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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Losing hair, growing funds for pediatric cancer research

Bee Farina’s daughter was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer in September 2007. Less than a year after that, 13-year-old Meghan lost her battle against Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) — a destructive tumor located in the pons region of the brainstem.

Four years later, Farina, a staff member in the Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library, decided to shave her head in front of a crowd of people at Stony Brook University in memory of Meghan.

“I’m doing this in memory of my hero, my daughter. Even though I hate that there’s a reason why we have to do this, I’m grateful that I can do my small part to help the next child with cancer,” Farina, who was not the only one to go bald that day, said.

About 30 people — mostly SBU students — shaved their heads or donated their ponytails on Tuesday, March 13, in solidarity with children who lose their hair during cancer treatments and to help raise funds for childhood cancer research.

The event was organized by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity that raises funds for childhood cancer research primarily through head-shaving events, and it was also part of the university’s annual Battle of the Undergraduate Colleges.

More than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. In the United States, more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with the disease in 2007, according to the National Cancer Institute, and about 1,500 of them have died or will die from the disease.

Alex Foo, a pre-med student who raised $100 by having his hair shaved on Tuesday, said the event is special for him because he lost his grandmother to cancer two years ago.

“Even though it was my grandmother, not a child, I still wanted to participate,” he said. “This a great cause. It really brings awareness to childhood cancer.”

At the end of the day, the foundation raised about $7,000. Farina alone raised more than $3,500. Last year, when the event was first held at SBU, St. Baldrick’s raised about $7,600, according to Jeremy Marchese, an advisor for the Arts, Culture, and Humanities Undergraduate College.

Last month, St. Baldrick’s donated $50,000 towards the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program at Stony Brook  Children’s Hospital.

After having a professional hairdresser cut most of her hair, Farina asked her husband, Santo Farina, to shave her head himself so they could “symbolize how a family is always together” when it comes to fighting childhood cancer.

“We’ve been through it together. Let’s do everything together,” he said.

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