Hannah the Brave
“It’s shave day, it’s shave day” Hannah screamed as she pounced on our bed last Wednesday morning! I know it’s been nearly a week since Hannah’s beautiful red locks were shaved off that little head of hers, so I’m sorry to only now be posting about it.
What an evening…it might have been rainy and cold outside, but inside on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange it was filled with warmth and love as 600 people gathered to not only raise money for childhood cancer research, but also to raise awareness as nine men, two little boys, and one little girl shaved their heads at this Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation event. When the shaving was set to begin, Dena Sherwood had asked Hannah if she would say a few words. Hannah grabbed the microphone and began to explain to the crowd surrounding her why she wanted to give up those beautiful red locks for childhood cancer. Her goals were simple, to donate her hair, to inspire people, and to show kids fighting that they are not alone….done, done and done!
As most of you already know, I went into Hannah’s classroom the day before the event to talk to the kids about what Hannah was doing and why. I also read a book to them called The Famous Hat, and together at the end we looked at and discussed photos of Natalie throughout her treatment. When all said and done, the kids were so excited for Hannah wishing their little friend good luck. But even with the success of this visit, I was still pretty nervous about the other 575 kids in school who weren’t there to hear the details of what Hannah was about to do. I was (and still am a little bit) nervous that Hannah would get teased and how she would handle that. In fact, back when Hannah was persistent about shaving her head to begin with, I did give her this warning, that it was bound to happen via some child who simply wouldn’t understand the magnitude of this selfless act. At that time she had responded with “I don’t care, I’m beautiful just the way I am.” With that Dan and I decided to support her in this decision fully! At one point I even had a child life specialist try to convince me to allow her to show Hannah alternate ways that she can help kids with cancer, rather then to do something so drastic that she very well might regret…but we stuck to our guns because clearly this was very important to Hannah and quite honestly, it would be a valuable life lesson for the good or the bad.
Fast forward to the day of the shave, I felt the need to give Hannah one final warning, that unfortunately we live in a society where many people simply won’t be as supportive as her close friends and family, and that words can hurt more then you’d know. Then, just as before, Hannah quickly responded, “mommy, I really don’t care, I’ll be fine,” and simply carried on with eating her Cheerios. Okay, if Hannah is comfortable then I need to get comfortable with everything too…after all, I am the adult here!
After Hannah gave her speech to the crowd of people surrounding her at The Shave, she calmly sat in the chair with a smile, as the stylist began to shave her hair. You’ll notice in some of the photos that Natalie was crying as she yelled, “I don’t want them to take Hannah’s hair off.” The stylist Michele reacted quickly by asking Natalie if she’d like to help. Normally when Natalie’s upset, talking to her is the worst thing that you can do as an outsider…and picking her up, well that leads to a complete flip out. However with Michele’s offer Natalie nodded yes, was swooped off her feet, then began assisting Michele with Hannah’s shave. A few moments later she wanted to get down and as Michele continued shaving Hannah’s hair, Natalie was now calm and began picking up the falling pieces of red hair telling me that she wants to take a few pieces home…so we did.
As Michele was nearing the end of Hannah’s shave the crowd began to clap and cheer and Hannah’s smile got bigger and bigger. I put her little face in my hands, kissed her cheeks and told her just how proud of her that I was. She replied, “Mommy, this is a very powerful moment.” Can this beautiful creature truly be my child, and is she really only 7-years-old?
The very next day, four of the nine men who shaved (along with 7-year-old cancer survivor Billy Sherwood who shaved as well) came to our home at 8:30am just to escort Hannah into her class and to talk to the kids about her selfless act, and how she is their Hero for being so brave. I was incredibly moved when Dena told me that they wanted to do this for her, and Hannah was simply over the moon to have this support from the guys!
Hannah’s classmates all clapped when she walked in, and took turns rubbing her little head. One friend even brought in his favorite cowboy hat for her. My sweet girl has gotten nothing but support from her classmates as kids are asking to high-five her wherever she goes (Thank you NS parents). I even received an e-mail from the PTA president later that day inviting Hannah to their next meeting so that she can be recognized as her school’s Student Ambassador!
I have never seen Hannah so proud of herself, and the best part is that instead of getting wrapped up into all of this extra attention, her intentions remain pure as she asks me if I think Julianna would be proud of her (Julianna is our friend who died of childhood cancer just over a year ago). She truly did this gesture from the bottom of her heart with the hopes of helping others, and there is just nothing more beautiful then that!
I am one proud mommy to say the very least!