First in Print: Donaldsonville Coach, Gonzales resident shaves head in support of cancer patients

Allison B. Hudson

When close relatives and friends become diagnosed with cancer and begin fighting a new battle, its affects everyone close to them.

Donaldsonville High School Math teacher and Coach Barry Whittington Jr. decided to shave his head for those who have lost the struggle with cancer, and those close to him who are still fighting complications due to cancer.

“I was reminiscing about my cousin who lost his life three years ago due to brain cancer, and my god mother ten years ago with colon cancer, and thought there has to be something I can do to support others who may be going through this struggle with cancer,” he said.

On last Sunday evening, Barry decided to shave his head bald in support of cancer patients who are fighting to survive.

“I know it will not make the cancer go away, but I hope it will show my support,” he added.

According to the American Cancer Society, anyone can develop cancer. About 78 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in persons 55 years and older, but is not limited to those under the age of 55. All cancers involve the malfunction of genes that control cell growth and division. About five percent of all cancers are strongly hereditary, in that an inherited genetic alteration confers a very high risk of developing one or more specific type of cancer. However, most cancers do not result from inherited genes but from damage to genes occurring during one’s lifetime.

There were about 1,529,560 new cancer cases in 2010. Of those numbers, approximately 10,700 cases were among children aged zero to 14 in 2010.

After shaving his head, he knew people would look at him differently because of his new physical appearance, but he was not worried what others would say.

“People asked if I felt different afterwards, but I felt great, I felt I was doing the right thing, so it didn’t bother me,” he said. “It seemed minimal to change my appearance when those who have lost the fight to cancer, or those fighting are often forced to change their appearance due to chemotherapy or side effects of certain types of cancer.”