Meet the Shavee – Pediatric Nurse in California to Go Bald for Cancer Research

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 24, 2020

As we head into the month of March, we’re gearing up for the height of Head-Shave season – the majority of St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events are held during March.

For the blog today, we’re introducing you to one of those who will become a first-time shavee this year, Melody Flores from San Francisco. Melody agreed to answer a few questions through email; she was on a trip to Africa while she did (and she’ll tell you why below). 

NurseMelody Flores will Brave the Shave on March 14, 2020.

First of all, tell us about yourself.

I am a labor and delivery nurse in San Francisco and am very passionate about maternal, infant, and pediatric health outcomes. 

Although I do not have any children yet, my husband and I are looking forward to starting a family in the next few years and are looking into adoption as well. I have a nephew who means the world to me and has brought our family so much joy!

When I’m not advocating for mamas in labor or swaddling babies, I enjoy trying new foods (my husband is a wonderful cook), and I really enjoy exploring the outdoors. My most recent accomplishment is summitting Mount Kilimanjaro! My latest addiction is searching dog rescue websites (we rescued our little Stevie a few months ago and already have our hands full), so that is quite the problem.

Tell us about your travels and why you’re in Tanzania.

I had an amazing opportunity to come to Tanzania and volunteer as a nurse with a great organization that is working to increase access to quality healthcare in rural communities. While in Tanzania, I practiced my role as a nurse in addition to providing education to the nursing staff here. This organization is wonderful because they hire Tanzanian-licensed healthcare workers, and by having volunteers come and provide education on the latest evidence-based practices, we can make sustainable improvements for several health initiatives. 

In all honesty I came to Tanzania to work and make an impact, but in turn this country, its vibrant culture and beautiful people left quite an impact on me.

two women smilingMelody Flores, pictured in Tanzania with a woman named Demares, a mother of a premature infant that Melody helped to treat (Photo courtesy of Melody Flores, used with permission).

Why was it important to go to Africa, and why now?

According to the World Health Organization, health outcomes are improving in Tanzania. However, maternal mortality still has yet to make as substantial improvements. With more than half of mothers delivering at home or having no assistance in their childbirth, and with even fewer mamas receiving consistent prenatal care throughout their pregnancy, it’s evident that there is room for more education, outreach, and compassionate healthcare professionals in Tanzania.

Why did you decide to get involved with St. Baldrick’s Foundation?

One of my friends is actually a pediatric oncology nurse and I’ve always felt a draw towards pediatric oncology nursing myself. However, when I saw that my friend shaved her head last year with St. Baldrick’s, I knew that I needed to Brave the Shave too! 

And why are you shaving your head on March 14?

I believe that each and every child should be able to have dreams and aspirations, and to live boldly. I see St. Baldrick’s working to fund the best research in pediatric cancer, and I want to get involved. Sometimes, there isn’t much we can do, and sometimes there IS something we can do!

I love the idea of shaving my head for the gesture of solidarity alone. In today’s world, I feel that the media defies beauty in a certain way, and I can only imagine what it would be like to be a child being diagnosed with cancer, going through treatment, and to lose your hair as well. However, raising money in addition is the icing on the cake. If me going bald, means that more children get to celebrate birthdays, graduate from college, and more parents gets to see their child get married or become grandparents, then count me in!

I made the decision to shave my head on March 14th to fight pediatric cancer, and so that there are more tomorrows and fewer goodbyes.

Anything else you want us to know about you or your work?

Although I do love my current career as a labor and delivery nurse, I know that the deep pull I feel towards pediatric oncology is not without purpose. I foresee myself transitioning into pediatric oncology nursing in the upcoming years.

Melody is one of thousands who will be shaving their heads for pediatric cancer research. You can donate support Melody in her quest to help #DFYchildhoodCancers at Melody’s personal fundraising page, or at the Oakland March 14 event page.

You can also donate to help fund all St. Baldrick’s efforts by clicking the button below.

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Join us today and #DFYchildhoodCancers!


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