'Bald, Brave, Beautiful' offers encouragement to kids battling cancer

POSTED: Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 4:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 4:49pm

One of the most noticeable side effects of cancer treatment is losing your hair, but Miami Children's Hospital is doing something about it.

The hospital has created a "Bald Brave Beautiful" project that helps empower kids like 8-year-old Alberto Hernandez.

Hernandez is like any other 8-year-old boy who loves to read, watch cartoons and play video games.

What makes him unlike any other young boy is the bone cancer doctors found when he was just 4.

Hernandez beat it briefly before the cancer returned again this year, and so did the chemo and radiation treatments, the home confinement and losing his hair.

"At the beginning of the year I lost it all almost. All I had to do was this and it just flew off," Hernandez said as he rubbed his head. "I was a little sad, though, that I lost my hair, but I knew it would grow back."

"I asked him, straight up, 'Would you like for mom to be bald, and dad to be bald?'" said Hernandez's mom, Nelvis. "We're OK with that because it's not the way you look but who you are, that's not gonna change you. You're beautiful on the inside, hair's something that come and goes."

Given Alberto Hernandez is in the fight of his life, it seems losing his hair because of chemo is pretty trivial.

But the physical changes do affect childhood cancer patients, especially their self-esteem.

Which is why the folks at Miami Children's Hospital created the "Bald Brave Beautiful" project.

It does things like getting celebrities to shave their heads, something Hernandez experienced firsthand with the Miami Marlins.

"It's helping them through the transition. They will get better, the hair will grow back," said Lucy Morillo-Agnetti, with the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation. "But during that transition it's very important, especially for younger kids, especially for teenagers, that they feel that they're bold, that they're beautiful, that they're strong."

"I know it's OK to be bald because you know it's gonna come back," Hernandez said. "So you shouldn't feel sad, you should feel normal."

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