CUTTING FOR A CURE: 11-year-old cancer patient wields scissors to raise money for cancer research | Local News
THOMSON, Ill. Eleven-year-old Libby Thulen snipped Chrissy Govek’s hair Monday in front of a crowd at MacLean-Fogg Company north of Thomson.
Libby is the reason Govek agreed to have her head shaved, and Libby is the reason Govek’s St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraising event made more than $ 16,000 for childhood cancer research.
Libby was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2018, her mother Nicole Thulen said ahead of the event. Libby ended her cancer treatment in July 2020.
On January 4, the family learned that Libby had relapsed. She needs a bone marrow transplant, but she has to go into remission before that can happen, Nicole said.
Libby was treated for 2 1/2 years at the University of Iowa Stead Family Hospital for Children in Iowa City. This week she will begin CAR T cell therapy in Minneapolis. That takes about six weeks.
Libby first lost her hair in June 2018, Nicole said. She took it hard.
When Libby’s treatment ended, her hair grew back, long and curly, Nicole said.
In April, Libby was bald again, but not from cancer treatment. Libby shaved her head to show her support for 11-year-old Emilee Derrer, another student in the West Carroll Community School District who was diagnosed with the same type of cancer as Libby.
“It’s just her,” Libby said to her mother.
Govek, MacLean-Fogg’s HR manager, worked with Nicole at Ashford University for years, Nicole said. She grew up in Savanna, Illinois and attended school with Nicole’s husband’s sister, Matt.
Nicole and Govek have many mutual friends, Nicole said. Govek lost her mother to cancer about 4 1/2 years ago. “Cancer has affected her life,” said Nicole.
“In Ashford, we used to do St. Baldrick’s every year,” Nicole said. Government money for cancer research spends only 4% on childhood cancer; St. Baldrick’s Foundation only funds research into childhood cancer, Nicole said.
When Govek learned that Libby had cancer, she started an event for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to support her friend’s daughter.
The event also supported other children with signs during the event. Matthew Foltz, 5, is still under treatment, Govek said last week. His family currently lives in Milledgeville, but is from Thomson.
Derrer is 11 and in fifth grade. She goes to school remotely because of COVID and cancer treatment, Govek said. Harper Christian lives in Florida, but her mother is from Thomson.
Govek hoped to raise $ 5,000 in her first campaign, but she raised more than $ 10,000 a week ago. “This entire community, including Clinton, had businesses that [are] donate to support this. I raised more than $ 10,000 in 42 days, ”Govek said last week.
Govek can keep the event running on the St. Baldrick website until the end of the year, but she hopes most of the donations will come in this week, she said.
“It was just a way of bringing together the consciousness and nature of the community,” said Govek. “I never expected it to be this big.”
The shave took place Monday in Metform north of Thomson. Govek invited the entire community, believing this would be an uplifting event. “Especially since Libby’s going to shave my head,” she said. “I think it’s also a great way to show Libby … we’re behind you.”
Donations to St. Baldrick’s website for the Thomson event on Monday amounted to more than $ 14,000. With a match from Metform, Govek’s fundraiser reached $ 16,812.
Not only did Govek give up her dark locks on Monday, she will keep them for another six months for the extra $ 6,000 donated.
Govek fought back tears when she told the crowd for Metform that her mother died of cancer about 4 1/2 years ago. “It was really hard to look at it for 11 months,” said Govek. She can’t imagine a child going through that.
Dee Breuning, owner of Outback Dee-Zign Salon Spa in Savanna, tied off Govek’s hair and helped Libby trim the ponytails. They will be used to make wigs for cancer patients.
Chrissy Govek has Libby Thulen cut her hair with the help of stylist Dee Breuning. Govek had shaved her head to show solidarity with Thulen, who is fighting leukemia, and two other students from West Carroll School District who are cancer patients. Read the full story in Wednesday’s Clinton Herald.
Libby took the first swipes on Govek’s head with clippers before handing them over to Breuning to finish it.
Govek stroked her head, got used to the new feeling, and figured out a way to raise more money for cancer research. “If you want to touch my head it will cost you $ 5,” she told her audience.
Govek insisted she is not a hero. All she did was shave her head, she said. The heroes are the people who donated money.
Nicole said she is grateful for the support of the community. “Things like this are amazing,” she said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”
Go to stbaldricks.org and find Christina Govek to donate to Govek’s cancer research fundraiser.