Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Locks lost for brave gran

An 11-year-old girl has swapped her long locks for a funky pink and purple scalp and raised $2440 in the process.

After witnessing her grandmother Maxine Smith-Pilling's battle with cancer - which ended in May 2014 when she was just 52 - Tamara McLachlan decided to shave her head in a bid to help others struggling with the disease.

"I want to help children and adults who have cancer in any way that I can," she said.

The big clip took place at her Glen Eden home on Saturday, as part of the Shave for a Cure campaign, and money she raised will go to Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

"My aunty also shaved her head for Shave for a Cure," Tamara said.

"When my grandma had cancer she'd have chemo and her hair would keep falling out ... Mum told me earlier this year that I could apply for Shave for a Cure.

"I'm a little bit worried about how people, when I go back to school, are going to think of me. But I'm not too worried," Tamara said.

This is the first time she's had short hair, let alone a bald head, but it's not all boring.

As mother Sarah Smith-Pilling shaved off Tamara's locks, the girl's pink and purple scalp was revealed.

The coloured scalp was not deliberate, Ms Smith-Pilling said.

"Her school helped her fundraise by having a crazy-hair day and we sprayed her hair different colours," she explained.

"We didn't know it stained her scalp. But it looks pretty cool."

Ms Smith-Pilling said her daughter had decided to take part in the campaign "because she watched her grandmother's battle with cancer and wants to help others".

In a speech two years ago, before the death of her grandmother, Tamara gave her a "love rating of 1 gazillion out of 1 gazillion".

Tamara's 2014 speech

The person I admire is my grandma. She's my mum's mum. I used to live with her. She taught me lots, like how to play Monopoly. Whenever she went away she sent me postcards. Sometimes she even sent me postcards when she was proud of me.

My grandma and I used to go to Western Springs to feed the geese and ducks. We used to go out for lunch, she would buy me hot chocolates, or fluffies when I was younger. My grandma calls me princess. That's her special name just for me. My grandma still smiles.

She still smiled when her hair fell out. She is sometimes scared, like when she had a really, really, really bad dream.

But she is brave too. She doesn't cry. She's strong, even with all the tubes and bags and injections.

She wants to do things by herself, like go to the toilet and eat her food on her own, even when she is really sick and shaking. Sometimes she just needs a little help getting the food to her mouth.

My grandma still has lots of friends. She has always been extremely loving.

I give my grandma a love rating of 1 gazillion out of 1 gazillion.

My grandma wants to live.

She won't give up. She will keep fighting the horrible sickness.

And no matter what happens, I will always be her princess.

- NZ Herald

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