Audrey Tay was at the Cancer Genetics Lab and she had just handed over a cheque for lung cancer research for over $4,500. She had run a 'shave to save' campaign culminating by shaving her hair off on her 20th birthday.
These are her responses to our questions.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am in my final year of studying a BSc majoring in Human Nutrition. I'm a fun-loving sort of gal, with a real passion for being an agent of change.
Where did this idea come from?
Well I've always wondered what it would be like to shave my head. I initially said that I would shave as part of a college-wide fundraiser (I work at Hayward College), but then I thought I would just go the extra mile and do it solo.
How did people react when you first let them know your plans?
My mother was the hardest to convince, but I remained resilient and she supported me all the way. My friends were quite excited and everyone was very supportive both emotionally and financially.
Have you done anything similar before?
I have been involved in plenty of fundraisers in the past, but nothing that put me so much in the spotlight.
Why did you choose cancer research?
Cancer is something that everyone is affected by. Everyone knows someone who has been a cancer patient. I chose cancer research because to me, that's a way of tackling the problem at its roots.
Why did you choose future patients?
Something that appealed to me about CTCR was that they worked to improve the treatment methods of patients. This really appealed to me because it's actively seeking ways of making change for the future.
Why did you choose to use your birthday?
It's the best way to get money! Apparently it's more selfless too (or so I've been told). Instead of asking for presents, I got plenty of money. I somehow also managed to score some beanies though, so that was a bonus.
How have you found the experience of fundraising this way?
I found it very exciting checking the online fundraising page every day to see that someone new had donated. The generosity I experienced was just so mindblowing!
What was the toughest thing?
The toughest thing was definitely keeping my nerves at bay leading up to the big shave, especially the last hour having hair. Other than that, it was pretty tough to find different groups of people to dig deep into their pockets.
What was the most fun?
Definitely watching everyone's face when my pony tail was cut off. I wish I had a camera to capture that!
What was the most surprising thing?
The final amount I raised. My initial goal was $2000, because I knew people who raised similar amounts and thought that was a reasonable goal. No way was I expecting $4500!
What did you want this project to achieve?
I definitely wanted to raise awareness and raise money while I was at it. I think some people often forget that research facilities exist, and donate a lot of their money to large organisations like CanTeen and the Cancer Society (which is perfectly honorable). But I wanted to spread awareness that there are other organisations that would greatly profit from donations, such as CTCR. I also aimed to be an inspiration to other students like myself, to take that time away from the books and strive to do something great for others.
Would you do it again? Do you have advice for others?
I probably wouldn't shave my head again, no. It's slowly creeping back and I'm getting quite possessive of what I've got so far. But I would definitely keep fundraising and encourage others to do the same. My advice would probably be to find something that you're passionate about and stick it out over the long haul!