In April this year, one of our team members in London called to let us know that she had been diagnosed with stage 3, triple negative breast cancer. Those of you that have met Alison will know that she is a particularly upbeat, positive and enthusiastic person. It was a real shock to us but as ever, Alison had a plan to deal with it. She had seen her doctors and was facing a tough run of aggressive chemotherapy. In conversation with the team, we decided that if she lost her hair, we would shave our heads in solidarity with her – and in the process, try to raise some money for cancer charities.
Alison braved her first chemo session on the 2nd May, emailing a photo from the treatment room and commenting on the great view of the London skyline. Positive as ever! Three weeks later, she emailed to say that she “got up this morning, but her hair stayed on the pillow.” This knocked her confidence somewhat but she quickly embraced the headscarf as a fashion statement. For the team, this meant we were on for the head shave and organizing began in earnest. We rounded up a few more volunteers and started to spread the word. We told Alison of our intent and she was really moved. She took some time to think about the right charity to support – there are so many well deserving cancer related charities – and settled on the World Cancer Research Fund.
Logistically, finding a suitable date was a challenge. At one point we were scheduled to do it just before Dana joined the rest of the Renaissance Re Executive Committee at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the bell in celebration of our 20th anniversary. That mohawk would certainly have raised some eyebrows on Wall Street!
“The event itself was a rollercoaster of emotion…but it is also uplifting to see so many people rally around and be so supportive.”
Fate has a way of stepping in for such a good cause and June 27th quickly emerged as a suitable date for the group to convene in London and do the deed. Eric Knopp did a remarkable job of organizing the event and acted as master of ceremonies. He also set up one of the external donation sites, found some willing barbers and liaised with the WCRF folks to have charity t-shirts for the shavees. Our London underwriters were also very supportive. In addition to several of them volunteering for the shave, they did a remarkable job of fund raising at Lloyds.
The event itself was a rollercoaster of emotion. It is very difficult to see a colleague have to go through such a painful and debilitating treatment, but it is also uplifting to see so many people rally around and be so supportive.
Alison spoke to the large group of onlookers. She was blown away by the level of support and was most grateful that the charity might be able to reduce the likelihood of others having to undergo the same difficult treatment. Her sister was also present and she too spoke movingly about how the family appreciated the support that Alison’s colleagues were giving her and the charity.
We don’t have a definitive total of funds raised just yet, but with all internal and external donations and RenRe company matching, we expect to have raised over $50k.
On behalf of the ‘Baldies’, (Dana Cuffe, Gerry de Vere, Eric Knopp, Karl Stanley, Russell Lucas, Garrett McCabe, Minos Demosthenous, Hugh Brennan, Tom Cox, Ed Cruttenden, Jim Mann, Stephen Burr, Dominic Hamnett and Iain Clarke), a very big and heart-felt THANK YOU to all our friends and colleagues at iVision. Your generosity and support is very much appreciated.