Co-workers of Sandra Walsh are showing their support for her as she battles cancer by having their heads shaved in public and calling themselves the “Bald Girls.”
Walsh, 51, is a CCA worker who has been employed at The Mira for more than 10 years.
“I worked with Sandra for five years,” said Melony Billard. “She is well-liked by staff and residents. She has a good sense of humour and is a hard worker.”
Last fall Walsh noticed a mass beneath her left tear duct and sought medical attention. She was told she had a blocked tear duct and placed on a waiting list for treatment. The mass was painful and was draining and obstructing her vision so she was relieved to hear, just before Christmas, that she had made it to the top of the waiting list.
“She went in for the surgery and thought that would be the end of the annoyance that she had encountered for the past few months,’ said Billard. “The mass almost instantly filled up and as soon as she was discharged from the hospital they had to re-admit her and drain this 'blocked tear duct’ again. To cover all bases, they thought they had better get a biopsy this time.”
Walsh told only a few people what was going on and carried on at work. Even after hearing the biopsy showed cancer she continued working until she went off work for emergency surgery.
Her left eye was positive for cancer and could not be saved. Her nasal bone was also cancerous and removed. Bone from her forehead was used for reconstruction of the nasal bone and tissue was removed from her leg for skin grafts.
“The only thing preventing the cancer from advancing to her brain was her frontal bone,” said Billard. “She has undergone this very extensive surgery-18 hours worth. She has spent days in the ICU with a tracheotomy. She is now home and recovering with the support of her family and co-workers. She is unable to work for obvious reasons. She will be off for approximately one year and will be undergoing radiation treatments.”
When a co-worker suggested having their heads shaved Billard was happy to take part. She had shaved her head a few months ago in support of a friend with breast cancer.
“It’s a small sacrifice, especially for what they have to go through,” she said. “This will be the third time Marjorie, who suggested doing this, has had her head shaved, but it will be the first time for a couple of co-workers. There is also an 87-year-old resident who heard about what we’re doing and decided to have her head shaved too.”
The head shaving will take place at The Mira at 2:30 pm on Monday. Each person who has donated at least $5 has their name entered in a draw to be the head shaver. Donations will continue to be accepted at The Mira following the event.
Those having their heads shaved are calling themselves ‘ the bald girls' and have made hats and t-shirts to wear for the occasion.