are not alone in this fight against cancer.
In addition, the participants are sending a powerful message that it is ok to be bald and that being bald is beautiful!
So, the next time you go bald, know that this act of boldness is much more that it seems. Thank you for your tremendous support, and together let’s continue to help kids fight cancer!
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