June. 2014. I’m standing, shaking, in front of St Anne’s JCR about to face my election hust. What will it be? A baked bean shower? A dance off? When my predecessor tells me all I have to do is promise to do a sponsored activity, I breathe a sigh of relief. But then I realise, I can’t skip out on this. This is my opportunity to show my true dedication to fundraising. So what do I do? I pledge to shave off my waist length hair. Much harder than a dance off, I think you’ll agree…
My hair-raising – forgive the pun – challenge will fundraise for two charities: IIH UK and Cancer Research UK. IIH UK supports sufferers of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension by providing information and support groups. IIH sufferers have higher pressure around the brain but not from a tumour or diseases. In fact, IIH has no known cause and is often a chronic problem. This is certainly the case for my close friend Jen Higgs who has just undergone her 18th operation trying to manage the symptoms of IIH. It doesn’t just have physical effects, but emotional ones too. Indeed, the condition can result in dramatic changes to your work and social life so one third of my fundraising target will go towards helping families cope with IIH.
The other two thirds of my fundraising target will be going to Cancer Research UK. We’re all familiar with this charity and their work but it’s important to establish why I chose to support a research charity as opposed to one devoted to care. First of all, IIH is largely a care charity and I feel that a balance between the two is necessary. Secondly, care could not have saved my granddad’s life. He was first diagnosed with cancer 2 years back and managed to make a swift and strong recovery. But then it came back. And this time, we weren’t so lucky. He passed away in April this year. I am cutting my hair off to only an inch of its former length in honour of his memory.
Many people have asked me, “Why not just run a marathon or something?” My answer to this is always complicated. I say, “I have these muscles problems; after I do exercise the….” And by this time they’re asleep. The fact is: I can’t run a marathon. My muscles won’t let me. For days after any bout of strenuous exercise I suffer from excruciating muscle cramps. The kind that stop you walking. The doctors don’t know why, they think it’s genetic and that’s about all the information I have on it.
Another question I get asked is, “Are you scared?” Of course I am! I’m terrified; the funny looks, the freezing cold… it all gives me butterflies. I’m going to do it anyway though. Why? Because I know it will be worth it for the lives we can change. My target is to raise a total of £1,500 and once I’ve hit this target then my whole head of hair will be shaved off. It’s a big target but I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think the aim was achievable!