Head-shaving event marks Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Bald was beautiful Tuesday at Phoenix Children's Hospital. The hospital kicked off Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month with a head shaving event, where a few good docs "lost their locks!"

Hospital staff and patients came together in solidarity Tuesday, September 2, for the head-shaving event. Several young patients from the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders took razors in hand to shave the heads of several Phoenix Children's staff members, including Patrick Tomboc, DO, and Chris Oless, RN.

"Just show them love, have fun, dye my hair bleach it out, and have them buzz my head off, wear funny shoes and just have a laugh every single day with my patients," says Oless, explaining how he loves to make the kids happy.

Cancer is the number one cause of non-violent death in children. A child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes and one in five children will not survive five years. In the United States alone, 10,450 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

Parents are grateful for the effort shown by the hospital staffers. "Obviously if there is a kid with cancer, you want to help them and do what you can, and this is a huge way that people can help," says parent Kaye Wright.

Kaye's eight-year-old son, Ori, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two. After undergoing standard therapy for three years, Ori relapsed when he was almost six. He is nearly finished with his second round of therapy. He was one of the kids doing the shaving at Tuesday's event.

"You are happy about the times when you are thankful that he is doing well, but also you are unsure about the future," Kaye says.

Chris Oless says it's all about helping his young patients feel hopeful about the future. "I am so inspired by these kids, that they live their life and most importantly there is hope, They have hope for tomorrow; they have hope for careers," he says.

Phoenix Children's is a leading participant in research to find cures for childhood cancer. This research has allowed for major advances in treatment in recent decades. Often times, these vital research studies and patient care initiatives wouldn't happen without the generous support and grant funds from organizations such as the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research.

In 2013, Phoenix Children's Hospital was selected by the St. Baldrick's Foundation to receive a $1 million, two-year grant to study new treatments for childhood cancer, more specifically, finding ways to better treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It is in large part due to their support and efforts that Phoenix Children's is making strides to find better treatments and improve patient conditions and outcomes, with the goal to one day find a cure for this deadly disease.

About Phoenix Children's Hospital
Phoenix Children's Hospital, ranked in U.S. News & World Report's Best Children's Hospitals, is Arizona's only licensed children's hospital, providing world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. As one of the largest children's hospitals in the country, Phoenix Children's provides care across more than 75 pediatric specialties. The Hospital is poised for continued growth in quality patient care, research and medical education. For more information about the Hospital, visit www.phoenixchildrens.org.