7 June, 2022

“I’ve wanted to do it since I was little,” says teenager Kyla Barham about cutting off her beyond-waist-length hair in support of her Nan and Breast Cancer UK.

Kyla’s Nan (her great-grandmother, age 90) was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, with surgery and treatments in the following years. Kyla decided to brave the shave and raise money for Breast Cancer UK through donations via Just Giving. She also donated her hair to be made into a wig for someone who lost their hair through cancer treatment.

Natalie Hayes, Kyla’s mother, takes up the story: “Kyla had talked about shaving her head for years, but I’d brushed it off. Then [my] Nan was diagnosed with breast cancer and was talking about treatments. The doctors mentioned she might lose her hair. Well, Nan didn’t like the sound of that, so I wanted to encourage her and said, jokingly, that if she lost her hair, I would shave mine off, too. Kyla then asked if she could do it too, but I still brushed it off.”

Despite her mother’s hesitation, Kyla was determined to go ahead with the head shave. And one hot summer day in July 2021, she mentioned the question again.

The brave the shave

“My mum was talking about it to her friends, and I asked her if I could do it. And that I could raise money and make a wig out of my hair as well. Because there’s children, other teenagers, and adults who had to get rid of their hair without wanting to, so I thought it would be nice to try and support people.”

Natalie was still hesitant about Kyla shaving her hair: “It was just so long, way past her waist.” She adds that she still thought it was just a phase. But then Kyla saw somebody on TV had shaved their hair, and she still wanted to do it.

“We were in the garden on a really hot day, and Kyla said again that she’d really like to shave her head,” says Natalie. “She was coming up to her 13th birthday, so I said, let’s wait a couple of months and really think about it. I was concerned she might get bullied about it, but she wasn’t really that fussed about her hair. She just wanted it short.”

Why Breast Cancer UK?

Natalie asked Kyla which charity she’d like to support, and Kyla chose Breast Cancer UK because of her Nan.

“I’d heard about this stuff on television and about people who have lost family members and friends, and my Nan was going through it, too, “says Kyla. “So, we decided on 12 July, the day before my birthday. Mum kept on asking if I was really sure. Although she and my Nan were really supportive, and she said it was a nice thing to do.”

Natalie mentions that her Nan still goes out every day: “She climbs her windows and does all the cleaning, and she’s like a walking miracle. Kyla and Nan are really close”. When Kyla said she was shaving her hair and raising money for Breast Cancer UK, my Nan was really touched.”

On the day, Natalie admits she was nervous: “I asked one of my hairdresser friends for advice, and (she) said to tie Kyla’s hair into ponytails and use rubber bands to tie off both ends. Then just sort of start doing it. So, me and my partner Alex did it together. I cut off the ponytails, and Alex shaved the rest of the hair. It wasn’t completely bald. There was like a centimetre or so because we used a number three first, and then we went to a number two. Kyla was just so excited, and actually, it looked great.”

Kyla’s new hair!

Going to school the next day, Kyla was a bit hesitant about her friends’ reactions: “I thought everyone would be negative. But actually, everyone was saying a lot of positive stuff and that it looked great and was such a nice thing to do.”

She adds that her confidence has grown, along with her style and personality: “I used to be quite a shy person and never used to talk in front of people, and now I’m going up in the class and doing performances in front of 60 people and all of that.”

Natalie adds that she’s glad Kyla went ahead with the head shave and the fundraising: “She suddenly looked grown-up, and it suited her. And she was so confident with it. We went out for dinner, and (she) just looked amazing. There was no more bullying in her school – because she’d had some of that before. Now she has all these followers on TikTok. It’s worked out really well, and I’d encourage anyone to do it.”

The last word belongs to Kyla: “I’d say to anyone they could do it because it’s supporting other people. And when you’re older, you can look back on when you shaved your head and realise it’s just a nice thing to do.”

You can do something amazing today to help prevent breast cancer.

Brave the shave and raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

In a few simple steps, you too can Go Bald for Breast Cancer

  • Set up your brave the shave fundraising page here
  • Pick a date for your head shave
  • Ask family, friends, and colleagues to sponsor you
  • Go Bald for Breast Cancer!

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