Oamaru woman Karen White will have to get used to having no hair for a little while, but given what she’s recently been through, that won’t concern her.
Mrs White was diagnosed with cancer late last year, after spending most of the year looking after an ill family member.
To make an already bad stretch even worse, her best friend died the day after heart surgery – on the same day Mrs White had surgery of her own, to remove cancer from her breast.
Mrs White had a mammogram last year, and 11 days later had a biopsy which confirmed she had cancer.
Four days later, she was on the operating table.
Last Friday, Mrs White got together with her fellow North Otago FUNtastic Red Hatters at the Manor Estate in Oamaru to shave her head in support of cancer patients everywhere.
Several members of the group, which “co-queen” Joan Sutherland described as a band of women who “just like to have fun”, took turns chopping Mrs White’s locks and then shaving her head.
While she was somewhat shocked running her hand over her nearly-bald head when her haircut was completed, Mrs White felt it was all worth it.
She wanted to make sure others learned from her experience.
“I want to educate the wise, senior people, as our community can’t survive without wisdom. I want to educate people about the importance of mammograms for all ages . . . the challenge for myself is to try and get some speaking engagements.”
She said all money raised on the day would go to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, which allocated funding for the Otago region.
Mrs White thanked the Red Hatters for their support throughout her treatment and recovery, and the day of her close shave.
“I feel absolutely humbled that I’ve got this beautiful support from these girls today. I’m either mad or brave – probably a bit of both. It’s given me an opportunity to help people. That’s what it’s all about.”
Anyone keen to help Mrs White raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation can contact her on (027) 299-2913.
Clarification: The Red Hatters are women who offer support and friendship.
Some have had experience of cancer but some have not.
All money raised by Mrs White will be donated to the Breast Cancer Foundation for general purposes, not for cancer research.