Dozens of people packed Strait Coffee in Wilson Creek on Nov. 22 when Kate Hergott shaved off her lovely locks to raise more than $6,000 for young adults with cancer.
The fundraiser well exceeded Hergott’s expectations and resulted in two more volunteers facing the shears. Hergott’s boss Lyle Mufford and co-worker Pat Toynbee made good on their promises to get involved when the total hit the $5,000 mark.
“It felt so amazing to have Pat and Lyle alongside me shaving. We only found out that they would officially be shaving with me about a half hour before the shave started,” Hergott said. “I all of a sudden felt a sigh of relief, because I would have two people to share this crazy experience with!”
She said that in the end it wasn’t hard to let go of her hair, which would be made into a wig for a cancer patient in need.
“In July I had played with the idea of shaving my head and since then my hair didn’t really feel like it was mine anymore. Like it had already moved on to its new ‘owner,’” Hergott said. “I was totally cool with parting with it, although there seemed to be a lot of people who were more attached to my hair than I was.”
Hergott’s boss Mufford shaved his beard after sporting it for 25 years.
“So seeing [Lyle’s] face for the first time in that long was definitely a shock, but I think that he is starting to become more comfortable with his non-bearded face,” she said, noting her fellow co-worker Toynbee is “rockin’ that bald head.”
At the event Hergott asked friend and cancer survivor Ashley Doyle to explain how the money raised would support young adults with cancer through the group Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC).
Doyle said that young adults (defined by YACC as those between 18 and 39) face different challenges when diagnosed with cancer. Often they are just starting to gain independence when they’re given the news.
“A cancer diagnosis introduces unexpected issues into life at this time when most of our peers are enjoying independence and freedom,” Doyle said.
Having to face your own mortality at an early age is also a unique experience common to young adults with cancer.
“Mortality is not on the radar of your average 18 to 39 year old,” Doyle said.
She said the number one issue young adults with cancer face is isolation, which is where YACC comes in.
“YACC’s mission is to build a community for young adults diagnosed with cancer that provides information, skills, support and opportunity,” she said.
“The funds raised for today’s event will go directly towards YACCs retreat yourself program, which is their original face-to-face program where a group of 25 survivors spend a four day weekend together … studies have shown that these retreats very much improve quality of life for young adults as spending time and connecting with others who ‘get it’ can really help bring back a sense of normalcy, belonging, validation and community.”
The money Hergott’s Shave for the Brave event netted will allow four young adults to attend retreats in the coming year through YACC.
“So thank you everyone for coming to support Kate and this very important cause. You are changing lives today,” Doyle said.