Firefighter’s prostate cancer campaign draws donors
Tori Tijerina has not yet developed a scissors phobia. But she’s just one buzz cut away from Bartlett firehouse fame.
The firefighter plans to shave off her shoulder-length hair at the end of this month in a prostate cancer fundraiser and awareness campaign.
She explained that her mostly male colleagues are generous with their time, putting on the pink turnouts and pink T-shirts each October as part of their union’s efforts to support breast cancer patients. Then she learned that a couple of those co-workers had prostate cancer.
“It’s not a thing I guess that a lot of men feel comfortable talking about,” Tijerina said.
She began researching the disease and decided to help the cause during September, which is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. She pitched her idea and volunteered to manage the campaign: Cut Tori’s hair; help prostate cancer patients.
She began letting her hair grow longer and longer.
“My hair has never been off my neck,” Tijerina said. “It’s been long. I’m 32 years old, and it’s been long my whole life.”
She found a sponsor in Memphis-based Wings Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps cancer patients and their families with support for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. All donated funds are used locally, and recipients are never charged for the help.
Her head-shaving fundraiser has both skeptics and supporters among her friends and family, she said. “A lot of them are just like, ‘Don’t do it!’ and a lot are like, ‘It’ll grow back.’”
Her colleagues have been supportive, hosting a cookout fundraiser last weekend, and friends are planning a party fundraiser during the Cooper-Young Festival.
She is also setting up a tent along with another charity to accept donations at Sunday’s polo match between Collierville and Rossville.
So far she’s raised a few hundred dollars, and the month is young.
“It would be awesome if it were somewhere around $5,000,” Tijerina said.
She is coordinating with a local TV news station for on-air coverage of the grand finale when she makes good on her promise.
And she’s getting ready for the razor.
“I’ve started developing a pretty good hat collection,” Tijerina said. “Maybe I should start picking out some dangly earrings.”
How to Donate
- Online and via mail: Go to wingscancerfoundation.org/tori for details.
- Phone: Call (901) 322-2984.
Donations for Tori Tijerina’s campaign are due before the end of September.
Prostate Cancer Facts
- Nearly 3 million American men are currently living with prostate cancer.
- One new case of prostate cancer occurs every 2.3 minutes; one death occurs every 18 minutes.
- A non-smoker is more likely to develop prostate cancer than he is to develop colon, bladder, lymphoma, melanoma and kidney cancers combined.
- A man is 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Most men over age 70 have some form of prostate cancer.
- African American men are more likely than Caucasian men to develop prostate cancer and are nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from it.
- A man whose father or brother had prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease. This risk is higher if the family member’s cancer was diagnosed at a younger age (less than 55 years of age) or if it affected three or more family members.
Source: Prostate Cancer Foundation, www.pcf.org.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to email@example.com.