A series of touching photos from a St. Baldrick’s event were shared with the Foundation. These photos captured a story that begged to be told.
In her own words, Jamie Roy shares how she found herself in the barber’s chair for what would be her fourth time shaving for St. Baldrick’s. This time, Jamie took the place of a friend, Jeri Jones, who lost her son Daniel to childhood cancer. Before Jamie was shorn, Jeri shared her son’s story with the crowd, bringing many to tears. This is their St. Baldrick’s story, on March, 16, 2012 at the Denver, Co. Fado’s Irish Pub event.
Photos by: Anne James Photography (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th); Cold Nose Photography (2nd)
“Jeri and I worked together back in the 90s, and truthfully had lost touch quite a long time ago. Then Facebook came along, and we reconnected via the internet. Last summer, she shared with her Facebook family that Daniel had been diagnosed with childhood cancer. Of course, I was devastated for her and her family. So, like so many others, I prayed and began to follow her posts, and the Facebook page she’d created for Daniel. I would do my best to send words of encouragement, but what can you really say to a mother who is watching her son battle cancer? I felt helpless.
Around Valentine’s Day, Daniel was facing some challenges, and I was closely following posts regarding his condition… I remember feeling so optimistic for him. Then late one Friday evening, I saw Jeri’s post that Daniel’s heart had stopped, and they were unable to revive him. I was at a complete loss for what to say. I was desperate to tell Jeri and Ruben (Daniel’s father) how sorry I was, how tragic it was, but again, what can you possibly say? I spent almost an hour trying to compose some string of words that would even begin to express my sympathy for their pain, but they all just seemed so empty, meaningless and small.
A couple of days later, Jeri posted that her husband would be shaving at Fado’s Irish Pub for St. Baldrick’s in honor of Daniel. In that moment, I knew it was something I had to do. This was something I could go do that would show so much more than words could ever say. I felt that by showing up, raising money, and shaving my head, I could say to them with my actions all the things that words just aren’t enough for.
I don’t know how long it had been since I’d seen Jeri, maybe six years? When I saw her that day at the event, I immediately broke into tears. To me, seeing parents lose a child so young is such a tragedy. It’s simply not the natural order of things to bury our children. Again, I was at a loss for words, and I suddenly felt like shaving was such an insignificant thing.
Then, she asked if I would be willing to go up on stage with her while she spoke to the crowd. ‘Of course I would, I would do anything to support you,’ I told her. She shared with me that Daniel used to love to stroke her hair, and that he had asked her not to shave her hair off when he started treatments. She explained, with tears in her eyes, that she wasn’t ready to let go of the hair he had so gently played with during his short life, and asked if I would shave in her place. All I could say, as I choked back tears of my own was, ‘Of course, it would be my honor.’
Then one of the event organizers asked if I’d be willing to let Jeri shave my head after she spoke to the crowd. We both thought it was a great idea. The best part though, was Jeri’s speech to the crowd that day. As she shared Daniel’s story, the crowd in the tent grew, and silence began to fill the air. People were hanging on her every word, and the power and impact Jeri gave us all with Daniel’s story that day was awesome. You could feel the impact she was having with her words; you could see Daniel’s story touching people’s hearts.
Since the event, I’ve had so many people tell me how brave I am to have shaved my head. I always laugh and say, not really. My hair will grow back… True bravery is what Daniel showed us every day when he faced his treatments. True bravery is what Jeri and Ruben gave every day when they put on a happy face for their son. True bravery is getting up out of bed every morning and facing the day, when you’ve lost your child to cancer. So I tell people, the true Brave Warriors, are the children, and the parents of children with cancer. And if raising money and shaving my head means one less child or one less parent has to face such tragedy, I’ll shave it every day.”
(Read another "Behind the Photo" story: Samantha’s Spontaneous Shave for Childhood Cancer)