Halifax girl to go under the razor to support family living with cancer

‘It's very touching...to know she understands,’ says grandfather, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2017

Sophie Dupuis is not your ordinary 11-year-old girl. In the last eight years, she has donated almost 130 cm of her hair to help make wigs for people with cancer.

This spring, she’s going bald — both in solidarity with her grandfather, and to raise money for a family burdened with the costs associated with the disease.

“It just makes me feel good and knowing that I am helping others makes me feel like a hero,” said Sophie, who lives in Timberlea with her three siblings, her parents and three dogs.

On Feb. 5, Sophie set a goal to raise $1,000 by spring and shave her head then. That same day, her mother, Jenney, started a Facebook page called “Sophie’s Big Shave for Cancer” and linked to a page she created on GoFundMe.

She is asking people to nominate a family struggling with the costs associated with cancer treatment. On Valentine’s Day, Sophie will pick a family in need from the nominations.

Within 24 hours, Jenney received a dozen nominations.

The shave

While Sophie cut her hair for cancer five times before, she’s never gone shorter than a pixie cut.

She decided to go bald this time in solidarity with a family member living with cancer.

“It’s very touching,” said her grandfather, Jaye Penney. “To know she understands … It’s brave of her.”

Sophie’s hair donations through the last eight years. age, 3, 5, 6 and 7.   Jenney Dupuis

Penney, 54, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. After an invasive surgery that removed his prostate, he was cancer free. But the cancer returned almost two years later, and he is now undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

After his first diagnosis, Penney and his wife bought an RV. They scaled back their busy floral design business and decided to take off and explore the outdoors. Over the past two summers, they visited 22 national parks in North America.

They bought an RV with enough room for all four of their grandkids to travel with them.

This summer will mark their third year camping with the grandkids. Every summer since Penney’s diagnosis, they have spent time at Rissers Beach on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.

Sophie and her grandfather share the same favourite memory of a storm that hit one summer while camping at Rissers.

The rain was pouring into the campground, flooding out campers. The night was filled with the booms and cracks of thunder and lightning. Just after what felt like the biggest boom of thunder and brightest flash of lightning, Sophie looked up at her grandparents and said, “I just gotta swear once.”

With a nod of approval from them, she dropped the F-bomb and surprised them both.

“I thought she was going to say ‘Oh, damn!’” said Penney, with a laugh.

Sophie and her grandfather still laugh about the story today.

To honour Penney, he will be the one to shave Sophie’s head this spring at a community hall near her home. She decided to wait until spring to shave her head so she doesn’t have to be bald during the school year.

Even if she hasn’t reached her fundraising goal by then, she still plans to shave her head. The family will live stream the event to raise more money, and will keep the GoFundMe page open for a week before giving all the proceeds to a family in need.

Sophie will donate her locks to Ultra Hair Solutions and Esthetics, which makes wigs out of real hair for people living with cancer.

“I was not surprised that she was going to do this, but I was touched she was doing it in my honour and that it means something to her,” said Penney.

Kate Woods

Kate Woods is a journalism student living in Halifax, originally from Coldbrook, a small village in the valley. She loves books and hearing people tell their stories.

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