Cancer survivor chooses hair shave on own terms

MARTIN DE RUYTER/stuff

Nelson College for Girls students Rhiannon Griffiths, Sam Capill and Ivy Tu'ua-Jeffries get their heads shaved as a fundraiser for Canteen.

The last time Sam Capill lost her hair, she was 11 years old and it fell out because she was having chemotherapy.

More than six years on, Capill is once again without her long locks, but it is on her terms. The Nelson College for Girls student decided to shave her head to raise money for Canteen. 

Sitting between her friends Rhiannon Griffiths and Ivy Tu'ua Jeffries during a lunch break, Capill had her plaits cut off and her head shaved amid clapping and cheering from the crowd that had gathered to watch.

Nelson College for Girls students Sam Capill, left, Ivy Tu'ua-Jeffries and Rhiannon Griffiths before they had their ...
MARTIN DE RUYTER

Nelson College for Girls students Sam Capill, left, Ivy Tu'ua-Jeffries and Rhiannon Griffiths before they had their heads shaved for Canteen.

"It was more the choice that I could shave it off, instead of not having the choice, it was kind of like moving forward, as I leave school."

READ MORE: * Nelson teen raising funds to give back to Canteen

Before the shave, Capill said the thought of losing her hair again was "a bit daunting". 

Nelson College for Girls students Rhiannon Griffiths, left, Tu'ua-Jeffries and Sam Capill after the close shave.
MARTIN DE RUYTER

Nelson College for Girls students Rhiannon Griffiths, left, Tu'ua-Jeffries and Sam Capill after the close shave.

Capill said she was "a bit tearful" as her plaits were cut off, as it brought back difficult memories.

"When I was 11 I got diagnosed with leukaemia and it was a tough treatment, I didn't really have a choice of keeping my hair so that was the purpose of the head shave."

A sore stomach and swollen neck led to her cancer diagnosis in February 2011 where she was told she had 24 hours to live.

Capill spent a year and a half at Auckland's Starship hospital and four years after her diagnosis, was able to return to school. 

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She had been growing her hair since her chemotherapy treatment and started planning for the event almost a year ago. 

Tu'ua Jeffries and Griffiths made the decision to join Capill in support by shaving their heads and donating their hair. The trio set a target to raise $3000 and at last count, had received $3061 in donations. 

The girls' hair will be donated to Freedom Wigs in Dunedin. In order to be accepted for donation, it needed to be undyed and to be 35 centimetres or longer.

Principal Cathy Ewing said Capill was very brave and had spoken at the school assembly earlier in the day about her experience with cancer and why she had decided to do the shave. 

"I don't think there was a dry eye in the house, it was just phenomenal."

 - Stuff

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