Beautiful, beneficial and bald

By Lawrence Bailey

In 1984, I was four years old. The bulk of my memories from that time are sketchy at best, but the one that stands out most distinctly bears the stench of a cancer ward and the loss of a loved one.

My grandfather, Gordon Alexander Bailey, died of bowel cancer. He was 73.

By 1991, my memory was much sharper and one memory in particular is cemented in my mind, bearing the distinct smell of incense. I remember being an alter boy, standing on the alter of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Calgary, watching my aunts and uncles tearfully eulogize their father.

My grandfather, John Victor Van Tighem, died of leukemia after a painful 13-year battle. He was 73.

However, it wasn’t until 1997 that I first realized how devastatingly random cancer can be.

I came home from work one day and saw my younger brother sitting on the front steps of our house, having a cigarette. He seemed upset, so I asked him what the problem was. He told me that a friend of his, a 13-year-old mischievous hell raiser I knew well, had cancer.

It was one of the most sobering moments of my life.

Until that point, I was of the naïve assumption that cancer was a name we had given to "natural causes," something the elderly ended up with after their bodies wore down. In the years since, I have seen far too many examples of the havoc cancer can wreak, especially when it afflicts children.

That’s why it was a no-brainer to do something about it when I heard about Providing A Voice.

The organization, headed up by a trio of University of Calgary students, successfully raised $30,000 for cancer research last year through a head shaving campaign and is looking to build on that success this year, aiming for a very attainable total of $100,000. The proceeds are earmarked for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, helping both children who suffer from the disease and their families who are forced to battle through it with them.

I am one of many U of C students participating in this year’s event, as is Gauntlet Production Editor Вen Li, and I encourage anyone adventurous enough to lose their locks to do the same. Even those not willing to go bald for the summer can contribute by pledging whatever they can to someone who is.

Stop and think about it.

Two dollars for a coffee, five dollars for a beer, ten dollars for lunch–if you forgo any one of those, you become part of the solution, part of the ongoing battle to not only defeat cancer, but to help its youngest, smallest sufferers cope and overcome.

It’s 2004, and I am happy to say the 13-year-old diagnosed with cancer is now a 20-year-old cancer survivor. He’s still mischievous, he’s still raising hell, and while it wasn’t an easy road, he’s still here. Do what you can to help more people win the battle he has won.

We’ve all had our lives touched by cancer in some way shape or form. We are all affected by it.

Providing A Voice will help all kinds of people shed their winter coats in the North Courtyard of MacEwan Student Centre Wed., Mar. 31 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information, sign up or pledge, visit To sponsor either myself or Mr. Li, e-mail

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