Local man's 'Big Head Shave' raises £4,755 for Myeloma UK

Published on: Tuesday, 21st September 2021
Locks being lost by John
John Gibson after the head shave was completed

A local man has raised over £4,500 after leading a charity fundraising event in Long Eaton.

John Gibson set out to raise funds for Myeloma UK on Saturday 18th September with The Big Head Shave: Wear Bear Hair Challenge.

Taking to his JustGiving page, John used boxing references to explain his story.  In May 2019, he was diagnosed with myeloma, acute kidney injury and bone fractures but after treatment including a full stem cell transplant, was given a chance to ring the celebratory bell in November of the same year, adding that he was reassured by supporters including partner Diane, his family, friends and NHS staff.

However, he relapsed in January 2021, almost at the end of another round of treatment but nevertheless pressed ahead with his fundraising efforts.   

(Click 'play' below to hear John in conversation with Paul Stacey in the days before his head-shave.)

The decision to have a head shave challenge came after he lost all of his hair during stem cell treatment. He said: "Symbolically, this head shave reminds me how lucky I am – not a lightweight but a fighter like my dad. I'm still here, able to enjoy life and have fun!"

Myeloma UK provides advice, guidance and specific support to patients & their family, including mental health support.  John said that the support he received has enabled him to stay positive, encouraged & empowered during what he described as "very challenging times". 

Myeloma originates in the bone marrow and currently affects over 24,000 people in the UK.  Despite being the third most common type of blood cancer, myeloma is especially difficult to detect as symptoms, including back pain, easily broken bones, fatigue and recurring infection, are often linked to general ageing or minor conditions.  While it is incurable, myeloma is treatable in the majority of cases. Treatment is aimed at controlling the disease, relieving the complications and symptoms it causes, and extending and improving patients’ quality of life.

More than half of patients face a wait of over five months to receive the right diagnosis and around a third are diagnosed through an emergency route. By that point, many of them are experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms.

By the time John was hospitalised in May 2019, his kidney function had dropped to just 8 per cent.

“The consultant at Royal Derby Hospital didn’t know how I was even conscious,” John added. “I thought I was out for the count, but I squared up to my first chemotherapy and happily went into remission. I have so many supporters in my corner – my fantastic wife Diane, ever positive family members, great friends, supportive neighbours and community, and totally brilliant NHS staff are all rooting for me. It is so reassuring. The sucker punch came in January 2021 when my cancer returned. I have now just finished my second chemotherapy, having done seven rounds of treatment.  We’ll find out how I’ve responded to it at the end of the month.”

After raising £4,755 from his sponsored head shave on 18th September, John said: “People have been incredibly generous and so kind to donate this amount of money in such a short time. I am genuinely overwhelmed. The comments left by family, friends and neighbours on the JustGiving website have been so thoughtful and considerate, and at times, they’ve moved me to tears.

"I am a lucky man indeed to have such caring supporters who’ve got my back and are fighting in my corner.

"To say that the Big Head Shave was a perfect day would be an understatement. It was totally brilliant in every respect.  This event was so successful because of the fantastic support, sheer hard work and superlative effort by all our friends, for which we are so grateful.  The head shave itself was great fun.  I feel lightheaded (literally) and am now known as ‘Shaun’ or ‘Long John Baldy’. 

People tell me it has wiped 20 years off me and that means I’m 39 again.  So I would encourage other people to have a go if that’s what it’s done for me.”

You can visit John's JustGiving page here

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure.  Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails.  Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity.  So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

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