CANSA Shavathon coming up!

The Cancer Association of South Africa is holding its annual countrywide Shavathon on Saturday, 7 March 2009, the day before the big Argus Cycle Tour, where I don’t know how many thousands of cyclists make their 110 km way around the Cape Peninsula.

The CANSA Shavathon (this year’s will be the sixth) is taking place at shopping centres around the country this Saturday, and places of work are hosting their own ‘shave or spray’ events on Friday. I saw on the website that the University of Cape Town is also hosting such an event, but I have not been able to find out the details. If I do, I’ll post them.

The principle is that you can either have all your hair shaved off, or – if you’re more particular about your hairstyle or don’t want to lose it all if you don’t absolutely have to, you can donate the same amount of money (R50) to have it sprayed a multitude of colours. It’s a vegetable dye, so it’ll come out after a couple of washes.

If you don’t want to do either of those, you can pay a bail-out fee, which is also R50. I think that’s rather a cool idea!

Having somehow missed the last 5 shavathons and only seen the results (a lot more really short-haired people in our streets than usual), this time I’m prepared… and actually thinking of participating. Not to be sprayed, but shaved.

On reading up on the practicalities, I was relieved to see that they no longer do a ‘Kojak’ clean shave – primarily because it’s easier to nick someone with a blade (which is not a good idea, particularly with rampant HIV/AIDS in this country). Instead, you are allowed to choose from a number 1 to a number 4 cut. I have unsuccessfully trawled the web for a description or even images of how SHORT that actually is… one would think that there’d be a lot more websites out there explaining this, but there ain’t.

All I *did* manage to figure out was that number 1 is really, really short, about as short as you can go without shaving it. But what increments there are up to number 4 will have to remain a mystery until Friday or Saturday. Unless you can explain it to me?

When I mentioned to Richard that the embers of my enthusiasm were glowing, he was a little alarmed.

Perturbed even.

It gave rise to an interesting discussion of how we define ourselves by our appearances, and how something as simple as the length or style of one’s hair can affect how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us – or how we think others will perceive us.

Of course, there’s also practical concerns – like, not having ever seen one’s skull in close-up before, what if one has a particularly bumpy or peculiar looking head? What about dandruff or eczema patches, or whatever other lifeforms lurk beneath our mop of hair? And with temperatures still soaring into the 30s (that’s celsius), would one need to apply copious amounts of sunscreen to one’s (almost) bald pate? And what if the boss or co-workers make snide comments – could one be fired for having no hair and looking a bit odd for a while? Probably not… there’s sure to be something in the various Employment Acts on that… (Pierre Viljoen wrote a lovely post about these questions, called To shave, or not to shave).

On a more serious note, though, on looking back over our lives, we realised just how many people we know have cancer in some form and how many have died from it. Many are in our family, or in our circle of friends. Some were older, some were still young and ‘full of life’ when they were diagnosed.

“According to the latest available statistics from the National Cancer Registry, one in four South Africans will be affected by cancer in his or her lifetime. This is what is known as lifetime risk (LR). See http://www.nhls.ac.za for the full report.” (from the CANSA website).

One in four…

That’s seriously scary.

So that’s what’s motivating me.

If you feel like joining us for moral support (and to stop us chickening out!), or even to participate yourselves, let me know!

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