St. Baldricks fundraiser

UCSC goes bald to back childhood cancer research

By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Aurora Learned, 4, shared her mom’s lap with her younger brother Friday afternoon, watching as barbers gave her grandfather and her mom a bald new look.

Afterward, the blonde tyke posed with her mom in the courtyard of UC Santa Cruz Engineering Building 2 as her dad looked on and dozens of people applauded and snapped photos. Her mom, Katrina Learned, 35, works at UCSC’s Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative. Despite the loss of her shoulder-length locks, she smiled. She had a lot of reasons to be grateful. Aurora, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 2 months, is cancer-free.

The Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative has a $2.5 million grant from St. Baldrick’s Foundation to use genomic data to see what drugs used to treat adults might be therapeutic for children. More than 30 people — six of them women — agreed to shave their heads Friday in solidarity to raise money for St. Baldrick’s so more cancer researchers will get the funding they need.

Published by Santa Cruz Sentinel