Weary of grieving, a young Fairfield mom who lost a son to brain stem cancer three years ago took a bold step Thursday in her journey toward healing — she shaved her head.
And embedded two important words on the newly buzzed canvas — CURE DIPG.
“As fun as all this is, it’s really about the kids. Remembering Dylan and honoring the kids,” emphasized Danah Jewett, 34, as she fingered her spiky new do compliments of Randy Hill at J’s Barber Shop off Sunset Avenue in Suisun City. Touched by her cause, Hill donated his services.
Jewett’s son, 5-year-old Dylan, died of the rare and inoperable Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in 2009 just two months after his diagnosis.
Not much is known about the condition, so the family donated Dylan’s brain tumor to Stanford University School of Medicine for further research. His cells were the first living specimen of DIPG in the world and resulted in significant discoveries, including the cell of origin. By understanding which cell causes the tumor, Jewett said, scientists can further understand the disease.
Dylan’s mom hopes to bring more awareness of the disease, as well as of the courageousness of all children who are living with cancer.
“My job, as Dylan’s mother, is to make sure his memory lives on, raise awareness about this deadly cancer and tell others about DIPG, and hope that funding will somehow become available,” she said. “Children are dying and there is a way to make it stop.” Still coming to terms with her own loss, Jewett sponsored the inaugural “Dylan’s Warriors Prayer Walk” in Vacaville’s Lagoon Valley Park last September. A sequel is planned for this September, complete with run/walk T-shirts and giveaways of gold and gray ribbons representing childhood cancer and brain cancer. Details will be revealed by June or July.
In recent months, Jewett’s heart has remained heavy. Her family, which includes husband John, who is stationed at Travis Air Force Base, and a son, 4-year-old Jayden, encouraged her to do more for herself. So she did, literally using her head as a tool.
Visiting her hairstylist at “Twisted” in Fairfield, Jewett had her long brown locks separated into 56 braids. Friends and family donated $10 or more per braid for cancer research and, beginning on the anniversary of Dylan’s death, she began cutting one braid each day. Meanwhile, she also communed with her faith, delved deep into herself and prayed for renewal.
“I wanted to seek an intimate relationship with God, just think of God and Dylan, what Dylan meant to me,” she explained. “I wanted a process for it, I wanted more than to shave it off and it’s over.”
By having “CURE DIPG” nearly carved into her head, Jewett said there’s no way that she won’t generate notice for the condition. Her braids had already caused a mild sensation — the new hairdo is likely to generate an explosion.
“This year is about Dylan, remembering him, honoring him, about DIPG and what it stole from us,” she said. “I want people to think about things, about kids with cancer. It’s just so amazing, what they go through.”
Even children have asked about DIPG, Jewett said, recalling a 9-year-old girl at church who was so inspired by Jewett’s hair that she gave her a $5 donation and pledged to do more to help.
Thus far, Jewett has raised about $400 for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for DIPG research and plans to donate her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.
For more information, go online to www.curedipg5.com or www.facebook.com/curedipg.
BY KIMBERLY K. FU/ KFU@THEREPORTER.COM