NUS MBA 05 August 2016

When Baldness brings bonding

She walks through the busy corridors of Mochtar Riady Building with a renewed exuberance, sometimes to many surprised and curious looks, or other times to words of encouragement and support. There’s a spring in her step due to the lightness – not from a clean-shaven head but from the joy in her heart.

Hair for hope

On July 31, Chua Nan Sze Marie Antonie, our Director of Graduate Studies, joined thousands who queued up for over an hour to shave their heads and become bald, to show her solidarity and support to cancer patients and survivors. Organised by Children’s Cancer Foundation, Hair For Hope is an annual fundraising event – and the only head-shaving event in Singapore – that serves to raise funds and awareness of childhood cancer. Through the symbolic gesture of shaving bald, the event aims to not only create awareness of childhood cancer in Singapore, but also to show cancer patients that it is OK to be bald and build a community to support them and their families.

Hair for Hope NUS Biz

Nan Sze looking at the mirror first time after a full-head shave

This was one of the main reasons Nan Sze embarked on this journey. “I did this primarily in remembrance of my paternal grandparents who had stomach & throat cancer, as well as my most beloved mentor, Mr BV George, who had prostate cancer. While my grandparents passed many years ago (grandma lost her hair also), my mentor passed in late 2014. When he lost his hair, he was rather down but I told him he looked OK. He was grieving about losing his hair, but I told him he still looked good and I meant it. I decided to make good of my word and join this campaign. And since I am shaving my head to show all the cancer patients that it’s really ok to be bald, I might as well raise some money in the process for a good cause.”

But it wasn’t always easy. Her immediate family members, close friends and bosses were not for her going bald when she first declared her intentions. There were many other ways to raise funds or support cancer patients. She persevered regardless. To prepare for a shaven head, she also started a special diet (out of vanity to look good) and inspired others around her when she lost eight kilograms in just over a month. Eventually, many who had discouraged her initially became her advocates and ardent supporters. She surpassed her goal of raising SG$10,000 and has over $11550 (and counting) raised till date.

The surprising outcome is not just the amount of money raised. Nan Sze personified one of the core values of NUS Business School – care – and extended to her team members who have showed her immense support, love and encouragement. Her team stood for hours with her for the final event, members of the School community supported her greatly and donated generously to her cause. It bought the community together to support not just financially, but also morally.

Linda Gouw (in centre), team member in Graduate Studies office was among the many who supported Nan Sze

Linda Gouw (in centre), team member in Graduate Studies office was among the many who supported Nan Sze

Linda Gouw, Manager, Student Life, in the Graduate Studies team has supported Nan Sze by donating for the cause, attending the final shaving event, as well as sharing the updates, photos and videos with her team members as well as interested students through social channels. “I was touched by Nan Sze’s bravery and unwavering spirit to make a ‘bald’ statement in support of cancer patients and victims. Her selflessness has been contagious and has united the graduate studies office as a unified body,” she says.

With a new ‘botak’ head, how does Nan Sze feel now? “I’ve felt pure love and joy in the days leading up to and after the shave, knowing that while I am supporting the cause, many others around me are supporting me. I managed to do more than what I set out to do, and am truly appreciative of all my family & friends, including those in NUS Business School community. I’m grateful that I raised more than my goal, even when I was prepared to fork out the difference.”

Nan Sze is still collecting donations, if you want to donate. Please click on the following link and help spread the word or donate!