It’s almost wedding season — and while other brides-to-be might have been pinning incredible coifs on Pinterest and booking hours-long visits to the salon to find the perfect ‘do, Corinne Sullivan of Chicago was busy planning her own amazing hairstyle. On March 9, in front of friends and family at a local Irish pub, Sullivan shaved her head. And when you find out why, it will hit you right in the feels.
When Sullivan got engaged to her boyfriend, Tim Lydon, in December 2017, she knew she had to find a way to honor her mother, Colleen Charneski, who died of liver cancer in 2016.
“I shaved my head as a part of St. Baldrick’s, because as a foundation, that is the number one provider of private grants for the best children’s cancer research all over the world,” Sullivan tells Babble. “It is a cause that hits home for my mother’s life. She went back to school late in life with the goal of becoming a nurse for children with cancer, and this meant the world to her. When she finally accomplished this, her time working with these kids was too brief. However, it was incredibly important and moving to her.”
For Sullivan, honoring her mother through a fundraising event was the best possible way to include her in the wedding ceremony, which is set for May 12. After all, Charneski was a woman passionate about helping others.
“Although she passed away from cancer herself,” Sullivan shares, “I think it was watching first-hand kids go through this battle that concerned her the most, and she would have loved the project.”
Sullivan planned the event with St. Baldrick’s Foundation in lieu of a bridal shower. She asked her guests for gifts of donations to the foundation to help her make a bigger impact.
“In this way, she was there for my shower and I got to remember her in the most beautiful way,” she shares with Babble. “What mother would not want to be a part of her daughter’s wedding in a way that makes a difference to a population she spent her life trying to help?”
Going from a full head of healthy locks to a shaved head can be a jarring experience, especially for women. But for Sullivan, her initial shock was tempered by the reactions of her friends and family.
“It was rather surreal to feel the first locks go off, especially since I could not see it,” Sullivan admits. “But I could see the reactions on everyone’s faces. I was unprepared for how moving seeing all the love and support, and other’s emotions would be at that moment.”
Sullivan says she likes the new look and is getting some valuable, if not totally unexpected lessons from her newly shaved head.
“I like the look and have definitely learned a different kind of confidence that comes from walking around bald,” she says. “People approach me more now.”
Sullivan also points out: “That’s the difference between St. Baldrick’s and other cancer fundraisers too — the conversation and fundraising don’t stop after one event. I am a walking conversation piece that gets the dialogue going.”
Sullivan says that, for her, the newfound confidence she feels from the act of shaving her head in order to help others has been incredibly rewarding.
Talk about an incredibly brave and loving gesture. Best of luck to the lovely couple!