Wig ( Thursday )

Gisborne Herald

After finishing nearly three years of cancer treatment, Gisborne student Lucas Sigvertsen wants to celebrate being back with his friends at Awapuni School.

What better way than to watch mum Maree Donaldson and his teachers shave their heads for the Child Cancer Foundation's Wig Wednesday . . . on Thursday.

The event was moved because the school was hosting the inter-school cross-country on Wednesday. However, that has since been cancelled due to Covid-19 level restrictions.

The school decided to stick with Thursday as its Wig Wednesday.

Awapuni will be among the thousands of Kiwis across the country — schools, companies, and community groups — to wear a wig, shave heads or style a funky hair-do to raise money for the Child Cancer Foundation.

More than $100,000 was raised from the event last year to help the foundation in its vital role helping people like Lucas.

In late 2017 the muscles on the right side of Lucas's face began to droop but as it wasn't a typical symptom of lymphoma, doctors thought he might just have a sinus infection – or even Bell's palsy.

Following a month of trips back and forth from their home in Gisborne to Auckland's Starship Hospital, including a full-body MRI scan and kidney biopsy in early January, the family were stunned to find out Lucas had acute T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma.

The six-year-old got his first dose of chemotherapy the next day.

Throughout the two-and-a-half years of Lucas's treatment, he and Maree often had to stay at Starship for weeks at a time, meaning his three siblings were looked after by Maree's parents back in Gisborne.

The local community also banded together to help the family, providing a lot of support to the kids while Lucas and Maree were away.

It was tough having to miss out on a lot of milestones while she and Lucas were in Auckland, but Maree says it showed their resilience as a family.

Now Lucas has reached the end of his treatment and is back to his energetic self, the family can finally get much-welcomed normality back in their lives.

Not surprisingly, they have been looking for a chance to properly commemorate the turning point.

“We really wanted to celebrate Lucas finishing treatment in a positive way with the whole community. Wig Wednesday came along at the perfect time,” says Maree.

On Thursday, Awapuni School, is going all-out.

kids can style their hair in weird, wacky and wonderful ways.

Lucas's class will be making hats and wigs out of recycled materials to wear on the day.

The highlight is sure to be a full school assembly (socially-distanced, of course), at which Maree's hair will be shaved by one of the teachers.

To make things even more exciting, for every $500 raised on their everydayhero fundraising page, a teacher will also have to shave their head.

So far three teachers are already lined up for the clippers but Maree and Lucas want to see as many as possible join the fun.

For Maree, their Wig Wednesday plans are not just about celebrating Lucas's milestone but also being able to give back to an organisation that has stood beside them throughout their experience with child cancer.

“Our family support coordinator came to see us in Starship when Lucas was first diagnosed and came back every week with coffee and muffins for a chat,” says Maree,

“They were always there for us as a great adult ear to talk to who wasn't a medical person.”

As for the head shave, Maree doesn't take getting rid of her hair lightly.

“I've had long hair my whole life so this is a pretty big deal for me.

“I really want to make it a success and to be able to say thank you to an organisation that has helped my family immensely over the last three years.”