Press Release – Leukaemia and Blood Foundation
Two Auckland mothers, Amy Ockelford and Marika Jones, whose two-year-old daughters Ella and Charlotte who have both lost their hair through treatment for leukaemia, are shaving their heads as part of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer’s Shave for a Cure Week this week (March 4 – 10).
The pair have decided to lose their locks to show solidarity with their little girls, reinforcing ‘bald is beautiful’ at Ludus Gym in Grafton on March 9 at 10.30 am.
Ella and Charlotte are both currently receiving chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) at Starship Hospital.
Their mums met when the two young girls had adjacent beds on the oncology ward, and have become close as their daughters undergo a grueling regime of blood tests, lumbar punctures, and chemotherapy which has side effects including stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
The girls are also neutropenic which means they can have limited contact with other children as they have limited white cells left to fight infection. This means no trip to the playground, no kindergarten and no friend’s birthday parties. It also means frantic trips to Starship for their parents when they develop life-threatening fevers.
Ella and Charlotte are five months apart in age and have become close friends.
“They are bald together, sick together but also happy together sharing occasional play dates on our farm where they are free from potentially harmful human germs,” says Jones.
When Amy and Marika asked their daughters if they were happy for them to shave their heads – they both got a resounding ‘yes’.
“Ella keeps coming up to me saying ‘Mummy no hair today?’ She’s hoping I’ll shave then and there. She lost all her own hair in June. It fell out in big clumps so we cut it into a pixie cut before she lost it all.
“Ella’s beautiful bald – she’s my little warrior. I hope that having other female role models with no hair will give the girls comfort,” says Ockelford.
Both Amy and Marika say they have met some amazing families along the way who also have children battling blood cancers and related conditions.
“It’s a scary and rare normality for us at the moment. We talk about platelets and blood over breakfast.
“Our family has days where we hate cancer, where we can’t go out. At the moment it’s just the little things that are milestones for us like Ella being able to eat a bag of chips,” says Ockelford.
“Amy and I are ready to be vulnerable, as our daughters are, to shave our beautiful locks to support Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. When we heard about Shave for a Cure it was the natural fit for both of us,” says Jones.
Shave for a Cure is Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand’s biggest fundraising event. Hundreds of people across their country will shave this week to raise money or the 6 New Zealanders diagnosed with a blood cancer – leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, or a related blood condition every day.
“We are so incredibly grateful to Amy and Marika for shaving on our behalf,” says Pru Etcheverry, CEO of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. “The very many difficulties they face echoes the challenges of many families we support across the country.
“We are thrilled to see that over 1,800 people have signed up to Shave, and we hope to see this increasing as they year progresses,” she says.
Amy and Marika have already raised close to $6,000 and have a fundraising target of $10,000.
About Shave for a Cure
Shave for a Cure is Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand’s largest fundraising event. Thousands of people across the country are shaving their heads to support the 6 Kiwis that are diagnosed with a blood cancer or related condition every day. This year Shave Week runs from March 4 – 10.
LBC receives no government funding and relies on Shave for a Cure to keep its services free of charge to patients. These include patient support, support and funding for research into blood cancers and related conditions, providing education and information and advocating on behalf of patients.
For more information visit: www.shaveforacure.co.nz.