Sharing the mission of St. Baldrick’s Foundation


Susan M. Blaney, MD

Desperate times and circumstances have an inconsiderate way of forcing one to evaluate their actions, both past and future. During graduate school, one of my classmates and I committed ourselves to raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation by participating in Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Science Center’s annual “Geaux Bald” fundraising event. Additionally, we would shave our heads as an outward sign that we participated in the event. 

The purpose of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and its sponsored fundraising events is to raise money specifically for pediatric cancer research. The funds raised are then distributed among clinicians and researchers around the globe to fund both basic sciences and clinical research. This amazing organization raised over $40 million last year, with more than 70 percent of the funds appropriated exclusively to fund research. 

This initial commitment, for me, was more about being excused from class for a few hours to have a good time with other members of the university than it was about partnering with the largest non-government funder of pediatric cancer research. Upon acceptance into the Surgical Physician Assistant Fellowship program at Texas Children’s, I was encouraged to be thoughtful and commit to doing something outside of the program that would make a difference in the life of a child, or a group of children and their families. During my first clinical assignment I had the pleasure of interacting with the first, and definitely not the last, precious child who is bravely battling the monster called cancer. Time and this current circumstance began forcing me to reconsider my motives. 

My mind immediately reverted back to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the potential for them to help me to make that difference. I searched their website and found a local event. I decided instead of creating a new team, I would join an existing one. I carefully read over the team profiles and decided to join a team that honored a precious angel who endured an extensive treatment regimen prior to earning their celestial wings. Reading over this team's St. Baldrick’s profile page and seeing the honored angel's smiling face in pictures, I was convinced that committing myself to raising money in support of the organization that contributes funds to the very medical researchers who most certainly helped to treat them would allow me to carry the torch of preserving their memory by allowing the continuation of the research that will one day defeat the monster that they so valiantly fought. Shaving my head has stimulated an abundance of conversation continues to allow me to share the mission of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and, more importantly, to share a glimpse into this angel's story.  

I am proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of a team that raised over $14,000 in support of pediatric cancer research. It is my hope that I can continue to preserve this angle’s memory by participating again next year. To this precious soul, I hope that this simple gesture fuels the smiles that you shine down from heaven onto those who love you. To those who supported me and my fellow team members in this endeavor, thank you. If you would like more information on the St. Baldrick's Foundation or on how to join or create a team, please visit their website at www.stbaldricks.org for additional details.