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Real Life

REAL LIFE: "My twelve-year-old shaved her head to raise money for cancer!"

When Bec's hubby was diagnosed with cancer, her kids found a special way to make him proud.

By As told to Take 5

Bec Hill, 44, Melbourne, Vic shares her story:

I sipped my cocktail and gazed out to sea.
It was my 40th birthday, and my mother-in-law, Mia, had surprised me with 
a three-day cruise to Kangaroo Island.
It was a lovely present, 
but I was slightly nervous about leaving my husband, Warrick, with our three kids, Jesse, 15, Tahlia, 13, and Tanisha, eight.
Warrick had been sick 
all week and I felt awful sailing off while he had to care for our children at home alone.
But after going to the doctor, he was insistent.
"It's just a virus," he told me. "Go have fun!"
But on the second day 
of my cruise, Jesse called.
"Dad's sick," he said. "He picked us up from school but he can hardly drive. He's sleeping all the time."
Worried, I called Warrick's best friend, Ele, begging her to take him to hospital.
The moment the cruise ship docked at Port Melbourne, I jumped in a taxi to be by his side, with Mia following soon after in the car.
Me and my mother-in-law on the cruise. Image: Take 5
When I finally got there, the doctors delivered terrible news.
"I'm sorry," the doc began, "your husband has leukaemia."
I was in shock.
I'd had a few friends with cancer and all of them had pulled through. I was sure Warrick would do the same.
I stayed by his bedside, tenderly stroking his hand while he slept.
But 24 hours later, Warwick went into renal failure.
The head of ICU pulled me aside. "You should prepare for the worst," he said solemnly.
I burst into tears.
That night, I went home 
to tell the kids with Warrick's parents there for support.
"Daddy's sick and his body is shutting down," I said softly, wrapping them all 
in a hug as they sobbed into my chest.
At 5am the next day, I woke to a phone call from a nurse at the hospital.
"You need to come here now," she said.
In a daze, I told the kids and asked them to get dressed and pile into the 
car so we could say our goodbyes.
Tanisha and her dad, Warrick. Image: Take 5
Tearfully, we all took turns telling Warrick how much 
he meant to us and how much we loved him before he passed away a couple of hours later.
I couldn't believe it, he was only 44. We'd been together for 18 years.
Only a week ago he'd been sick with what we thought was a virus. We had no idea cancer had been lurking in him for months. Now, he 
was gone.
I didn't know what to do. 
I knew I had to be strong for the kids but without Warrick, I felt lost.
Thankfully, in our grief, family and friends stepped up to help.
Life moved on but Warrick was never far from my mind.
My kids, Tanisha, Tahlia and Jesse. Image: Take 5
Two years later, I reconnected with an old school mate on Facebook. His name was Michael and we'd first met in the fifth grade. We caught up for a quick coffee but ended up chatting in the cafe for hours.
He was so kind and supportive about everything the kids and I had been through, and we started dating not long after.
We married two years later.
One day, we went along to watch my friend shave her head for the Leukaemia foundation.
We'd always supported the cause, and both Jesse and Warwick had shaved their heads to raise money before, but now, it had even more meaning to us.
I'm so proud of Tanisha for raising awareness. Image: Take 5
As the crowd cheered, I looked down at Tanisha, 12, as she stared 
in awe.
"Mum, I want to do that," she said.
"It's too late to do it this year, mate" I replied, "but next year, if you're still keen, you can."
At her age, I thought she might change her mind, but a year later she was as adamant as ever. She signed up for the shave and decided to share her story online.
Soon, I received a call from the organisers at The World's Greatest Shave, who asked if Tanisha would like to be a figurehead of the charity.
She was so ecstatic to 
share her story and raise awareness.
"You're making your dad so proud," I told her.

Tanisha Baker, 12, Melbourne, Vic says:

A huge smile spread across my face as I heard the razor near my head.
After seeing a family friend shave their head in Dad's honour, I knew it was the right thing for me to do.
When he died, I was heartbroken.
Once a week, Dad would take me out for frozen yoghurt before we headed to the local oval, lay down in the cool grass and listened to Coldplay.
"Look at the stars," he'd sing along, "look how they shine for you."
Dad was so energetic and funny. We were best friends.
When I signed up to shave my head, The Leukaemia Foundation wanted to share my story to raise awareness.
I was happy to help and went on TV to talk about it.
Tanisha after the shave! Image: Take 5
As the day approached, I was so excited.
Mum helped to organise the shave at a local cafe with other participants. But a week before, we had to cancel it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I still want to shave my head," I told Mum.
We decided to set up a live stream on Facebook so 
it could go ahead with friends watching on.
My family took turns shaving my long hair as my stepdad Michael read out encouraging comments from the community.
You're an inspiration, Tanisha, one had written.
After 25 minutes, my hair was all over the floor and my head was basically bald!
Next day, I found out that I'd raised just under $3500, which was a great feeling.
My dad was an incredible person and I'm so happy I did something he'd be proud of. Hair can grow back but Dad can never be replaced.
If I can help prevent just one family going through what we have, it would all 
be worth it.

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