'She always thought of others'
A 34-year-old woman who lost her battle with cancer had planned to surprise a survivor by honouring her in an annual charity cause.
It would have been the third time that Kevina Santucci, a mother of one, would have shaved her head in support of childhood cancer research.
Now Bermuda’s 20th annual St Baldrick’s Day, delayed until June by the Covid-19 pandemic, will go ahead with a special salute to Kevina.
Her mother, Karon Santucci, said: “I decided I will do it in her place. I can’t let it stop there.”
Her father Kevin Santucci, a pastor and chaplain, said Kevina’s goal to pay respect to a survivor had been kept a secret even from him.
“That was how she was,” he said. “She always did it for someone else. She always thought of others.”
Kevina, who had the rare cancer spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma, worked for the diagnostic imaging team at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. She died in February.
Mr Santucci said the family was waiting on an autopsy report to establish the cause of her death.
Mr Santucci added: “More than anything, I’d like that, from Kevina’s life, people will just stop for a moment and pick up the mantle of their own destiny.”
Sponsored head-shaving for St Baldrick’s was able to proceed as usual just before the arrival of Covid-19 in Bermuda last year.
Cheyra Bell, who took over as chairwoman in 2020, said the committee hoped that this year’s event could go ahead with a semblance of normality at the Docksider bar, on Front Street, in Hamilton on June 4.
“Last I checked, we raised more than $70,000 of our $100,000 total,” Ms Bell said. “It’s my hope we can exceed it.”
Ms Bell, who first shaved her head in 2018, added: “It’s an experience you can’t really put into words.”
Some participants have already shaved, but are still registered for June.
“The date change came as a surprise, which is OK,” Ms Bell said.
Kevina’s sudden death was a shock for the organisers, and in particular to Ms Bell, who attended the Bermuda Institute with her.
She said: “When we found out, we wanted to find a way to honour her.
“In reconnecting with her, I admired her strength and selflessness. Whether it was a phone call or a text, she wanted to ensure you were OK.”
Kevina’s team from last year is featured now on the St Baldrick’s Bermuda site.
Highlighting Kevina’s example is “a true testimony to who she was”, Ms Bell said.
“She is gone from the physical realm, but I don’t believe energy dies. She was somebody whose strength is so evident, it could rub off on many others.”
Ms Bell encouraged survivors and their families to “tell their stories” around St Baldrick’s to help others confronting cancer.
She added: “We’d love to get more schools participating.
“Parents might worry, but if a child is willing to go through with it, whether in honour of a family member or for children with cancer, that’s testament to their parenting.”
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