Diane Marshall hasn’t had a haircut for a year, but all of it is going be shaved of at 8pm on Friday January 15. And it is for a good cause: to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Alopecia UK.

Diane is the specialist health visitor for Perinatal Mental Health for the Health Visitor Teams in Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and is based in Henley. In January 2020 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully she is now cancer-free, back to work and clearly in great spirits, too.

“The Trust has been wonderful, so supportive. I really felt I was part of a family,” she notes.

But she hasn’t forgotten the moment of her diagnosis.

“It was a shock. You just don’t expect to hear you have cancer, and then of course I had to tell my family. But as time went on, I realised how lucky I was. My cancer was diagnosed early, and I only needed a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. But one of my very first thoughts at the time was: am I going to need chemotherapy? Am I going to lose my hair?”

Then a friend of hers was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Her diagnosis and prognosis were very similar to mine, but it turned out her cancer is very aggressive. She needed chemotherapy and within two weeks, all her hair had gone. She told me there are women who refuse chemotherapy because of the fear of losing their hair,” Diane tells.

“It is amazing that this is what we feel, but if you think about it, our hair is part of our identity. We do our hair and make up when we go out; it affects our self-esteem.”

Thinking of hair loss made her also think of a family member who has alopecia.

“I had a look at Alopecia UK website and saw that they are a very small organisation, doing their best to raise the profile of alopecia and the emotional effect it can have on people. So, I decided to raise money both for Cancer Research UK and Alopecia UK.”

Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown initially slowed down Diane’s efforts, but her friend’s cancer diagnosis ignited her will again, and the moment to boldly go, well, bald, is nearly here.

“I am feeling nervous, but it’s because I hide behind my hair,” Diane laughs.

“I will feel more exposed once it’s done. But I also know it is my choice to have it done, and I am lucky to have a choice to go out of my comfort zone,” Diane says.

She had booked a hairdressers’ appointment for the big event, but because of the lockdown, hairdressers are now of course closed. Hence it is Diane’s husband Richard who’ll be doing the job.

Richard has indeed proven a great support for Diane and her cause, not to mention the new look to come.

“I asked what he thought about my idea and told him not to answer straight away but to sleep on it. So, he slept on it and in the morning he asked: ‘so are you going to do it?’ I asked ‘how do you feel about it? Will you still love me; will you still fancy me?’ And he said: you know, it is only hair. And you are lucky: yours is going to grow back straight away.”

Now the home haircut is turning into a lockdown event at a distance: Diane has invited her family to join on Zoom.

“My aunt said this is a different type of entertainment for a Friday night, but well, we can’t go to a pub so at least this is something!”

Fundraising is going well, too.

 “I thought about how much I would it do for and decided, ok £500, that’s £250 for each charity. And as I am going to do this only ONCE in my life, I’ve promoted it everywhere!”

As result, she has already raised more than four times her target. If you’d like to donate to Diane’s campaign, please go to:

www.justgiving.com/team/DianeHeadShave