Houston Preteens Return To School Bald, Honoring Childhood Cancer Research

Two Houston boys are returning to school a little cleaner cut than usual. Carson Hesse, 12, and his friend Topher Mohr have shaved their hair in an effort to get the conversation going about childhood cancers.

“People are going to see me and ask why I don’t have any hair and I’m going to tell them what I’m doing and why I’m doing it,” Mohr says.

September is childhood cancer awareness month, and there are a variety of initiatives throughout North America that are taking place in order to raise awareness. Houston is no exception; in fact, Hesse and Mohr were inspired to raise awareness because of Hesse’s own struggle with neuroblastoma. Because he had the disease, he now wants to recruit his friends to help raise awareness and funds to benefit St. Baldrick’s, one of the largest funders of non-government grants worldwide.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer which begins in the embryonic cells responsible for developing into parts of our nervous system. The cells are called neuroblasts. Should a tumor arise from these sorts of cells, it’s called a neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is responsible for eight to 10 percent of all childhood cancers, according to the James Fund, and generally develops in children under five years of age. Chemotherapy may be used as part of a treatment plan if the tumor cannot be removed safely; the chemotherapy would therefore then shrink the tumor in order that it might be safely removed.

It is the hope of these Houston boys to continue to raise awareness and show solidarity with other kids who might be dealing with any sort of childhood cancer. Certainly, research has come a long way over the last quarter century; in 1975, children had a 50 percent chance of surviving a childhood cancer for five years. Now, according to 2004-2010 statistics from the National Cancer Institute, that statistic has risen to 80 percent survivability over the course of five years.

Hesse hopes that shaving his head will help get the conversation going about childhood cancer in his Houston neighborhood and his Houston school. His family understands why this initiative is so important to the Houston lad.

“Since I didn’t have to go through chemo like other kids have to I’m going to shave my heads for them,” Hesse says.

Hesse also wants to encourage those who live beyond Houston’s borders to think about taking on his head-shaving challenge.

“Think about other people and help them and help people in need,” he says.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has given $5.8 million to Houston-area facilities, including MD Anderson, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Baylor.

(Photo courtesy of curesarcoma.org)