A close shave – hair today, gone for a good cause

The buzz of an electric shaver accompanied by the sound of applause and peals of laughter filled the Congregational Centre of the Good Samaritan Sisters in Glebe on March 6 when the courage of three brave women was put to the test for the World’s Greatest Shave. Joanna (Jo) Mead, Bernadette Beinke and Krishna Vallabhaneni are raising funds for research into improved treatments and cures for all types of blood-related cancers.

‘Palm court trio’ (from left): Sister Margaret Ann Kelly, Helen Isbister and Jo Mead.

Their efforts are being supported by family, friends and colleagues who cheered loudly as the women’s tresses fell to the floor under the skillful hands of barber Stephen Colletta. The musical talents of a ‘palm court trio’ provided entertainment with Jo and Sister Margaret Ann Kelly strumming the ukulele and Helen Isbister playing the violin.

The money raised will support cancer patients with free accommodation near hospital when they are having treatments and assist with transport to and from appointments as well as providing important emotional support for patients and their families.   

In the Congregational Centre, Bernadette Beinke is Executive Assistant to the Members of the Council, Joanna Mead is the Archives and Records Manager and Krishna Vallabhaneni is the Financial Accountant.

Bernadette’s youngest son, Dominic, lends a hand.

This year marked a milestone for Bernadette’s family. “In May 1985, I donated bone marrow to my sister Rosemary who at that time had been battling chronic myeloid leukaemia for almost four years. Although I wasn’t a perfect match, it was Rose’s last chance. All other avenues had been exhausted and we were told she would be lucky to survive the transplant,” Bernadette said. “But we had amazing family support and a fantastic medical team, for which we are forever grateful.

“Thirty-five years later, Rose is now 76 years old. She has been able to see her children grow up and is a proud grandma of seven. I couldn’t let this milestone pass without celebrating her amazing achievement.”

Jo Mead is a veteran of the World’s Greatest Shave. “This is my third time, although my last one was about 10 years ago,” she said. “I think I was more nervous about playing the ukulele and singing in front of people than the shave!”

Krishna, Bernadette and Jo have set up a combined fundraising page.

Cancer has touched Krishna Vallabhaneni’s family. “My mother-in-law was diagnosed with throat cancer and I have seen her suffering – the hair loss and the pain,” she said. “I have long hair and I decided to have it cut to help people who need support. In India, it is a tradition to have a haircut or to shave our heads when we visit the temples.”

Every day, 35 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer. That’s one person every 41 minutes. Although research is improving survival, sadly an Australian loses their life to blood cancer every two hours. Donations to the World’s Greatest Shave will give people facing blood cancer the emotional and practical support they need and fund vital research to help more people survive blood cancers, while improving their quality of life.

If you would like to make a donation via the combined fundraising page for Bernadette, Jo and Krishna, click here.