Brittany goes bald for Pals
How much is your hair worth?
Brittany DeMelo got more than $21,000 from friends, family and co-workers when she shaved her 14-inch locks.
She passed the funds on to local cancer charity Pals, after Salon Pink stylist Chelsea Nelmes took to her head with a Number Two on Sunday at Shelly Bay Field.
Ms DeMelo then packaged her braids and sent them to Locks of Love, a US charity that provides custom-made wigs for disadvantaged children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions such as alopecia and cancer treatment.
It was something she’d been inspired to do, having seen how cancer had affected people around her.
“I have witnessed many family members and friends battle cancer – grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends. Some winning their battles, while others sadly lost their battles. It’s difficult watching those you love fight the big fight,” she said.
“I’ve always felt like, for someone battling cancer and who maybe doesn’t have hair, that maybe it would just put a smile on their face – even if it’s just for a few minutes. So I’ve always really wanted to do it.”
Adding to that, she had “never really appreciated" having all the hair she had.
”It’s always work for me. I’m not one of those people that enjoys waking up in the morning and doing my hair up. I was colouring it and then when I was finishing up university I thought, ‘OK, now’s the time. I’m tired of dying it. I just want to grow it out.’ It got pretty long within a couple of years so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
On hearing of Ms DeMelo’s plan Ms Nelmes immediately said she wanted to be on-board.
Pals was equally enthusiastic, doing its part to draw attention to her fundraiser, as was Ms DeMelo’s employer, RenaissanceRe.
“The company I work for sent [my request] around. Pals did a great job and created a flyer for me. I just sent in a picture and my write up and they did all the hard work,” she said. “They put it together and [we shared it with our] Facebook and Instagram contacts and all my family and friends [also sent] it along.”
Ms DeMelo was eager to help Pals because of all that it does for cancer patients here. As she explained in her public appeal for support:
“On many occasions, Pals Bermuda is at the frontline, assisting cancer patients when the hospitals no longer can. This not only makes it easier on the patients, but also their family and caregivers. Knowing there is an organisation dedicated to providing support to those in need provides a sense of warmth and comfort.
“In addition, this gives me the chance to donate my thick locks to a child battling cancer, hoping it will bring even a fraction of joy in a very difficult situation. I will be fronting the costs to donate my hair to Locks of Love, an organisation that manufactures prosthetic wigs to help financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term hair loss.”
Of course, the pandemic got in the way of her plan. Ms DeMelo initially planned to hold the shave last month but had to push the date forward because of the various Covid-19 regulations in force.
“I was getting nervous and then it got pushed back and then I had to wait, just to get nervous again. I think we couldn’t mix households at that time so I couldn’t have my hairdresser over,” she said, adding that including everyone she wanted would also have been a problem as her family alone numbered in excess of ten.
With the strong Bermuda sun in mind she decided it was better to not shave her head completely.
“It’s something I talked with [Chelsea] about – to go bald now, when it’s hot. I was worried about sunburn on my scalp. She [did a] Number Two so I would have a little bit of fuzz, just to protect my scalp. But I have [some headwear], hats and stuff.
“It’s usually shoulder length is as far as I go. So it’s going to be an adjustment for sure. My hair grows pretty quickly so I’m hoping it will only be a few years [before it gets to shoulder length but] I might just keep it short for a little while. We’ll see. Just knowing that someone else is going to be enjoying it and appreciating it is making me happy.”
That she was able to raise as much money as she has for Pals left her feeling completely “overwhelmed”.
“I thought I would make $10,000 and I would have been happy with that so to get up to more than $21,000 is overwhelming for sure. But I love all the support.”
Pals is still accepting donations in support of Brittany DeMelo. Visit pals.bm