There’s no lack of women participants at the annual Hair for Hope fundraising drive for Children’s Cancer Foundation.


People in the midst of getting shaved for Hair for Hope.
People in the midst of getting shaved for Hair for Hope.


Bernice Liu was going under the razor for the first time. The 28-year-old was nervous about her “virgin shave” but she’s determined to go bald for her mother, a cancer survivor.


Bernice’s mother lost her hair after undergoing chemotherapy as part of her cancer treatment. Like many other cancer patients, she became self-conscious without her crowning glory.


To reassure her mother that bald is beautiful, Bernice decided to take part in Hair for Hope, a signature fundraising event for the Children’s Cancer Foundation.


Bernice Liu before her shave


“If we go out, we can wear caps together. We’ll be bald together, and people can stare at both of us,” said Bernice after parted with her lush hair at VivoCity shopping mall.


Bernice’s brave act would not only reassure her mother but many child cancer patients and their families as well. She’s one of the tens of thousands of participants in this annual fundraising drive, which started in 2003. The hair shaving ceremony is typically held at a main venue and a number of smaller venues over a few months.


Last year’s event attracted more than 6,000 “shavees” and close to $3.3 million in donations. The numbers for this year are still being tabulated.


There’s no lack of female participants at the main event at VivoCity this year. Jaya Bhavnani, 34, for example, was back for her second shave. She said it took much persuasion before her parents came to support her decision at first.


“In our culture, we (women) don’t cut or shave our hair,” said Jaya. “But slowly, they understood why I wanted to do this.”


Jaya Bhavnani before her shave


Her reason for doing this? She wants to let child cancer patients know that they are not “strange” or “awkward” for not having hair.


Another woman participant was Puja Dada, 40, who came to have her hair shaved off in memory of her cousin, a bone cancer patient who died at the age of 10 in 1993.


“I remember very clearly that when she started losing her hair, she looked very upset as if she was losing a leg,” said Puja.


“I also saw how financially draining it was for my aunt, so through Hair for Hope, I want to give my support because money shouldn’t be what the families are worrying about when their children are suffering,” she added.


Puja Dada before her shave


Puja encouraged others to follow suit when they’re ready – when they’re not terrified of the prospect of going bald.


“This is vanity for me, but for them (cancer patients) it’s so much more. I hope they stay strong and I wish them all the best,” she said.