In March this year, Charles Totani from Sarah Constructions raised more than $3,700 for Cancer Council SA by colouring his hair blonde. He shares why the fundraiser was so much more than just a change of hair colour.
Over the Easter weekend, I lost my cousin Jai to Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancerous tumour that most often occurs in and around the bones. Jai was incredibly special to me, we grew up together, played soccer together and spent a lot of our lives together.
Jai was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. He felt a pain in his groin, which at the time he thought was osteitis pubis or some kind of soccer injury. He went to get it checked out, and during scans the doctor found a lump, which they diagnosed as Ewing’s sarcoma. It spread pretty quickly, and I watched him go through countless surgeries and over 52 weeks of chemotherapy throughout the next seven years. Throughout, he never gave up and continued to be such an incredible presence in so many people’s lives. The treatment gave him the gift of time and he was able to get married and spend time with family and friends. He also fulfilled one important dream, to be the head coach of his pride and joy soccer team, the ‘Adelaide Pumas’, which also saw the team finish in first position last year. Two days before his 31st birthday, he passed away.
Losing Jai left such a big hole in my family and on the wider community. He was such a great guy and didn’t have a bad bone in his body, so to see him battle so bravely for seven years was really hard, but also really inspiring. Throughout his treatment, Jai continued to give back, supporting charities and advocate for others impacted by cancer. After he passed away, I wanted to continue to honour his legacy.
My older brother is a hairdresser, so together we came up with the idea of colouring my hair blonde and raising money for Cancer Council SA. I have dark brown hair, so to go platinum blonde was a definite change!
I emailed everyone at work to let them know what I was doing, and the support was just incredible. I don’t really like to discuss personal matters at work, but Sarah’s is such a great organisation with a strong culture, I knew that they would understand and support me every step of the way.
To raise such an incredible amount was so rewarding and was also such a wonderful way to honour Jai and his memory. Watching a loved one battle cancer can be hard and really emotional, so to turn something so hard into something so positive while also helping others was a really great feeling. It made me feel like I was a part of something bigger, and I know the money raised will help other people like Jai, which is the greatest reward of all.
If I wasn’t working at Sarah Constructions, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do something like this – the support from every single person I work with has been incredible and has inspired me to continue to making a difference.
If Jai taught me anything, it’s that you should seize every moment – after all, life is too short for boring hair!
Sarah Constructions are proud to be the builder for Cancer Council SA’s new home for South Australians impacted by cancer, with all the money raised through Charles’ fundraiser going towards the new building. To make a donation and support Charles visit www.doitforcancer.com.au/fundraiser/charlestotani.
For more information on the new building visit 202greenhill.com.au.