Wednesday night of the week, we joined her for a survivor walk between the Man and the Temple. On reaching the Temple, she cut one of her braids and left it there to flame up and disappear along with the temple on the final night of the week.
The next morning, Gail shaved Noah's head.
He'd been talking about doing it for a while. Well, full disclosure, I'd been trying to talk him into it for a while, but I suppose he needed a real reason, something that gave him the courage to let go and go bald. And if you ever have the great luck to meet Gail, you'll understand why. She is loving, strong and, well, just wonderful.
Friday, she and Stephanie, a longtime friend of Gail's and also an amazing woman, left Burning Man early so they could spend some time together. Their presence was sorely missed. It felt somewhat like we'd lost our grounding. Not that you need to be grounded for Burning Man, in fact it may well be better to unhinge, but the nature of the experience changed with their departure.
When they arrived back in San Francisco, Gail and Stephanie shaved their heads together. Stephanie posted photos of her newly-shorn, newly dyed pink head on Facebook along with a beautiful, poignant and succinct answer to why she chose this way to show her love and solidarity with Gail.Stephanie Says:
Gail lives in Berkeley, I used to nanny her
daughter back in 98-99 and 2004. We had a chat one night about how
losing her hair was going to be hard. I got off the phone and knew that
this was a
way to support her if she chose to shave her hair off before going to
When she announced that she wanted to do it, I offered to do it
with her and do it as a ritual.... On Sunday, we did the hair ritual as the temple was
burning. We braided our hair together in two pieces, blonde and black
and did the chop together.
Her daughter who is now 15 cut the other half of our hair off. The other thing I'm doing is helping to manage her support calendar for meals and rides. It's really all I can do from a distance.
It just happens that my writing of this post coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The following are resources for information on prevention, treatment and support.
- Susan G Komen for the Cure - A global leader in the breast cancer movement since 1982. Includes Passionately Pink, an online resource for joining and building support teams wherever you are.
- Sharsheret - A national non-for-profit organization of cancer survivors dedicated to addressing the unique challenges facing young Jewish women living with breast cancer. Founded by Rochelle Shoretz, an old college friend of mine.
- Movember - A mustache growing charity event that raises funds and awareness of men's health. Another Burning Man camp mate of ours is shaving his beard, leaving the mustache for this. Perhaps he'll let me post his photos.
Also, check out my article on Matador called Share Your Stories and Resources for Breast Cancer Awareness Month written in conjunction with this post.
Please feel free to add your own resources and information. Or share your personal stories of friends, family, and whatever else you may have done to combat cancer.