Wikwemikong girl sheds hair for cancer awareness

WIKWEMIKONG—Six-year-old Natalia Pitawanakwat was all smiles as she approached the seat of honour before an assembly of her peers late last month at the Wasse Abin Junior School in Wikwemikong.

The little girl with the broad smile and the below-the-waist-length sandy brown hair was about to do something very brave—cut off all of her locks in front of the entire school.

Her mother, Jodi Fox, explained to the children that Natalia’s family has been touched by cancer in many ways, including the loss of her great uncle, her great grandpa, or “chi poppa,” to the disease and a great aunt that is battling colon cancer at this very moment.

Natalia made up her mind one year ago that this is what she wanted to do—cut her hair to support others who are going through cancer and, through treatments like chemotherapy, have lost their hair and wish to use a wig. A little research, and the family chose Angel Hair for Kids—a foundation that provides wigs and hair loss solutions to financially disadvantaged children in Canada who have lost their hair due to a medical condition or treatment, its website states. “Using hair that is generously donated to the program, the foundation can create wigs and hair systems and provide them at no cost to the child’s family. It takes 10-12 donated ponytails to make one hair prosthesis and $800 to $1,000 is budgeted by the foundation to cover manufacturing and related costs.”

It was finally time, and with Natalia seated on the stool and with scissors in hand, Ms. Fox began to cut with thunderous cheers from the children calling “Cut it! Cut it!”

After a minute or so of vigorous scissoring with plenty of encouragement from the staff and students, the ponytail was free. Ms. Fox waved it enthusiastically at the crowd and Natalia grinned, reaching out to touch her hair.

The event was an emotional one for Ms. Fox and Natalia’s grandmother, both of them shedding tears following the cut.

Ms. Fox said Natalia has been wanting to cut her hair for over a year.

“My mom just talked to me about it and I just decided to do it,” Natalia told The Expositor in a post haircut interview.

She said she likes the idea that another little kid can use her hair.

“It feels all smooth!” she laughed, shaking what was left of her hair.

Natalia recalled her chi poppa. “He always used to tickle me and make me laugh,” she said. Chi poppa, Paul Fox, passed away on August 2, 2011 of colon cancer.

The morning of the haircut, the family began to fundraise and had already raised $650 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Those looking to help Natalia’s fundraising cause can do so by emailing Ms. Fox at jodifox@hotmail.com or by searching the Canadian Cancer Society website for Natalia and making a donation online.

For a video of the special cut, please visit The Expositor’s website at www.manitoulin.ca.

Alicia McCutcheon