More than 50 people braved the shave in an effort to conquer childhood cancer at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving event at Hennessey’s Tavern in Seal Beach on Saturday, April 14. “Shavees” raised more than $66,000 in support of life-saving childhood cancer research in three short hours. Shavees included many of Miller Children’s & Women’s physicians, care team members, patients, families and friends.
Each shavee had personal motivations for hitting the stage — for some it was their own fight against cancer. Breathing in deep as the clippers touched her head, 13-year-old Jillian Litton, was not only a first time shavee, but also a cancer survivor and former patient of Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s. The Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s is dedicated to participating in research and clinical trials to identify cancer causes and pioneer treatments for patients like Litton.
“Jillian was only 1 and a half years old when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia,” said Michelle Litton, Jillian’s mother. “Now she’s 13, and she wanted to take on the challenge of shaving her head in honor of all kids that are faced with cancer.
In addition to first time shavees, the event also includes time-honored shavees — all who return every year to continue their mission to raise funds for childhood cancer research.
Cheers rang out as 10-year shavee, Liudas Deveikis, took the stage. He was honored for his ongoing support by receiving the official title of Knight Commander, a ranking given by St. Baldrick’s that recognizes 10 - 14 years of consecutive service.
“I love the cause, every year I shave my head in solidarity with kids fighting cancer,” said Deveikis. “My favorite part after getting my head shaved is seeing the kids smile. I want them to know that it’s OK to be bald, and I want to raise money for vital childhood cancer research.”
Tempe Chen, M.D., Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s, is herself an eight-year cancer survivor and a four-time shavee. Dr. Chen honors her patients and passionately supports childhood cancer research, which is evident in her recognition as a top fundraiser of the event, exceeding her fundraising goal of $15,000.
“No effort is too small in the fight against childhood cancer,” said Dr. Chen. “Cancer affects children differently than adults and research is underfunded, which is why initiatives like St. Baldrick’s are so important. Every dollar makes a difference in the lives of infants, children, teens and young adults fighting cancer.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation supports clinical research at Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute through the Children’s Oncology Group by giving Miller Children’s & Women’s a supplemental grant each year.
Luidas Deveikis, Knight Commander recipient, (left) and Miller Children’s & Women’s infectious disease physician and Squire of Hope, Dr. Chen (right), pose after shaving their heads in solidarity with children that lose their hair as a result of cancer treatment.
Former Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute patient and cancer survivor, Jillian Litton, 13, (center) shaved her head in support of all children affected by cancer.
Edie Leal, 8, shaved his head in honor of his little brother, Christopher, a former Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute patient. He shaves his head to let his little brother know it’s OK to be bald.