The bald truth behind Ryan’s wild experiment

  • Grooming regimen: Ryan Sulley cannot wait to shave his beard for St Baldrick’s Day (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

    Grooming regimen: Ryan Sulley cannot wait to shave his beard for St Baldrick’s Day (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Ryan Sulley has always had a beard, but five months ago decided to let it grow wild.

Complete strangers stop him in the street to say they like it — he does not.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “It is a lot of work to make sure it is not disgusting. I shampoo, condition and use beard oil; I have the whole regimen.

“It takes me an extra ten minutes every morning to get out of the door.”

Still, he is determined to carry on growing it until March 13 as part of St Baldrick’s, an annual fundraiser for childhood cancer research.

He is doing it in honour of Ella, the seven-year-old cousin of his wife, Angela.

In October, the family learnt she had high-risk, stage three neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer found only in children.

“I first met Ella when we got married in Canada last August,” said Mr Sulley, financial controller for Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd.

“She owned the dancefloor at the wedding. Ella has already undergone a nine-hour surgery to remove half of a grapefruit-sized tumour, in addition to three or four rounds of chemotherapy.

“She is just reaching the end of that. She is a ball of positivity, even now when she has just gone through chemotherapy, which is heartbreaking for everyone around her, except for her.

“It is pretty incredible seeing her strength while she is going through this. She is the sweetest little girl you could imagine meeting. She is a spark in everyone’s life. That is 100 per cent why I am doing it.”

He didn’t know anything about the disease prior to Ella.

“I don’t think many people have heard of it,” he said. “I understand it is pretty rare. It usually affects children under the age of ten. It is typically diagnosed around the age of 2.”

Doctors aren’t sure why Ella’s cancer wasn’t detected sooner. The family remain optimistic about her prognosis. “She will get better, and we’re holding on to that,” Mr Sulley said. “Ella is her energetic self and it is breaking our hearts that she will likely get really sick from the treatment before she gets better.”

Bermuda has raised funds in support of the St Baldrick’s Foundation since 2002.

A total of $337,998 was collected last year, of which 10 per cent went to the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre’s SunSmart Programme, a skin cancer awareness and prevention programme for children.

While most people participating in St Baldrick’s shave their heads it would have been a pointless exercise for Mr Sulley, who describes himself as “proudly bald”. So far he has raised $2,044, mostly by “harassing” his friends; his ambition is to raise $5,000.

“I think that will be a challenge,” he said. “It seems like a bit of a reach, but it makes me think it is possible now.”

He is looking forward to the day when he can be rid of all the hair on his face. “I think my wife is looking forward to it more than I am,” he said. “I will have a naked chin. I can’t remember the last time I felt fresh air on my face.”

Ryan Sulley will have his beard shaved at Docksider’s on March 13. Shaving starts at 6pm. To donate:

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Published Feb 6, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 6, 2020 at 7:35 am)

The bald truth behind Ryan’s wild experiment

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