Cremona High School Grade 12 student and self-described mental health youth ambassador Gizelle de Guzman will be sporting a unique look to her graduation this year – the day before grad, de Guzman will be shaving her head in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation. Her hair will then be donated to A Child’s Voice Foundation, which provides wigs and hair loss solutions to financially disadvantaged children in Canada.
“I’ve been affected by cancer in so many ways,” de Guzman said. “My mom and my stepmom both passed away from cancer when I was younger, and I’ve met so many people at Camp Kindle who have been affected by childhood cancer in some way. It’s amazing to me how they turn these feelings, their experiences into something amazing.”
De Guzman will be participating in the Kids Cancer Care’s Shave Your Lid for a Kid program, with the goal of raising $1,000 to go towards cancer research. Currently, she said, she’s almost reached her goal.
“I just want to give back to the community, that’s really important to me,” she said. “I’m very anxious to shave my head before grad, but that’s really the whole purpose – I’m trying to spread awareness that your hair isn’t more important than anything else.”
De Guzman said she hopes by going to her own graduation bald, she can make students who are living with cancer feel confident about attending their own graduations or proms.
“As a mental health youth ambassador for the Alberta Children’s Hospital, I’ve experienced a lot of tough times, myself,” she said. “It’s always good to have support and feel encouraged, and I think there are a lot of people out there who maybe don’t truly understand what it feels like to go through that path of healing.”
Having been through the experience of losing her mother at the age of nine and then her stepmom in 2014, de Guzman said she is familiar with what it takes to heal from that kind of loss – and how it feels to be so deeply affected by cancer.
“When one person has cancer, so many other people are affected by that diagnosis, in one way or another,” she said. “It’s a hard time for everyone, dealing with things like anger and grief and acceptance, and I just want to make a difference for them.”
De Guzman will be shaving her head the day before her high school graduation, on June 23 at 5 p.m. at Mezzanine Hair Studio in Airdrie. Donations can be made to kidscancercare.akaraisin.com/shaves/takebaldtograd