June 18, 2014

Harrington Physician Services Employees Shave Heads for Cancer

WEBSTER, Mass. - June 18, 2014 - Harrington Physician Services Medical Assistant Laurie Hosegood donates to some kind of charity every year. While doing her research for this year's recipient, she stumbled upon the One Mission Kid's Cancer Buzz-Off.

"We all know cancer is a horrible disease... and kids are our future," Hosegood said. "And I have kids and ... it just seemed like something I should do."

One Mission started in 2010 as a way to support kids with cancer and their families. Participants volunteer to shave their heads, and in exchange, ask friends and family to sponsor their bold statement with a financial donation. This year's event was held June 8 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

As soon as Hosegood decided to participate, she started asking around for others to join her.

"A lot of people said, ‘Oh I could never do that!'" said Hosegood. "And my response to them would be, ‘Listen to what you're saying. How do you think kids feel? They don't get a choice.' No one does when you have cancer."

Hosegood then turned her request to her colleagues - Harrington Physician Services Nurse Practitioner Susan Murtagh and Harrington Physician Services Family Medicine Physician Gennady Gelman.

Immediately - both jumped on board.

It was an easy decision for Gelman, who has donated his hair to Locks of Love in the past. "Absolutely I was in," he said with a smile. "I thought it was a good cause. I wasn't nervous - just happy to support."

For Murtagh, the request hit a little closer to home. Murtagh is a 2013 breast cancer survivor. Though she said even if she never had cancer, she would have volunteered, anyway.

"My immediate family has been touched with three cancers in past year. It puts a lot into perspective," Murtagh said. "If I can help anyone else through it, I will. [But] it's in our nature to give and help. It's such a small sacrifice. It's hard enough being an adult with cancer. I can't imagine being a parent of a child who is going through it."

Murtagh came up with the name Team Baldilocks and the trio turned to friends and family to raise money through the Kids Cancer Buzz Off website. They surpassed their initial goal of $2,000 and to date have raised more than $3,500.

Hosegood said the vibe inside Gillette was overwhelming. "You didn't meet one person who wasn't excited or honored to be there. Everyone was in such good spirits. You'd buzz your head and the person next to you would be buzzing theirs and you'd look at each other and smile. It was just incredible."

Murtagh even had shirts made with the team name and photos from the event, which get a lot of compliments from patients, though she acknowledges getting some extra looks when out in public.

"You have to be comfortable in your own skin," she said. "I had one guy come up to me and say, ‘I saw you and I wondered what kind of cancer you had, if you were okay. And then I saw your shirt.' They're just amazed."

One Mission's popularity and donations have exploded since inception. In 2010, only 30 heads were shaved in support. That number has jumped to 865 in 2014, with more than 3,400 people attending the event. All proceeds from The Kid's Cancer Buzz-Off help ease the physical, emotional and financial toll of childhood cancer on patients and their families. While some of the funding supports research, other portions help pay family bills, purchase groceries and put loved ones in hotels to be closer to children who are receiving treatment.

Hosegood said it is her plan to participate next year, hopefully with a much larger group who also want to join her.

"It's hair," she said. "It grows back."

Team Baldilocks can accept donations through October 1. To donate: http://tinyurl.com/teambaldilocks