Students donate hair, shave heads for Colleges Against Cancer event


Students participated by donating a minimum of eight inches of their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which makes wigs for women with cancer. 

St. Edward’s University hosted its inaugural #TopperShave event as part of the Colleges Against Cancer–College Relay for Life movement last week.

Guests were required to donate at least $5 to benefit the American Cancer Society or eight inches of hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which makes wigs for women with cancer.

The Topper Shave event, which took place on March 3, was headed by senior Melinda Szabo, whose mother passed away from cancer two-and-a-half years ago. After her mother’s passing, Szabo wanted to shave her head, but her father insisted that she did not.

Now in college with the freedom to make the decision for herself, Szabo was very excited to be making a hair donation as well as shaving her head.

Amy Clements, professor of English writing and rhetoric, is a breast cancer survivor who shared the experiences she faced after being diagnosed in the fall semester and improving in health throughout this semester.

Having a perfect bill of health last summer, she was especially surprised to learn of her stage-two diagnosis right before the beginning of the school year. Officially cancer free, Clements spoke of the importance of wigs.

“Being able to wear a wig kind of took my mind off of that (in perfect health in the summer). You don’t necessarily have to look at yourself in the mirror and see a constant reminder of cancer,” Clements said.

Clements, with a peach-fuzzed head, chose not to wear her wig while at the event to show that hair does indeed grow back, both for cancer survivors and for those who decide to cut their hair.

“I feel good to feel good … I’ve never been so grateful to feel energized, to have an appetite, to have a plate of Chuy’s dinner,” Clements said. “Everybody knows somebody who has had a personal experience with this illness, so it is good to be able to talk about it so openly.”

At the event, six people shaved their heads for symbolic support for cancer patients and four students donated their hair for natural wigs.

“I’m donating my hair because when I was in eighth grade one of my best friends passed away from cancer,” freshman Matthew DiSalvo said.

Other students echoed that their hair donations were in honor of losing loved ones to cancer.

Hair stylists from Austin’s Nuvani Institute assisted students with their hair cutting and head shaving, while Chuy’s donated a nacho bar for the event.

Students and guests in attendance also wrote messages on a red banner. Uplifting messages for cancer patients and names of those affected by cancer will be displayed at the annual St. Edward’s Relay for Life on April 17.

“Tonight is its own kind of celebration of help. It’s a way of saying there’s always going to be someone who is going to help you, whether it be a stranger who will come to your assistance,” Clements said. “That is worth celebrating.”

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