I'm shaving my head to raise money for Macmillan research and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Overall, I think raising money for charity is a good thing. I also think these one off events help to garner a little bit more cash from people who already do Direct Debits but will do more with a little reminder like Lenny Henry or the chance for their friend to look like an idiot.
It took me a long time to decide I was going to do it because I was concerned about two things:
1. I'm scared I'll look ugly.
2. I don't like the way doing these "brave" events make it about you.
Two completely contradictory reasons to be nervous about doing a thing. I eventually made my mind up because I was so scared. I wouldn't be scared to run 10k so it didn't feel like a challenge for me. Which made my second reason for doubting all the more prevalant... Is it crass to immitate the symptoms of a disease to help raise money for it? Is it bad to raise money for the seriously ill by running a race and showing off your fitness? Or is it about looking at someone who needs help and saying, "I can't understand what you're going through but I can do this tiny gesture to show I'd share your pain if I could?"
Truth is I don't know. No one would has complained so far, and I trust Macmillan that this campaign has been researched and thought through. Still, the fear is there that somebody out there is battling cancer and seeing my friends posting about "how brave" I am and feeling worse than if I wasn't doing it.
Would we do the same for other diseases?
"Hey, I'm doing a sponsored hop for war veterans!"
"I'm raising money for deforestation, sponsor my house repossession?"
I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome... would I sponsor someone for a weekend on the vindaloo?
Ultimately, if it helps, it helps I suppose. I have made sure to put my own money into my sponsorship pot... otherwise I haven't actually given anything. It's too much like an Ice Bucket Challenge otherwise... that thing that raised awareness for ASL or ALS or SLA or whatever it was. You remember, it was great at raising awareness?
But I still feel uneasy. I'm just not sure. It doesn't sit well that there has to be gimmick. If I just started a page that said "I'm raising money for Macmillan" and I wasn't doing anything... would people give? It needs the catalyst for impetus, but perhaps the mimicking is the bit I can't get my head round. Excuse the pun.
My grandmother had cancer; over 10 years she had breast, bowel, skin and bone I think and finally died after fighting the sod for far longer than she should have had to. I don't really know what she'd think of what I was doing. She was a ferocious woman; either heartedly supportive or disdainfully dismissive. My suspicion is that the Grandma in her would override the cancer sufferer and she would probably just be cross that I was ruining my "lovely" hair.
It feels very strange to be doing a "good" thing and be struggling with a guilty conscience about whether it's right. I am so grateful for all the people donating - there have been some startling large amounts coming Macmillan's way.
I also feel awful about how scared I am of doing it. I'm scared about how gigging will be with such an altered appearance and whether I'll still be sexy for my brand new husband. It's the "having a shaved head will be awful" feeling that's keeping me going. Because for the people this money will help, losing their hair is a sign they're getting treated... it's not even in the top ten disasters their body is facing. And if it's all I'm scared of, then I need to stop being so self involved.