A shave and a haircut don’t normally attract a lot of attention, but at Cairns Private Hospital they like to do things differently.
Cancer patient Ron Sneddon recently chopped off his long hair and completely shaved his beard as part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s 'World’s Greatest Shave' campaign, raising more than $3,000 to help find a cure for blood cancer.
“I was quite happy to get rid of it all, it’s a damn sight cooler, that’s for sure,” Ron said, laughing.
“It’s way too hot here in Cairns anyway. Winter is paradise and summer is what I like to call ‘character building’.
“I’m not sure I’ll be growing it back either, I’m just enjoying the cool at the moment.”
Ron has been undergoing treatment for myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells – since 2016, and during that time he has kept up a positive mindset and been determined to help others.
“There’s no point moping,” he said. “I’ve decided I’m going to outlive everyone, anyway!”
Nurse Tahlia Runge is part of Ron’s oncology team. She said helping him through his treatment was a highlight of her job at Cairns Private Hospital.
“He was one of the first patients I looked after at the oncology ward when I started at the hospital a year and a half ago, and I was warned by the other girls about how cheeky he is,” she said.
“I was asking him the normal assessment questions and he just gave me the most ridiculous answers and cracking up laughing. Ron never complains, as he doesn’t want to worry anyone.”
Tahlia said the nursing staff suggested to Ron that he might want to shave off his beard.
“Ron has a port-a-cath for his treatment and he hadn’t shaved since COVID,” she said.
“I said to him, ‘It’s getting hard to keep this sterile. The Greatest Shave is coming up and you should do it’. Ron agreed straight away.”
Tahlia said after the shave he looked “10 years younger” and they were both thrilled to have helped raise so much money.
“Being able to support people like Ron, who are so positive, it means so much,” she said.
“It’s very rewarding. And it’s given me plenty of hope in my own life too.”
Ron said he was “very grateful” to all the staff, particularly his own oncology team, who coloured their hair to support the fundraising efforts.
“The girls there at the private hospital wind me up a bit, but they always help me, they’re more than family,” he said.
“We raised a lot more than I thought we would, so that’s great. I wish I could get $3,000 every time I get a haircut!
“And honestly, what’s the point in living if you can’t help other people?”
To donate to Ron's cause, visit his page at the Leukaemia Foundation's fundraising site.