In a lot of ways Ellie is an ordinary 14 year old. She goes to school, has far too many friends on facebook and fusses a lot about her hair. Whether to have it straight, curly or what colour to dye it next. It takes a lot of care and attention to get hair this good. But she’s decided to get her hair cut.
Not just a trim of the ends. Or even long layers. Ellie is getting the haircut to end all haircuts.
So why on earth would she have it cut off this week? And I mean ALL. CUT. OFF.
Well, she’s doing it because she has the biggest heart around and is dealing with a difficult situation in the only way she knows how – by doing something amazing, keeping a promise to her mum and helping others all at the same time. She is a total inspiration and when I heard about her story I knew I wanted to do something special for her. So we’ve got together and arranged a couple of portrait sessions to capture her hair as it is now and then again in a few weeks to celebrate the new, short, short, sleek cut. She’s not just gorgeous and generous and kind, she’s pretty good with words too. So I’ll let her tell her story.
“On the 23rd of February I am getting my hair cut off to support Cancer Research UK! I know people may think it’s only a little thing as lots of people have shorter styled hair, but I would never dream of getting it cut if it didn’t affect so many people so close to home. I have had long hair the whole of my life, and I’m showing support by giving up something I fuss over for hours on end and which means a lot to me.
My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in early December, and people really can’t imagine how hard cancer is to deal with till it affects your own family. She had a tumour removed in January and had a second operation on the 26th Jan. We have just found out that she has to have chemotherapy, which will make her lose her own long hair. After that she has radiotherapy, then Herceptin for a year and hormone therapy for five years. I had said even before we knew if she did have to have chemo that I would cut my hair for her if she had to lose hers, and this is me going through with my promise.
This isn’t just about breast cancer and my family’s story; it’s about all sorts of cancer. Even just the words ‘Cancer’ can make you feel ill. It’s about raising awareness to people that even if you can’t give them medical help like the doctors can, that just supporting them means more than the world to them. It’s about everyone sticking together when times are hard.
I’m hoping that people will find it in their heart to donate money and sponsor me when I cut my hair to help support those families and individuals out there, and not only just pay for them to have the life-saving treatments cancer patients need, but to pay for them to get a few hours of normality just having people there for them to talk to. I’m also donating my hair to a charity called The Little Princess Trust, which is a charity that collects donations of long hair and makes wigs for children who have lost their hair because of chemo or other reasons. Mum is also sending her own hair to Little Princesses, seeing as she can’t keep it on her head!”
Heartbreakingly eloquent, right? I think she is amazing. Because so few people have hair this good and this long, it’s in such great demand for real-hair wigs. When Ellie’s Mum was first diagnosed, they got on the internet to find out everything they could about what they faced as a family. They found out about a brilliant charity called The Little Princess Trust, who help children suffering hair loss due to cancer treatment. So when she decided to cut her hair off for charity, she knew exactly where she would be sending her long locks.
We shot this session on Saturday, with the help of Ellie’s friends Catherine and Gaby, so I wanted to blog the images before the hair cut this week to inspire as many people as possible to support Ellie and the charity she is raising money for. You can do that by visiting her JustGiving page here and donate online to help the incredible work of Cancer Research UK.
Ellie started small with a modest goal of a couple of hundred quid. But she had to revise that and pretty quickly. Because as soon as people heard about what she was up to, they wanted to support her little bit of madness. So far she has raised over £3,500! It’s amazing, but I know that she would love to raise so much more for families all over the UK battling and surviving cancer. So have a look what we captured during this very special session. You’ll hear a little more from Ellie at the very end.
Can you believe it? Remember being 14, the stresses of school and the hassle of getting yourself looking right before you wandered past the school gates? During the session, with her gorgeous hair whipping about, I couldn’t really believe what she was giving up. But she dreamt up this scheme by herself and because of it we can all look forward to a future where the work of Cancer Research UK will help someone you know, a family member, a friend. It could even be helping you.
Here’s Ellie again, with a last little push for your support.
“My mum wanted to add that you should make sure your female relatives of all ages check their breasts for anything unusual, not just lumps, and go to their GP if they spot anything. If they’re over 50 they will also receive a letter inviting them for a mammogram – don’t let them just chuck the letter in the bin but book the appointment and get checked. 46,000 women a year are diagnosed with this disease, and the earlier it’s identified, the more treatable it is.
If you have taken the time to read this then thank you so much, and if you are choosing to donate and sponsor then I and all the other families out there thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Thank you very much, and a massive good luck to anyone out there battling cancer too.”
If you would like to sponsor Ellie’s hair cut, remember that you can do that easily online by visiting her JustGiving page here.
To beautiful Ellie, you wonderful nutter, here’s to a fabulous, head-turning hair cut. You are going to look amazing! I know how worried you are about it and you’re planning to hide away a little to get used to it. But believe me, you will be even more stunning. I can’t wait to photograph the new, even more incredible you.