Blonde locks to go in support of friend

Alex Woods didn't mean to raise $14,645 in seven days when she announced she was shaving her head at an Australia Day fund-raiser.

Instead, she was just trying to support best friend Renae Van Woerden through chemotherapy.

Ms Van Woerden was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkins lymphoma in late November.

"I didn't have very many symptoms. I just felt tired and run down, they thought I had glandular fever at first," she said.

Ms Woods, 30, has been friends with TIGS English teacher Ms Van Woerden, 29, since high school and was shocked at the diagnosis.

"We did everything together," Ms Woods said.

"Obviously I can't go through chemo but I can shave my head with her. I thought she might feel self-conscious going out with no hair so now I can do it with her."

Ms Woods is set to farewell her long blonde hair at 5pm Australia Day in the North Wollongong Hotel's beer garden.

The highest donor on the day will have the honour of first shave.

Ms Woods wasn't too concerned with her potential new hairdresser's sobriety.

"I decided to have the fund-raiser at the pub because alcohol does a lot for generosity but I didn't think about the person cutting my hair,

"They can't do too much damage - it's getting shaved off anyway," she said.

Ms Van Woerden received the unwelcome present of chemotherapy on Christmas Eve.

"It was scary, having to sit there on Christmas Eve listening to them tell me all the side effects the drugs would have on my body.

"But I was lucky to have Christmas Day without getting sick and I've responded well to treatment so far," she said.

Ms Van Woerden said she was "blown away by community support".

"All of the businesses that have donated and community support is amazing, even my students who are 16 years old are giving whatever little bit they can," she said.

The fund-raiser for the Cancer Council currently has 191 donors with more than 50 messages of praise for Ms Woods and encouragement for Ms Van Woerden.

One comment read: "Ms Van Woerden was my English teacher last year and I loved going to her classes and being taught by her. I hope that my small donation makes a difference!"

Toby Dawson of the Cancer Council said the proceeds would be "reinvested into the local area".

"It will provide practical support for people through services such as transportation to treatment, carer respite and help with shopping," he said.

Donations can be made on the day or online at: http://nsw.cancercouncilfundraising.org.au/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=679924.

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