Shave, spray or bail out? The annual CANSA Shavathon is here!

It’s that time of year again, when you can say goodbye to bad hair days, goodbye to shampoos and conditioners, hair gels, hair colourants and hair sprays, blow-dryers, combs and brushes, and hairdressers and barbers.

And you can say hello and welcome to quick showers, broad-rimmed hats on sunny days and warm snuggly beanies on wintery days.

This year will be the 80th birthday of the Cancer Association of South Africa – and the 8th annual Shavathon. The event is taking place at about 200 shopping centres all around the country on Saturday, 5 March 2011, with numerous places of work actually hosting their own ‘shave or spray’ events today (3 March 2011) and Friday (4 March 2011). The aim of the event is to create public awareness of cancer, while also raising funds for CANSA – a shave, spray or bail-out each costs R50.

  • Shave: If you are sufficiently brave, you can have all your hair shaved off, using a number 1 to number 4 cut. They no longer do clean-shaves (presumably for health and safety reasons, given the prevalence of AIDS and other blood-borne illnesses). If your hair is at least 22cm or longer, clean and dry, you can even donate it to be refashioned into a wig for a cancer patient.
  • Spray: If you are particularly attached (!) to your hair, or are growing it for a special occasion, or have a grouchy boss who’s going to fire you if you cut it off, then 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.
  • Bail-Out: If you don’t want to do either of those, or you panic at the last moment (which I can completely understand!), you can also pay the bail-out fee. Either way, CANSA wins.

In 2009, after emailing pretty much everyone I knew (erm, sorry ’bout that… ;-)), I eventually convinced hubby and two dear friends of ours that this would be a cool thing to do for a really good cause, and we duly allowed some strong young men wielding shavers, with a mischievous twinkle in their eyes, to remove our unruly mops of hair (have a read before and after).

This year, after somehow missing last year’s event, I’ve persuaded hubby (poor dear) and a dear friend from my school days to accompany me to one of the participating shopping centres. Regardless of what we end up doing, CANSA is getting our R50. Given that every single one of us will most likely, at some time in our lives, either know someone who is fighting cancer, or who has died of cancer, or have to fight cancer ourselves, I think this is a very good cause to support.

So, are you participating?

P.S. Have a look here for the latest news release, and here for an article describing what happens to the money they collect.

14 thoughts on “Shave, spray or bail out? The annual CANSA Shavathon is here!

    • Giggle… Having the emotional support and doing it with friends as part of a nationwide group energy thing really helped tremendously. Can you imagine if all our respective blog-friends, subscribers and followers in South Africa participated together? Not at the same venue, because we’re located all over the country, but still going through the process and sharing our experiences afterwards? I think that’d be pretty neat, don’t you? Perhaps some of us might even meet!

      After the last time, for a week or two, everytime I glimpsed my reflection, I’d do a double-take, “Holy cow, is that me?” But what I thought was most interesting were all the emotions that came welling up from somewhere deep inside… fear of loss, fear of dying, fear of not fitting in, shame, panic, as well as joy and relief, a sense of freedom, letting go of attachments, a sense of peace and new beginnings.

      On the Shavathon website, this event is promoted as a way of showing solidarity with cancer survivors, or with people who are fighting cancer right now, or with loved ones who have died from cancer. Although I think that’s nice in theory, and does probably make one feel good and worthwhile, I do also wonder whether it makes any difference to those who did go through the hell of chemo and radiation etc. that huge crowds of people shave or spray their hair on one/two days a year. What do you think?

      You know what, Lisa? It’s just hair! It’ll all grow back. It’s no big deal. 🙂

    • Your arguments sound so good . . . in theory! 😉

      I told Willie about your scheme last night. He says I don’t go out much in mid-summer, so not many people will see me “bald”. Plus, it would be nice and cool.

      All true, but I have long hair at the moment and I think it would be too psychologically traumatizing. Maybe next year . . .

    • Hello Tinkerbelle,

      Welcome to my blog, and thank you so much for leaving a comment, because that meant I could go and look at your blog, which made me laugh so much! So thank you, and you now have a new subscriber. 🙂

      On a serious note, though, I hope that your sister has recovered by now? And good on her male friends for supporting her like that, I’m sure it made her feel a lot less lonely.

  1. Hi Reggie,
    My youngest sister lost all her hair during chemo treatments for breast cancer a couple of months ago. She was shocked at how quickly it fell out over the course of just a couple of days. She’s been wearing hats and scarves to stay warm during the winter here. She found it cool even in the house.

    This year for Christmas one of my sons gave me a hope bracelet which is sold as a cancer fundraiser in Newfoundland. The bracelet consists of a string of colored crystals, each one meant to represent a different type of cancer. A card in the box lists all the types along with the color. On the cover of the box the question is asked: “Who are you wearing it for?” I thought it was a brilliant campaign idea.

    My mom has been a cancer patient for almost 8 years. When she was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer she was told by several doctors that she had only 3 months to live. Despite the grim verdict, she proved them all wrong and feels healthier now than ever. She even had her colostomy reversed which is unheard of among patients who have had one for such a long time (6 years) and are in their late seventies. Sometimes hope is all we have, but it can be enough.

    • Hello Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story, it really brings it home.

      It really is frightening when you sit down to make a list of all the people you know who have had cancer, or who have died from cancer, or who are still fighting it – whether in your family, or your circle of friends, or among your colleagues from work, or even your blog friends.

      Blessings and healing thoughts to your sister and your mother – may they both fully recover and be full of health and energy for the rest of their lives. 🙂

      I really love the idea of the bracelet. Do you have a photo of it on your blog? I’d love to see what it looks like.

      • You’re welcome – and thank you so much for the photos – it looks really beautiful and like an inspirational idea. I think I shall forward the idea to CANSA, if that’s okay.

    • Reggie, that campaign has been so successful in Newfoundland that it’s been a challenge for them to keep up with the demand for bracelets. In Ontario where my family lives, they have other jewelry fund raisers for cancer. I don’t think it’s an idea that anyone ‘owns.’

    • I agree, Al. The bail-out option is really nice if you arrive at the venue and suddenly panic at the thought of shaving it all off.

      The spray that they used on Richard’s hair came out in a single wash, which was nice. It would’ve made a mess of clothes and bedding otherwise.

      The ‘downside’ (for me!) is that he only had one day of looking a little silly and colourful 🙂 – but now he looks completely normal again, whereas it is going to take a while for me to have my ‘normal’ spiky-stick-up-everywhere hair again… 😉

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