At first, Chelsea Flynn casually let her big idea slip out to her co-workers at Texas Oncology Granbury.
Before long, she realized she was in too deep to turn back.
She’s fully committed to “going bald for relay” – the Relay For Life. If Team Texas Oncology’s goal of $5,000 is met by 5 p.m. on April 18, she said she will have someone shave her head the following day on stage at the Relay For Life community event at Acton Middle School.
It may be easy to say you’re willing to have your head shaved to benefit cancer victims. But at some point the reality sits in – that your nickname may become “cue ball.”
Flynn said she got the idea while looking at fundraising ideas used by other people for various events, then set the goal of $5,000.
“I thought that if it was a big goal, it would help us raise more money,” Flynn said. “It was my idea, and I think I threw it out there as a ploy (to raise money), and it stuck. Then it was too late to turn back. It just kind of picked up from there. I’m calling it ‘Going Bald for Relay.’”
Flynn seems happy to do it.
“It all goes for a good cause,” said Flynn, 24, a 2007 Granbury High School graduate who is an appointment scheduler at Texas Oncology. “I’m just going to ‘rock the bald.’”
She wants to draw attention to the annual Relay For Life effort, which benefits the American Cancer Society.
“I just thought that it would get people more excited about Relay and more involved. A lot of people don’t know we have Relay. All the money helps programs like Look Good, Feel Better and the (cancer) research.”
Patient Services Representative Julia Johnson at Texas Oncology said that Flynn, despite her young age, has embraced their clients and developed a bond with them since coming to work there a little over two years ago.
“I know why she did it. She did it for the patients,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t surprise me. She’s that kind of person. She’s a ‘go big or go home’ kind of person.”
Their patients are “amazing,” Flynn noted.
“Our patients are wonderful,” she said. “They’re very strong. That’s why I’m doing it, because they’re all affected by everything.”
Flynn said she has always had long hair. She said that the last time she got it cut – the old-fashioned way, at a salon – she went home with it 7 inches shorter.
Flynn, who quipped, “We’re a long-haired family,” talked it over with her mother, her nephew and her boyfriend before making the decision.
“My mom wants to have a T-shirt made that says, ‘I went bald for Relay.’ My nephew (age 8) is worried about it, though,” Flynn said. “He said, ‘Aunt Chelsea, don’t do it. I don’t want you to be bald. I think once it happens, he will be excited. For the most part, my family is very supportive.”
Flynn said if the shaving takes place, she will be okay with it. She doesn’t plan to cover up with a wig or a hat.
“I might as well show it all the time,” Flynn said. “If people stare at me, it won’t bother me at all. I’ve been told more than once that I have no idea how bad it will be until I don’t have hair. But some of our patients tell me that hair’s overrated.”
Flynn said she hopes to donate the hair to Locks of Love (used for making wigs for child cancer patients), but she’s not sure it will have time to grow to the minimum length of 10 inches.
She noted that Dr. David D’Spain of Texas Oncology Granbury already keeps his hair closely cropped.
“He’s very excited that I’ll be in the same club as him – the bald club,” Flynn joked.
Johnson added, “Our patients are really getting into this.”
“They’re excited,” Flynn said.
Despite the nature of the oncology business, the employees seem to have no trouble maintaining a certain levity.
“When you work in cancer care, people think it’s sad and depressing, but it’s not,” Johnson said. “The disease is horrible, but what it brings out in people is very positive.”
HOW TO GIVE
To make a tax-deductible donation online (www.relayforlife.org) with a credit card, type in “Texas Oncology” in the Team Name search box.
Then look search the list of Texas Oncology teams and click on “Donate” where you find the name Rhonna Oriti, the Texas Oncology Granbury team’s co-captain.
Donations can also be dropped off at the Texas Oncology Granbury office, 303 W. Pearl St. Office hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There’s also a Facebook page (Texas Oncology Granbury) to keep up with the fundraising exploits and timeline.
The team raised a little over $1,300 at a yard sale on March 23. Prior to that, a fundraiser at Panda Express brought in about $200.
About $250 has been raised through the sale of $1 tickets for a drawing, with the winner earning the right to do the actual shaving.
As of Monday morning, the total donated through Team Texas Oncology Granbury had reached $3,050.36, Flynn said.
“A lot of people say they will buy tickets, but they won’t shave my head,” Flynn said, noting that one of them was Dr. D’Spain. “My mom (Lois Flynn) said if nobody follows through, then she’ll do it.
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