Shaving & Sharing

I wanted to make my first ever vlog, however, I couldn’t get my video to upload to YouTube or Dropbox-or anyplace! Soooo…. I went with Plan B, take still shots of the video and create a photo blog!

Last week, I was contacted by an acquaintance who was interested in shaving his head for September to raise awareness for Pediatric Cancer, and he wanted RB and me to be involved. We decided I’d do his shave (I’m not shaving my own head again until the next St. Baldrick’s Event, so I’m letting my hair grow back right now), and he chose Sunday September 1st, since it was the first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

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The back window of Travis’s pickup.

Our friend, Travis, was the shavee. Travis is a firefighter who decided to help raise awareness for childhood cancer. He’s also a graduate student at Nicholl’s State University studying marine and environmental biology. All of his research is in microbiology, and he hopes to get onto a pediatric oncology research team after graduation.

Pre-shave photo with me, RB, and Travis. RB isn't very pleased with his new glasses. But I think they're cute as can be!
Pre-shave photo with me, RB, and Travis.

On Sunday, Travis came to our home so that I could video the shave so that we could share it. Unfortunately, like I’ve already written, the tech gods were not smiling down on me. Instead of being able to share the video, I can still share still shots of the video, though!

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I’m an expert shaver, by the way. I’ve been shaving Robot Dad’s head for about 13 years now. And I shaved my own a few times after I initially shaved it last March, too.

Travis decided to go all the way, with a razor.
Travis decided to go all the way, with a razor.
Post shave photo with RB
Post shave photo with RB

Not only did Travis decide to shave his head for Childhood Cancer Awareness, he also spent Sunday chalking the back windshields of cars with messages to help spread the word about pediatric cancer.

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He even did Robot Boy’s van before he left so that we can spread the message whenever we’re on the road, too.

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In my video, I thanked Travis and everyone who goes out of their way to spread awareness for pediatric cancer. Those of us in the pediatric cancer community try to make childhood cancer known to more people throughout the year, but especially during September because it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We are thankful to everyone who shares the message, as well.

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Donna’s Day: Learning Hope

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A year ago, my then 29 month old son was diagnosed with a PNET (Primal Neuroectodermal Tumor) in his brain stem, and it extended down, tentacle-like, into his spinal cord. He was given a 40% chance of survival. Very little of the tumor was removed, as it was so embedded within crucial parts of his brain and spine.

It was about this time I found some fellow bloggers who’d participated in a St. Baldrick‘s event to raise awareness and donations toward pediatric brain cancer-and in honor of a lovely sprite of a girl taken too soon by brain cancer, Donna.

Through their writing, I learned of Mary Tyler Mom’s blog, and Donna’s Cancer Story. I didn’t read Donna’s Cancer Story for many months. It was always there, waiting patiently for me to be ready. I was afraid of it, because I knew how it ended, and because it was my story, my son’s story.

I began following Mary Tyler Mom’s blog and Facebook, and I learned of Donna’s Good Things. I found strength through Mary Tyler Mom’s ability to continue on after experiencing such tragedy.

Today is Donna’s Day. It is a day meant for us in the pediatric cancer community to raise our voices and awareness for a much under-researched disease that is the number one killer of children over the age of one.

According to Pediatric Genome Project :
“Cancer is still the leading cause of death from disease among U.S. children over one year of age. Cancer kills more children than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, AIDS, asthma and juvenile diabetes combined.”

Few cancer research organizations dedicate enough of their donations to pediactric cancer research. St. Baldrick’s is the only organization that donates all of their funds to ped cancer research. Besides using more of their funds for solicitation than for research, The American Cancer Society only allocates 1/2 cent of every dollar they do dedicate to research on ped cancer.

There are St. Baldrick’s events nationwide, and several coming up in my city, New Orleans. Check out the link here.

Show up or stay home, shave or don’t shave, but you can always help by clicking the donate button. Anything helps. Don’t feel like because you may not be able to donate a lot you shouldn’t. A little adds up to a lot.

My son, Robot Boy, is recovering. We are in a place Mary Tyler Mom has titled Scarred Acres:

“Scarred Acres, full of children finished with their treatment, but marked in a hundred different ways by their cancer. Some will live in Scarred Acres the rest of their lives.”

We are working hard, RB is working hardest of all, to rehabilitate and hopefully-one day-in the far or near future, we might move from Scarred Acres.

Reading Donna’s Cancer Story has taught me the importance of choosing hope. We are making future plans. They may be castles in the sky, but one day my strong superhero Robot Boy might turn them into bricks and mortar.

I’d like to leave you with this link to a sad yet heart-lightening video of Donna’s joyful moments.

Donna’s Joy Montage

A Donnell by Any Other Name

Readers, it’s become obvious to me as of late that I’ve got a rather confusing dilemma. It involves my name. Although I am named after my mother-my first name is her middle name, and my middle name is her first name-it is a name that has, over the last couple of decades, become popular as a man’s  name.

I didn’t realize it until I was an adult. I’d never even known anyone, male or female, with my name until I was in my early twenties. It was around then I started to meet some folks randomly who shared my name. However, they were all men. I haven’t cared much about it until recently. It’s been fun telling telemarketers there is no Mr. Donnell Jeansonne living at my residence. But recently I had to make a call regarding my son, and I was asked by the person on the other end of the phone, “You’re a she?” And lately I’m receiving correspondences from magazine editors and such addressed to Mr. Donnell Jeansonne. Yet I am very much a Mrs! Should I take the advice of some and change my name? I don’t really want to. I like having a unique name. It fits my personality.

From what I’ve read, though, I’m not in bad company. Best selling author Anne Rice’s real name is Howard, after her father, I’ve read. The website Girl2Watch.com lists the following female celebrities with male names in their article 15 Female Celebs with Guy Names: Alex Kingston, Cameron Diaz, Chris Evert, Drew Barrymore, Glenn Close, Fergie, Jami Gertz, Hayden Panitierre, James King, Jeri Ryan, Jordin Sparks, Peyton List, Scottie Thompson, Reese Witherspoon, and Sean Young. Not that I think I’ll ever become a female celebrity with a guy name, but it’s at least comforting to know there are successful women with names not matching a conventional moniker of their gender. It’s also been discovered that female lawyers with masculine names are more successful, make more money, and are more likely to be appointed to judgeships. I’m certainly no lawyer. But I could always create a fictional one.

I’m insulted by the assumption of others that I am male simply because of my name. Not so much because they assume I am a man, because I could care less about that. But because I am being stereotyped, placed into their convenient standardized packaging. It’s why I don’t want to change my name. It’s mine. It wasn’t given to me without thought and sentiment. And it’s how I’ve identified myself for over three decades.

Now while writing this a thought came to me. I could always use my first and middle name together, thereby maybe helping others to understand that I am in fact a woman-with a man’s name. What do you think? Would the name Donnell Maria Jeansonne better illustrate my gender to those reading my name without the ability to see my face or hear my voice? Should I change my name altogether and choose a different name? Should I just say who cares and correct others who assume I’m a male?

Would a Donnell by any other name smell as sweet? 

All images taken from Microsoft Office Free Clip Art http://office.microsoft.com