Do you know someone with cancer? Have you wondered how you can show your support? This Valentine’s Day, we're launching an exciting new fundraising campaign - Totally Baldacious. When you shave or color your hair, you are showing your solidarity with cancer patients, raise awareness about cancer, and help raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Amy Barlett is the Totally Baldacious Honored Hero. Amy holds a special place in our heart as a non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor who’s also a multi-event Team In Training alumna! When Amy lost her hair during treatment, she found the silver lining...noting that, “When you’re bald you don’t have to worry about a bad hair day.”
Read this Q&A with Amy:
LLS: In May you celebrate 3 years in remission. Congratulations! When you began treatment and lost your hair did anyone shave their head to show their solidarity with you?
Amy: Twenty of my male friends all let me shave their heads before my sister shaved mine in front of about 100 of my family and friends. I shaved mullets, mohawks, tails...you name it.
LLS: How did you feel when you realized that they were doing that?
Amy: The day I found out I was going to lose my hair I decided I wanted to throw a party and lose it on my own terms. Over 100 people showed up to the party. I was amazed and honored. When the boys lined up, it was so unexpected yet made the evening more fun. For us, it was about turning a sad part of cancer in to a happy memory. When I think of losing my hair, I go back and look at the pictures of the party. It was seriously one of the best nights of my whole life.
LLS: Part of the reason we've launched Totally Baldacious just before Valentine's Day is to spread love to our patients and raise awareness for the importance of showing support for patients. When you were undergoing treatment, how important was your support system to you?
Amy: Having a support system is extremely important. I am fiercely independent and had a hard time accepting help at first. Asking for help actually makes you stronger. It is not a sign of weakness. Knowing my friends shaved their heads to be "on my team" meant everything to me.
LLS: What LLS resources did you take advantage of at the time?
Amy: The night of my party we also accepted donations and had a silent auction with all money raised going to LLS. We raised over $20,000 that evening. I joined Team In Training during my treatment to give me a good fitness goal for the end of the chemo and radiation road. It motivated me to go for walks and stay active even in the darkest days. Saturdays I knew I would see the team and we inspired each other. I was so grateful to the other participants for raising money for people like me - with cancer. And they thanked me for providing them motivation to get up, log the miles, and raise the money.
LLS: You have a blog, www.ichoosehope.com and a twitter profile (@amyebartlett) - how will you be promoting Totally Baldacious online through February?
Amy: While I won't be shaving my head again for the Totally Baldacious month, I would love to connect with patients and hear other inspiring stories of the best parts of being bald. Like - how fun accessorizing your head can be...big sunglasses, scarves, hoop earrings. Just decorate it! Tattoos are super fun, or henna art could also be beautiful. I wish I would have thought of the artistic things when I was bald. Turn it in to an opportunity to be creative and put a smile on your face. And remember, you can't have a bad hair day if you are bald. That is a bonus.
LLS: Will you be using the Be Baldacious widget to bald yourself and tell your friends?
Amy: Yes, I will share this with my friends and family.
LLS: Amy, one of the most remarkable things about you and your story is your connection to Team In Training. How many times have you participated in Team In Training?
Amy: I had been a participant in TNT four times before I was every diagnosed. In a strange way, I believe my early involvement could have played a role in my successful treatment. Perhaps some of the money I raised over the years helped advance research that has given me a second chance at life... I have participated two times after being a patient, and I am signing up this year, again, for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.
LLS: And how much have you raised to date to fight cancer?
Amy: Somewhere in the $60,000 range which truly boggles my mind. The dark times in our lives can truly reveal the best qualities in people. I receive donations when I am not even officially training. People write a check and say "this is for your next one" which is so amazing.
LLS: I understand you are considering participating again, is that true?
Amy: Yes, I sure am.. I want to eventually do an Olympic distance triathlon, but I haven't worked up the courage for that yet. For now I am sticking with 1/2 and full marathons.
LLS: What would you say to others who are contemplating Team In Training but have never trained before?
Amy: It will be one of the best experiences of your life.
LLS: What's the best thing about your Team In Training experience?
Amy: Knowing that I am making a difference in someone's life. My dream one day is for us to be able to say "Remember when people used to get cancer?"
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