Before and after photos of Abby at the 2019 St. Baldrick's event in Greenville.

Childhood Cancer Inspires Misty and Abby to Give Back

Mar 12 2020

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, which means the return of the annual St. Baldrick’s event in Greenville, SC. It is a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that provides funding for childhood cancer. In fact, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System received more than $59,000 in funding from this organization last year to help support adolescent and young adult cancer patients.

Each year, thousands show up to St. Baldrick’s events across the nation to show their support. People also shave their heads to help raise awareness and money for the cause. Misty Persson, a certified pharmacy technician at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, first attended the Greenville St. Baldrick’s event in 2018. She says it was quite a moving experience.

“My cousin was shaving her head to raise money. As I listened to the children who were affected by cancer speak and watched parents whose children were no longer with them speak, I was so moved,” Misty recalls.

“Not only was I moved as a parent, but I looked over and my daughter, who was 12 at the time, had tears silently falling down her face.”

Misty says the event was also eye-opening, as they learned about how infrequently new drugs were approved to specifically treat childhood cancer. They also learned about the lack of funding for childhood cancer research, a fact that Misty calls “astonishing” due to how big of a problem cancer is in our country.

“I don’t think there is anyone alive who has not in some way been touched by cancer…” she says. “It really hits home when someone you love is going through so much and there is only so much research out there and drugs they can use.”

Before leaving the event, Misty’s daughter, Abby, made a huge decision – to shave her head at the 2019 event.

“I was shocked, because she is in middle school, and not many middle school girls are willing to face their peers with a shaved head,” she says.

However, Misty’s family has been directly impacted by the disease. In fact, one of her childhood friends has a 4-year-old son who was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer. Thus, Misty proudly backed Abby, who decided to participate in the head-shaving event in the 4-year-old’s honor.

“I don’t think I stopped crying from the time the event began until after we got home,” remembers Misty.

Not only did Abby follow through with her decision to shave her head (see before and after photos above), but she raised more than $300 in the process. Misty shares her daughter also got an overwhelmingly positive response from her peers and teachers when she returned to school the following Monday.

“When a cause moves a teenage girl to shave her head, you know it must be important,” she says. “I encourage everyone who can to come and be a part of the shave event or just come and be a support person for those shaving, because you will forever be changed.”

This year’s St. Baldrick’s event in Greenville is being held this Sunday, March 15 at the Cancer Survivors Park from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn more about the health care services offered at Bon Secours.

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