Lea Mayer And Dr. Jeremy Edwards

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - April 13, 2011
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Photo from Dr. Jeremy Edwards

According to Dr. Jeremy Edwards, a pediatric oncologist at Tripler Army Medical Center, childhood cancer is the No. 1 disease-killer of children in the United States, with a new child diagnosed with some form of the disease every three to four minutes.

“One of every five children diagnosed with cancer will not survive their disease,” Edwards notes, “and two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors will have lifelong conditions that arise from the cancer treatment itself. Both those numbers are way too high, so more funding is necessary for pediatric cancer research to both cure more cancer and make the treatments bearable.”

To show his support for the young patients he sees every day, Edwards will be shaving his head this Sunday (April 17) at Dave & Buster’s to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to funding children’s cancer research and treatments.

“When children receive chemotherapy to treat their cancer, they usually lose their hair as a side effect, which can be very traumatic. St. Baldrick’s participants shave their heads to show solidarity with their patients who have lost their hair,” explains Edwards, who initiated Hawaii’s first-time involvement with this national event after participating in two during a fellowship in Washington, D.C.

At press time, 77 people had pledged to go under the buzzers, including a mix of doctors, nurses, parents, friends and even a former cancer patient.

Among the shavees will be Tripler pediatric hemotology/oncology nurse Lea Mayer, who has mixed emotions about going bald for the first time.

“I am going to be honest,” Mayer says, “the thought of shaving my head initially gave me nightmares. As a woman, we identify ourselves with our hair more than we realize. We put a lot of effort into it, making it look nice, because it is part of our image. Then I thought about our kids (our pediatric oncology patients) and how they don’t have a choice about their image - either they receive treatment and lose their hair or they die from their disease.”

Stylists from Paul Brown Salon will commence the shaving at noon, with a silent auction and live entertainment by Henry Kapono and others to follow. To sign up for a shave or support those already making the cut, visit stbaldricks.org/events/stbaldrickshawaii.

“The more people we have, the more donations we get,” Edwards says. “We would like to see as many as possible, hundreds and hundreds!”

“All of the cool kids I know are bald,” Mayer adds. “I want to be a cool kid too.”


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