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46 Mommas Shave for the Brave

By Katy Killilea

Copy of IMG_4796Rebekah Ham has beautiful hair. She’ll be shaving it all off this September with 45 other women equally devoted to children who’ve had cancer. She knows that a big group of women shaving their heads will raise money and awareness, and Bekah also considers it performance art. When 46 women get shaved in unison on say, Ellen or Oprah, it makes a statement.  And that is what Bekah’s group 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave has set out to do. While raising a million dollars.

When Grace Carey, Bekah’s younger daughter, was about to enter kindergarten, she started having powerful, nauseating headaches. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and spent the next year in arduous treatment and recovery. Now that Grace (currently a busy Brownie and first grader at The Paul Cuffee School) is better, Bekah is committed to advocating for a cure. People ask her why–now that she is free to leave it behind–she doesn’t distance herself from the cancer world. Her response: “Children with cancer can’t advocate for themselves. Parents with kids in treatment have to focus on day to day survival. Parents whose children have died are coping with unimaginable grief. And, understandably, parents of survivors often need to run far and fast from the world of cancer for the sake of their families. People who can advocate have to step up.”

Women in the 46 Mommas are from all over the United States. (46 is not a random number–it’s the number of children diagnosed with cancer each school day.) Each of the 46 Mommas is, right now, in the process of raising $22,000 toward the group’s goal of a million dollars. For her part, Bekah asked forty friends to donate $40 each on her recent fortieth birthday. You’ll find her on Hope Street during the Hope for the Earth street festival on April 25th, raffling off the thrill of throwing out the first Paw Sox pitch of the 2010 season. She makes roses out of duck tape (when they’re not sold out, you can find them at Frog and Toad on the East Side) and a friend with a children’s book shop is contributing a portion of her profits to the 46 Mommas. Right up until shave-day in September, she’ll be working toward the $22,000 mark with gusto, creativity, and the attention of friends and strangers. Local businesses who would like to join forces with Bekah are invited to step right up!

Anyone who would like to contribute is welcome to do so, and more information can be found on the 46 Mommas team page,  the group’s facebook page, or on NBC10, in Bekah and Grace’s recent interview with health reporter Barbara Morse Silva.

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The 46 Mommas are working together as part of Saint Baldrick’s huge fundraising effort, which gathers millions of dollars each year to fund research into children’s cancer. Oprah or no Oprah, 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave will be an astounding part of that effort.

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  • All of us at the Children’s Museum are filled with admiration for you, Bekah, and filled with joy that sweet, sunny Grace is well and busy and enjoying her life.

  • Thank you for writing such a wonderful article on our group and honoring the kids so beautifully! Erin, thank you for the tweets and getting the word out! I’ve been posting tweets, myself, in hopes to bring more awareness! Can’t wait to meet all us mom’s in person! I think we are one of the smallest group numbers to try to reach a million dollar goal. Everyone, please watch for your community to fund drive!!!! We may be in it and all the support is truly welcomed! My son’s disease is very rare and certain ones are born with a specific genetic indicator that turns it into AML or MDS after so many years. Each affected child is different. Derek is still in pre-leukemic stages right now, but has been terribly sick this year. Unfortunately, chemo and radiation have no affect on the leukemia so it’s not an option for us. Our only chance for a cure is a Bone Marrow Transplant and even that is a less than 40% chance of survival without a related donor-which we don’t have. Each of these mom’s have been devastated with the horrors of cancer. While caring for Derek over the last almost 11 years (it starts at birth), I have also battled breast cancer twice. My battle began about 6 yrs ago and recently returned in September of ’09. He was too sick at the time so I had to put my own care on hold and finally was able to undergo surgery in Jan of this year. It had begun to spread, but did not reach the lymph node, yet was an extensive surgery and one I’m still healing from months later. So, my hope is to now be healed by June at the latest so I can really kick start some fundraising rather than just sending letters & emails. You can find my page on St. Baldricks 46 Mommas website as Lisa G. Thank you all for your support, the writers/owners for this wonderful article and to all the advocates like Bek out there fighting so hard to help our children find a cure!!! God Bless you all and all our moms!!