Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College
Business students at Western Nevada College might not recognize one of their instructors when they return from spring break.
That’s because business instructor Roberta Butterfield and her teenage daughter, Kasha, had their long locks sheared to the scalp on Friday, March 16. Their consent to become bald is part of a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser to help find cures for children with cancer, as well as the Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program that will use their abundance of hair to make wigs for cancer patients.
“Most of my women friends have said they wouldn’t shave their heads and seem a little scared for me, let alone their teenage daughters,” Butterfield said. “Kasha has always fit the Shakespeare quote: ‘And though she be but little, she is fierce.’”
Butterfield became involved with St. Baldrick’s, a not-for-profit foundation committed to finding cures for childhood cancers and providing survivors with long and healthy lives, last year.
“I’d never heard of St. Baldrick’s before, but when I found out the money goes to pediatric cancer research and care, I wanted to be involved,” Butterfield said. “I found out about it too late that year to be a shavee and donated to one of my team members. But I realized the only people who signed up to be shavees were guys who were practically bald already; it seemed to me we needed to get a little more hair on the floor.”
A year later, it has become a family cause.
“When I told my girls about my plan, my oldest said she wanted in — and why didn’t we grow our hair out to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program at the same time,” she said. “Both of my daughters and I have donated our hair to make wigs for cancer patients multiple times, so it was an easy add on.”
The family’s fight against cancer became more personal last fall when Butterfield’s husband, Eric, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
“We are lucky since there are many treatment options, but it’s lifetime maintenance using various chemotherapy drugs. There is no cure — currently,” she said, noting that his best chance for cure is a new immunotherapy treatment called CAR-T cell therapy.
As the day neared for their longer-than-usual locks to disappear, Butterfield was actually looking forward to becoming bald.
“Honestly, neither of us have ever had our hair this long … and we really can’t wait to get rid of it,” said Butterfield, whose fundraising event begins at 6 p.m. March 16 in the Downtown Reno Ballroom, 401 N. Center St. “It’s too much work keeping it neat, especially in the Nevada winds.”
Besides, they are prepared for the aftermath.
“We have caps and hats and even a couple of wigs,” she said. “My biggest concern isn’t cold as much as sunburn. I’m also curious to see if the stitches I got in the back of my head in first grade will show as a scar. Could be very Frankenstein.”
Donations can still be made to Roberta and Kasha’s website pages through St. Baldrick’s. To donate to Roberta, go to www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/950452/2018. To make a donation to Kasha, go to www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/950477/2018. Pictures will be posted to their website pages following their head-shaving fundraiser on March 16.
Anyone interesting in sharing their St. Baldrick’s photos can do so through WNC’s Facebook page.