How a Child’s Battle with Cancer Became a Mother’s Journey to Shave Her Head
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be told your child has cancer, yet every year there are an estimated 15,780 children in the United States who are diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. Every day thousands of parents struggle as they watch their loved ones suffer. This is the story of one such parent and why she decided to lose her hair so that others won’t have to lose their children.
Nancy Smith is a Nursing Instructor at Carrington College in Reno, a trade school committed to student achievement with a skills-based approach to education. She has two sons, Hunter who is 10 and her youngest, Logan, who is seven years old. So while she has experience assisting and caring for others, her journey in supporting her youngest son is just beginning.
Logan is currently battling a rare type of cancer called neuroblastoma, which is often found in the small glands on top of the kidneys (adrenal glands) and can develop in the belly, chest, neck, pelvis and bones. Children ages five or younger are most commonly affected and the type of treatment typically depends on the patient’s age and how much the disease has spread.
Logan was originally diagnosed at two and a half years old and finished treatment just over a year later. He relapsed in Jan. 2019 at six and a half years old, right after his mother Nancy started her new position teaching a clinical group at Carrington College. Doctors found abnormalities on his scans and he started chemotherapy by Feb. 2019. It takes a lot of strength to keep going after being told your son has relapsed with cancer for a second time, but then it also takes a lot to deal with cancer when you’re just a child.
Throughout Logan’s Journey, the Smith family has received an incredible amount of support from friends, family, students, colleagues and the non-profit Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, an organization that provides support for families while helping to raise money for cancer research. When Logan relapsed last year, the student council at Carrington College organized a toy drive to benefit the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation.
In addition, Nancy and her husband, along with their two sons Logan and Hunter, will soon be participating in an upcoming St. Baldrick’s event on March 20. Her oldest son Hunter is on Team Logan and her husband is on a team with his former co-workers. They will be shaving their heads to raise money for cancer research.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on raising funds to help find cures for children with cancer. The first St. Baldrick’s event took place in New York City, but has since grown into the world’s largest volunteer fundraising event benefiting childhood cancer research. Volunteers, who are sponsored by family and friends, will publicly shave their heads in solidarity with children who typically lose their hair during cancer treatment.
While cancer itself doesn’t typically cause hair loss, a common treatment for the disease does. Chemotherapy kills rapidly growing cells, which generally affects hair follicles on patient’s head. People typically shave their heads out of convenience (instead of it gradually fallout out over time), but also as a symbolic measure to show that they are in control of the cancer and not the other way around. It’s a powerful way to take action against something that so many people are affected by and often feel powerless. For Nancy and Logan, it’s also about raising awareness and money for research, and their journey is not over yet.
Please take some time to read more about Logan and the organizations that support their family. Also make sure to follow them on their journey to St. Baldrick’s as they say farewell to their hair in an act of love and encouragement for every child affected by cancer.