By 2nd Lt. Antonia Elena Pearse
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Different types of cancer affects many people and their families every year. It is a hard fight, and for two Pennsylvania families this nightmare has become daily life.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Glass, an operations section construction supervisor for the 365th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, recently found out that one of his relatives has cancer and that it has metastasized to his neck. In response, Glass declared that he would shave his head to support his family back home.
"I shaved my head because many cancer patients lose their hair from the chemotherapy treatments," explained Glass. "I told him that if he was found to have a positive cancer test, I would shave my head in support of him."
Since it is difficult to find a person who has not been affected by cancer in some way, Glass asked a few of his peers if they would shave their heads with him. What he never expected, was the number of Soldiers who turned out to in a show of support.
"I asked a few people to shave their heads with me and take a photograph to send back to him. Word spread throughout personnel in the battalion and the list continued to grow. It was all by word of mouth," Glass said as a response to the unexpected turn-out.
Task Force Rugged Soldiers in other locations, such as Forward Operating Base Gamberi, decided to shave their heads as well when they heard the story. They also plan to take a picture to send to Glass's family.
"[This] shows that people really care about a serious situation and that they have a heart for a good cause," Glass said. "It also shows the respect that they have for me, and the respect that they have for the cause."
While these Soldiers shaved their heads in support of one family, 1st Sgt. Richard Davis, with Forward Support Company, 365th Engineer Battalion, heard Pennsylvania native Delaney Brown's story and how she is struggling this Christmas with leukemia.
Davis sprang into action and assisted in making a short video to show support for Brown and her family, as well to wish her a Merry Christmas. Once edited, the video was posted on Facebook. The video on "Team Laney's" Facebook page has garnered a large positive response. The video has been viewed by more than 1,700 people, as of the writing of this story.
Spc. Garrett McGrath, a Radio/Communications Security Repairer, Forward Support Company, 365th Eng. Bn., also shaved his head in support of Glass's family.
"During the filming of the video shout out to Brown, Glass put it out that his relative had cancer as well," McGrath explained how he heard about the head shaving effort. "[I did it] as a sign of support for Delaney Brown, Staff Sergeant Glass's relative, and [for] anyone else battling cancer."
The symbolism behind shaving the heads is to show the patients and their families that they are not alone in their fight against this unseen enemy that affects so many.
Cpl. Derek Counterman, a fueler with Forward Support Company, 365th Engineer Battalion also shaved his head.
"One of my NCOs informed me about Staff Sergeant Glass's relative being diagnosed with cancer, and that the battalion wanted to send a picture of us to show support. It hit home because I have three family members with cancer. I shaved my head for them because it is the least I can do to show them they are not alone in their battles, just as they support all of us here in Afghanistan."